Notes of Readings on the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 1
Matthew 2:1-18
Matthew 2:19 — 3:17
Matthew 4:1-11
Matthew 4:12-25
Matthew 5:1-12
Matthew 5:13-26
Matthew 5:27-48
Matthew 6:1-15
Matthew 6:9-23
Matthew 6:24-34
Matthew 7:1-12
Matthew 7:13-29
Matthew 8:1-17
Matthew 8:18-34
Matthew 9:1-17
Matthew 9:18-38
Matthew 10
Matthew 11
Matthew 12
Matthew 13
Matthew 14
Matthew 15
Matthew 16
Matthew 17
Matthew 18
Matthew 19
Matthew 20
Matthew 21
Matthew 22
Matthew 23
Matthew 24
Matthew 24:15-35
Matthew 24:34-44
Matthew 24:44-51
Matthew 25:1-12
Matthew 25:14-30
Matthew 26:1-13
Matthew 26:14-29
Matthew 26:36-56
Matthew 26:56-75
Matthew 27:1-23

Matthew 1.

1917 209 Of the four Gospels only two give us a genealogy, We may have many genealogies in the Old Testament, but only One Person has a genealogy in the New Testament.

Matthew presents the Lord as King, and so the genealogy is traced to David, proving Jesus the Christ to be the rightful Heir to the throne further, going up to Abraham, as showing His right of title to the land.

The Old Testament is more quoted in Matthew than in the other three Gospels. It stands first, and is thus quite a connecting link with the Old Testament.

This chapter reminds us of the wondrous working of the vail. No doubt the four colours correspond to the four Gospels. No genealogy is needed for a servant, so in Mark He comes forth girded for work. In Luke He is traced up to Adam as Son of man; but John presents Him as Son of God.

In Luke the genealogy is traced through Mary; here, through Joseph, by Jewish law heir to the throne.

The Lord's divinity is markedly brought out in every Gospel. As another has said, If we have a Saviour, He must be God: if God is with us, it must be as a Saviour.

People may think a genealogy dry bones. This is a great mistake. It will always pay to go into it carefully it is God-given, Spirit-breathed. No man would have written it thus. There is a blessed design throughout. Things altogether are arranged dispensationally in Matthew — in Luke morally. In this genealogy it strikes us at once that we have the names of four women — three of them, at least, Gentiles, and the fourth the wife of a Gentile. Of none of them would a Jew be proud. They are all very humbling, and marvellous in showing God's grace.

These four are so arranged that we have in miniature the early chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, where we find the foundations of Christianity.

In Romans 1 you get a very, very dark picture of human depravity. Some people say the Bible is a filthy book, and none of us would like to read that chapter in public, but it is not filthy. A Christian once heard a man say so publicly, and challenged him thus, "If it is a filthy book, why do not filthy people love it?" Instead of which they hate and shun it. It shows their evil up. Why is that chapter given? God never gives a useless thing. He would let us know that He at least knows the deepest depths of human depravity, and provides for it a suited remedy. You have Romans 1 in Tamar. It is a black picture indeed which is given us in Genesis 38.

Then in the next one, we get the truth of an expression which only occurs once in Scripture — "faith in His blood" — Romans 3. That is what is brought out in Rahab. "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not." She is always called "the harlot." Her sin is not toned down. She was no mere lodging-house keeper. God would have us know that His grace goes out to the most unlikely and unworthy. What she wanted was "a true token": she got it in the scarlet thread. She calls it "a line" the spies, a "scarlet thread." Did they remember Jehovah's words, "The blood shall be to you for a token" on the night of the Passover? The "scarlet line of Redemption" runs through the whole Bible. In the early books, it is typical redemption; in the historical books, historical redemption; in the Psalms, redemption experimentally expressed; in the Prophets, it is prophetical redemption; in the Gospels, personal redemption; in the Epistles, doctrinal redemption; in the Revelation, the eternal results of redemption.

Rahab married a prince of Judah. Sin brought Tamar into the line; faith brought Rahab. "Faith comes by hearing." She heard and believed. There is all the difference between a human and a divine standard. It is very beautiful to see how God honours her faith.

The next one is Ruth, and there we see the distinction between law and grace. Law never brought salvation; it demanded righteousness but never got it. Its weakness was in the material it had to deal with. Grace, unmerited favour, suits man. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" — truth as to God, and as to man. Law excluded the Moabite; hers was a hopeless case. But we have a beautiful type of Christ in Boaz, the "mighty man of wealth," and "strength is in him" — the Lord in resurrection, with all things given into His hands. Ruth comes in after Judges, and she "finds grace in his eyes." Elimelech and his family went away from Bethlehem, the "house of plenty." True there was a famine, but that should never be an excuse for going away. A time of pressure took Abram to Egypt; he lost his strangership and ceased for the time to be a worshipper. If you have only a tent, it is formal. A tent marks separation from the world. The altar marks separation to God. Lot had no altar; Abram had both. "Grace reigns through righteousness." This is the teaching of Ruth. Grace brought in one whom law excluded, as it would every one of us.

The next, — her name is not mentioned here. But it is singular how David is here repeatedly called "David the king." He has great prominence in this chapter. We get justification by faith in "her who had been the wife of Urias." There had been terrible sin, and no one was ever chastised as David was. Forgiven he was, but the sword never departed from his house,

Sin in the believer is a thousand times worse than in the unbeliever; for it is sinning against love and light. It would have been a bad thing for any of us if that provision, "He restores my soul," had not been made! David was in a miserable condition; his moisture turned into the drought of summer; etc., a fearful experience. Then the prophet came with the parable of the ewe lamb. David was indignant, but "Thou art the man!" Yet David was a man after God's own heart, and there was a nimbleness of faith in him that always turned to God. He makes confession, "I have sinned," It was not like Saul or Judas, because God saw that his repentance was not to be repented of, and "God has put away thy sin." How should we do without Psalm 2? Oh, the blessedness of the man whose sin is forgiven! "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." Was it not against Uriah? Sin is always in relation to God. It is well to remember there is no such thing as little sin. There is "great sin," and "greater sin," but no little sin, because there is no little God to sin against.

The side of grace is what we have had, but besides this there is government, and every child of God is under it. It is prominent in Peter's writings; in the First Epistle we have the government of God's house; in the Second, of the world. In 1 Peter 1:14 we are called "children of obedience." We have been dealt with in grace, and what must characterise us now is holiness. So in vers. 16, 17 we are under the government of God. So, too, David was disciplined here in this world. There is no discipline afterwards — 1 Cor. 11. "Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." As regards one's soul's safety it is sin for a believer to fear; but there should be infinite respect. It was the triumph of grace that Solomon should be born of that marriage — the type of our Lord in millennial glory. David and Solomon both together are types of Christ, David putting down enemies; Solomon reigning. So you see how you get in miniature in the names of these four women the outstanding truths of the Epistle to the Romans.

There are some names omitted in this genealogy in connection with Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel. In each division there is a double seven — the perfect number; but to make these sevens, three names are left out. The government of God had great prominence in the Old Testament. That will account for those names being omitted; the house of Ahab was horrible to Him.

People who want to find discrepancies here will find plenty; those who want food will get it. God has permitted it that there have been faults of transcribers, and the Revisers had 30,000 various readings to choose from. People might think such a task almost hopeless, but God had been watching over it, and in the great bulk of it they could easily see how the mistakes had come in. A copyist might leave out a word, or skip a verse; or sometimes someone put a note in the margin; the next one who makes a copy from that roll, perhaps 100 years after, sees this note in the margin, and embodies it in the text. In this way we can easily see how a vast number of these readings occur.

But suppose instead of having all this vast number of MSS. to compare, they had only had one, and that one copied 100 times all previous copies being destroyed when a new one was made in the one surviving they would have had all the mistakes with nothing to check them! It is a rule with critics that if of two readings one is plain and one difficult, and they have no other guide, they should accept the difficult.

God does preserve His word for His people. Really in the dark ages the monks were used in God's providence to hand it down to us by transcribing it. "The words of the Lord are pure words … Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Ps. 12:6-7); given to us, preserved for us… .

Mary here is regarded as Joseph's wife. Mary's line is traced through Nathan; Joseph's, through Solomon. Mary is prominent in Luke; here Joseph. But it is remarkable how he disappears in the Gospels.

It is very beautiful to see how God, after being silent 400 years, breaks the silence to Zacharias, in the temple about the Forerunner, and the curtain is lifted, and we are permitted to see the remnant. There had been a remnant all through those 400 years. Simeon is in the secret of the Lord. Anna, a widow indeed, — really devoted; Zacharias and Elizabeth, both righteous; Joseph and Mary there was a precious simplicity in her, in marked contrast to Zacharias. What a mistake to make her immaculate! She was only the vessel, the Babe was holy, without sin, apart from it.

It is very lovely to see the gradual unfolding of the word. The first intimation from God Himself of the Seed of the woman is in the garden of Eden; then the Seed of Abraham, through Isaac, through Judah; then the Seed of David; then born of the virgin, the word given to Isaiah, Wonderful. The Jews did not realise who their Messiah should be — Emmanuel the Son of God. They looked for some great deliverer from their enemies. All speak of Him as God over all. It is "an angel" in verse 20. Often in the Old Testament "the angel" is the Lord Jesus "The angel of His presence saved them."

Dreams have a very important place in the Old Testament, not so much in the New. The time is coming "when your old men shall dream dreams, etc." It speaks well for Joseph, and what grace had done for him, that he bows to the instruction; there is a graciousness about him, though he is called a "just" man.

Jesus a Saviour. They did not think much of their sins and being saved from them. Yet Isaiah 53 speaks of them.

Israel will get the blessing of the new covenant and there will be a people who will love the Lord with all their heart, etc. They will have the stony heart taken away. We have no new heart. Our old nature is as bad as or worse than when we were converted, and has a wider scope to display itself in. God has saved us from the guilt of sin, we have no more conscience of sins, but He has perfected in perpetuity, without a break, those who are sanctified. So sin can never be charged against me as guilt, but if I sin "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the whole world." The ground on which God deals with the whole world is propitiation. "But these things have I written unto you that ye sin not." Never lower the standard. Beside that, though we are not delivered from the presence of sin, the evil nature in us, yet we are from its power, its rule, Romans 6. We shall never have done with its presence till we are at home with the Lord or changed into His likeness. If a believer sins he cannot go on and be happy with the Lord. Be careful not only what you say and do, but also of your spirit.

He died not for sin, but to sin. He died for our sins. Sin has been judged and Christ has died to it. "Therefore reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." There is all the difference between being the judge and the prisoner. Once I was the prisoner; now I am to judge myself. It is very blessed to know that we are married to another to bring forth fruit unto God. "Ye have your fruit unto holiness." We are not only saved from the consequences of our sins, but the power of them. In ourselves we have no strength to stand for a single moment.

In verse 22 His word is fulfilled. It was primarily written for the Jews. He came by the door and to Him the porter opened. Here first is pressed upon us that it is fulfilling several leading prophecies. Ahaz would not ask a sign; God was inviting him, yet he puts on a pretence of piety and refuses; then God Himself gives him a sign. Isaiah 7:14 speaks of the same glorious person as Isaiah 9:6.

It is very beautiful to see "God with us." He is not content to be apart from His creatures, He tabernacled among us — He shall be with them their God.

Verse 25 Her firstborn son. There are evidences in the New Testament that Mary had other children. These were the Lord's brethren according to the flesh. Terribly unbelieving during His life, the cross brought them out. James the Lord's brother had a distinguished place, but was content to speak of himself as a "servant."

Matthew. 2:1-18.

1917 225 We do not get an account of the infancy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew as we do in Luke. It is the presentation of the King in the first Gospel. There are the names of a large number of kings mentioned in chap. 1, but only one is called "David the king." In this chapter we have One "born king of the Jews." All the intermediate links are passed over. As in Psalm 72. "Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son" — to Him Who has universal sway.

We were speaking last week of the omission of three kings in chap. 1. This was God's government, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, the sons of Athaliah. It is worthy of notice that in that chapter we have "Emmanuel, God with us." This is essential, the foundation of everything. In Mark we read, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." In Luke, "that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In John, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth." Compared with Luke we have here no Simeons, no Annas. Coming to His own His own will not have Him.

In chap. 1 the Jewish side is very bright, the Gentile very black but in chap. 2 it is reversed. If He came unto His own possessions — His crown and kingdom — His own people received Him not; but God prepared Gentiles, who should own and welcome His advent. Out of that which was the Jew's chiefest possession — the oracles of God — are culled these evidences of who He was. There was no gainsaying their correctness no one disputed their accuracy. Jacob had prophesied "the Sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh come; and Balaam too had predicted a Star to arise out of Jacob, and now was fulfilment. He of Whom Jacob and Balaam had spoken was now come. The Magi came to do Him homage. Where can we get another "born king"? David alone is called king in the preceding chapter, as here our Lord Jesus. What a testimony to the people's condition — all Jerusalem troubled! No wonder Herod was! But he who was so cruel knew not what he would do. There was a general feeling that some one was coming, and there was such remarkable care in studying the letter of the word, that it could be said where the Messiah should be born; yet that study was lifeless. Unless we connect all with Jesus, we fail to get the profit from any portion of scripture. Herod was very crafty. He knew of whom to enquire. He does not expect to get the information where from the wise men, but the when He was born he does enquire of them.

Bethlehem is a very interesting place. Near there Rachel died; thither Ruth came. But its greatest interest was that it should be marked out not only as David's birthplace, but that of his greater Son. God is overruling all, He brings this about. Joseph and Mary are at Nazareth, but Christ must be born at Bethlehem, and the decree goes forth from Caesar Augustus that all the world, should be enrolled. All the machinery of that vast empire is set in motion to bring God's purpose about. This is very comforting to His own. Let us turn to the quotation in Micah 5. The Holy Spirit often quotes scripture differently. Why are the words "unto Me" omitted? Often a quotation is from the 70, but this is not. The Holy Spirit knows all that the word contains. In Psalm 40 we read, "mine ears hast thou digged." This is quoted in Heb. 10, "a body hast thou prepared me." That thought was contained in it. Here the thought is He was coming to those who would reject Him. It is very seldom that a quotation is given exactly, because, as another has said, "In the quotation you have New Testament drapery." This is God's own way.

How you see Satan acting here as the liar and murderer! Herod had no intention of doing homage to the King born. He thought he would be sure to succeed in getting rid of Him when he murdered the male children under two years old. Travelling was slow in those days. No one could be dogmatic, but there are those who think that these wise men may have been taken to Nazareth. At any rate it was not the inn, it was a house. But it may have been a different visit. The Star reappeared. We can see this star was no ordinary one, but something sufficiently low down to indicate the house. There are no difficulties in the word of God to faith. If we believe in the resurrection of Christ, it prepares us to believe all that God says.

All Jerusalem was troubled; some Gentiles were made exceedingly happy. It was something like what Peter says, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory." It must have been a very important matter to these men from the east to have caused them to take this very long journey. They naturally thought that Jerusalem, as the capital, would have been the birthplace of the King. And now to see the star again, it was a great cause for rejoicing. The expression "young child" shows He was not an infant as when Simeon took Him up. They make no fuss over Mary. The Lord Jesus is never called the child of God. In the early chapters of Acts it is Servant, not "child" — translated Son. The first time the Lord Jesus is called "Son" of God, in the Acts is by Paul in chap. 9. In connection with the Son the church comes in. Though Peter made that confession to Him as Son in connection with which the church is first named, there is nothing of the Son in his testimony.

They saw the young child, the One they had been looking for, and fell down and worshipped Him. (What a rebuke to those who give Mary the holy character of Him Who was born of her!) They don't even give her the gifts to give Him, they tender them to Him. God felt strongly about the idolatry of His ancient people, but Mariolatry is far worse. In the future, to Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba and daily shall He be praised. Prayer also shall be made for Him continually — a puzzle to many. Did He need their prayers? The force is that it will be a time of such blessing that there will be those who will pray for a continuation of it. Gold — a kingly gift. Frankincense was connected with worship. It was all the Lord's in the meal offering. It told of the intrinsic excellencies of that blessed One to God. Myrrh was used in the holy anointing oil, and for embalming. And so we have the recognition not only of His advent, but of His death, the basis of all blessing to man and His preciousness to God. God is graciously acting here to guard Him and to save them. God turns Herod's way upside down. The Magi don't want to see him again; they depart home another way.

How many have gone wrong over verse 13! People have reasoned and said that the Lord Jesus was taken to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod. But if you see Him identifying Himself with His people in everything, how different! There was the murderous hate, but it was not possible for Him to be touched until the hour had come. Look at Nazareth, where the Lord told them that in the days of Elijah no widow of Israel got blessing, etc. — it is wonderful the Lord revealing that the little captive girl had never known one leper cleansed, yet had faith for her master! they sought to throw Him over the hill, but He passed through them unscathed,

It is an angel in ver. 13. Joseph is the principal person in these chapters as Mary is in Luke. Through him the Lord Jesus was the legal heir to the throne. He was not Joseph's child, but Joseph could stand in the relation of parent. He does what he is told. In the light of the New Testament we can enjoy the prophecy of Hosea, "When Israel was a child then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt." But what a scene of rejection in this chapter! How humbling it will be to the Jew in the day that is coming! The Jew always gets his proper place through repentance on his part and judgment on his enemies.

The great point here is the fulfilment of many leading prophecies, vers. 6, 15, 18 in the last verse He shall be called a Nazarean. Nazareth was the despised place. It is in keeping with the prophets generally; there is no special quotation. It is a general term of reproach. The prophets show generally that He should be despised and rejected. God was arranging it all that He should go to Nazareth.

Why are Ramah and Rachel brought in? Ramah was in Benjamin, and Benjamin was the son of Rachel. Benjamin is a beautiful type of the Lord, exalted by His right hand and to His right hand. He is the right hand of the Lord that triumphed gloriously. The word was kept that was spoken in ver. 13. In ver. 20 the angel brings the word again. We must keep before us the thought of this wonderful King. He had almost 30 years of silence. It has been said that the first advent of the Lord Jesus is divided into two stages; so is the second advent. The first advent is referred to in Micah 5. But it says later in this book, "Behold thy king comes unto thee," quoting from Zechariah. What does that refer to? The first advent. But 30 years lie between the fulfilment of these two prophecies. Many prophecies speak of His birth and then of His presentation with an interval between. There is also an interval between His coming in the air for His own and His appearing in glory. He is born King, proved King by their own registers, but if He reigns over them, there must be a moral preparedness in them. So the Baptist is sent. There must be the trying experience of repentance, for this is the path to blessing. The Ten tribes have not had Him presented to them as their King; Judah has, and refused Him, and will go through the great tribulation; not so the Ten Tribes. Judah said "his blood be on us"; Judah shall yet have the spirit of grace and supplication poured on them.

Mattthew 2:19 — 3:17.

The great point where we begin is to bring before the Jews that the King thus presented to them fulfils many leading prophecies. Some judging humanly say that the Lord Jesus was taken to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod; whereas it was for the fulfilment of prophecy, as is stated in verse 15. Joseph comes up out of Egypt, and it was so arranged that the door was shut for him to dwell in Judea, so he goes to Nazareth. God's hand was in it, for it was a place of ill repute, and the testimony of the prophets was that He should be despised. There are many Old Testament prophecies which speak of Him as "despised and rejected of men." It is interesting to notice that the Holy Ghost is perfectly free in the way He quotes Scripture. The very words were given to these writers by the Holy Ghost. He indited them all. There may be, and indeed it is so, that what is given takes its form from the individual through whom it comes to us, just as water flowing through a square pipe comes forth square, and from a round one, round; but 1 Cor. tells us that even the words were given by the Holy Spirit. So in this chap. 2, He is bringing out the fulfilment of well-known Scriptures. He Who gave them is showing us the very One of Whom they spake.

In Matt. 3 we get the Forerunner. As we said last week it would be impossible for the Lord Jesus to reign over the world as it is. There must be a moral fitness in His subjects. God had said in the closing words of the Old Testament, that He would send Elijah; but here it is Isaiah 40 that is referred to, Repentance is required from man; in his fallen condition he is not a fit subject for the kingdom — repentance must be wrought. In Acts 2:38 Peter says, "Repent." God is waiting still for Israel's repentance. It will be wrought. There will be very real repentance. Repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ are for us now. Here we have the preparation for the coming King. It was a moral wilderness He came to, but the wilderness was better than the city with its temple, where they were all spiritually wrong. The Psalmist says, "Oh that I had wings like a dove" — to get from the city to the wilderness. Luke says, "Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low," with great moral beauty, because there the Gentiles are contemplated. We ought to think a good deal of John the Baptist. Moses had special honour as a ministering servant, but none born of women was greater than John nevertheless, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

It is not a question of comparing a saint now with an Old Testament believer, but what God is pleased to do in honour of His Son. It is not an exalting of ourselves, but we are called to bow to and accept what He has revealed, and there is abundant evidence to show that those saved from Pentecost to the Rapture have the most blessed place of any saints. I was talking once to a Wesleyan who thought that the world would be converted through the preaching of the gospel, so I put a little dispensational truth before him, and then spoke of the blessedness of the millennium. As I went on quoting Scriptures describing it, he exclaimed, "I should like to be living then!" / would not prefer it, i.e., to be there in my natural body, but glorified I shall not enjoy that day the less, for as members of the body of Christ we have now a higher place. "In that day (after Pentecost) ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I in you" — the truth of Ephesians and Colossians. This is a far greater blessing than we could have had before the Lord Jesus was glorified and the Holy Spirit given to indwell the believer. The Lord did not say, "I will send you a Paraclete," but "another Paraclete." Himself when here on earth a Paraclete, He does not cease to be one in heaven, Who comforts and takes charge of us and our affairs. A solicitor taking care of a minor and guarding his interests may serve as an illustration. In the Lord's prayer, so called, there is nothing asked in His name. Now we are to ask "in His Name." Going before God with our petitions in all the acceptance of Christ is asking in His Name.

"The kingdom of heaven" is a dispensational phrase. The kingdom of God in Mark, Luke, and John, would cover what we get in the kingdom of heaven, but the two are not synonymous. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," could not be applied to the kingdom of heaven. You get hints of the kingdom of heaven in the prophets, as in the expression "the heavens do rule," but the kingdom of heaven could not exist till Christ was gone to heaven. Israel was the centre of God's government on the earth. Christ is never called the King of the Church. Such an expression is quite contrary to the teaching of the Bible, He is our Lord. Continually in the Psalms Jehovah is called their King. We can think of Him as "the King eternal," "the King of kings," "the King of glory," etc. If we look at ourselves as the church, Christ is the Head of the church, but He is Lord of the individuals that compose it. Mary said, "Rabboni," i.e., Master, or Teacher. John came in the way of righteousness — severe. The Lord Jesus came eating and drinking. But that is not brought in here. John's testimony had effect (vers. 5 and 6). The baptism of John was the baptism of repentance, and they were baptised to a living Christ. Christian baptism is to His death. It is not a life-giving ordinance at all. Now, there is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and this is "into one body." It is strange how people put one thing against another and deny water-baptism because of the baptism of the Spirit. Jews were baptised by water before receiving the Holy Ghost. The Samaritans did not receive the Spirit, though baptised, till the apostles had come down to them. Gentiles received the Holy Ghost while Peter spoke, and baptism followed. Suppose a Jew heard the gospel and confessed the name of the Lord, but refused to be baptised, you have no title to acknowledge him as a Christian. For he is bidden to "Repent and be baptised" for the remission of sins, and then it is that he receives the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38) and so becomes a Christian. For us Gentiles, having the Spirit before baptism (Acts 11:44, 47) it is not presented as a command to be baptised, for obedience to an ordinance — but as a privilege rather an answer to His grace Who has saved us. And its place is at the beginning, not in the middle, much less is it at the end, of the Christian life. "Buried with Him by baptism into death, that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6). This walk in newness of life is then entered upon, and never to be given up.

The "command," therefore, is to the baptiser to baptise (to the evangelist, or teacher, etc.), not to the convert to be baptised; except in the case of the Jews, as we have seen. If Romans presents our burial with Christ by baptism, and walk of a new life, Col. 2 goes further and brings in our being risen with Him (ver. 12), with its necessary obligation to "seek the things above" (chap. 3).

The Pharisees were the Ritualists, and the Sadducees the Rationalists of that day. The Pharisees were particular about little things, taking mint and anise and cummin, but they were careless of the weighty matters of the law. But there is wrath, and always "wrath to come. "He who refuses to be subject to the Son, the wrath of God abides on him.

To show the reality of repentance there must be fruit. If I am a subject of God's saving grace, I must also be of His teaching grace. If there is faith, there are works. In Luke 3. the Lord draws Simon's attention to the woman's deeds, not so to the woman. To her he speaks of her faith; to him of the results of that faith. The Sadducees would say, "we have Abraham to our father." Yet, "ye go about to kill me." But there the Lord exposes, and so John here, the emptiness of resting on natural relationship. "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." These stones are what we were, stones without life, inanimate, but now we are children of Abraham, children of promise, accounted for a seed. If I want to find my inanimate condition I go to Eph. 2, but in Rom. 4 Abraham is the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised.

The axe is laid to the root of the tree for judgment; thank God it does not say by your fruits ye shall know yourself. But we are right to form our judgments of people by what we see of their ways — to know the power and not the speech. The whole argument here is that if there is not repentance there is judgment-fire. In ver. 2 we have baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, as also in Luke — with the Holy Ghost alone in Mark and John. As Messiah He will pour out His Spirit in the millennial day, but He will also judge. In Mark He is the servant; in Luke He is Son of man, and as such He judges. As Son of God in John He quickens. The thing is now to believe that He who is Son of man is Son of God. It is very sweet to see this one (John the Baptist) of whom it could be said none greater, born of women, now in presence of Messiah confessing himself not worthy to undo His shoes, or even carry them. This word "fan" is a winnowing fan discriminating, dealing with wheat and with chaff; and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire at the harvest in the coming day. Meanwhile, the Christian is called to judge whatever he finds in himself to have been grieving to the Holy Spirit of God by whom he is sealed. Thus repentance goes right through a Christian's life. We have not to eat carrion. Self-judgment is not comparing ourselves with others, but with Christ. We ought to have a good conscience in all things, but we are not thereby justified.

"Gather His wheat into the garner," not a grain will be lost. All is of grace and on the ground of redemption. This is what the Lord does. He will make no mistakes. The chaff is for judgment. Their worm dies not, man's conscience — and the fire is not quenched. Man had no conscience till he fell, then he knew good without the power to do it; he knew evil and was enslaved in it. When Jesus came to be baptised, John urgently forbad Him. No repentance could be for Him. He "knew no sin"; "in Him is no sin"; "He did no sin." He could say "I have set the Lord always before me, etc."

Very blessed truth is brought out here in connection with His baptism. It is the fulfilment of Psalm 16. The Lord is the truster there. He goes down into death trusting. To the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, He says, "In them is all my delight" (vers. 2, 3). In Prov. 8. we are taken back into eternity (there are very few places in the O.T. where we are Ps. 40 is one). "My delights were with the sons of men" (ver. 31). Who? Adam unfallen? He was no son of man. Who then are these? These who have found out how bad they are, in whom God had wrought repentance. The Lord had no trust but in Jehovah. How often we fail here!

When is there joy in heaven? Over a sinner made happy? Well, no doubt there is — but here it is on the first right step taken, repentance, for there can be no true blessedness to the soul without this. What infinite grace in the Lord to say "us" (ver. 15). They had done the right thing, and the Lord takes up the case of repentant sinners. They were fit subjects of His kingdom. There had been a time of silence for just thirty years. The Lord was walking in seclusion, but what was that life to the Father? — a continual meat offering! He looks back over those thirty years and He bears testimony to it. These very people had owned their sins, and some of them were very bad, and yet He will identify Himself with them; but what does God think? "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Heavens were only once opened in the Old Testament, and that in judgment; but here God's heart finds a resting-place. You don't get the Trinity definitely brought out in the Old Testament; with the light of the New you can see it in such passages as: "Let us make man;" or Isaiah 6; or Zechariah 3. The Lord Jesus is the Holy One, the Harmless One, the Undefiled One, etc. When the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost it was as a rushing, mighty, wind; but here it is, "as a dove" — emblem of purity — coming on One who needed not redemption as we, for He was holy. Now, we, having redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, can be, and are, sealed with the Spirit, and so are called to be harmless as doves: "Oh, that I had wings as a dove," separate from sinners.

Matthew 4:1-11.

1917 257 It was after the Lord Jesus had been baptised and anointed and publicly owned to be the Son of God, that this temptation came. And with us, after we have been born again and know redemption Satan tempts us, and we know his wiles. By nature we are his captives, but after we have been taken from his kingdom he attacks us. But we meet a defeated foe. The strong man was bound in this temptation. No king that had ever reigned had been a match for Satan. This One was about to show His superiority. In chap. 1. David alone is called the king; in chap. 2. One is born "King of the Jews." David was no match for Satan; he fell into his snare again and again. Satan stood up against Israel, and tempted him, and he numbered the people to his sorrow. He was not on the watch. Even Joab saw the wrong of it. He was a shrewd man though not a saint of God. In everything David put his hand to, he prospered till the end came.

What a contrast is in this chapter to the first man in Gen. 3. The wilderness speaks of the fall. How great the contrast between the garden of Eden and this wilderness where, according to Mark, the wild beasts were. We have not all the temptation. He was tempted in a way we know nothing of. There has no temptation taken us but such as is common to man. Forty days signify an adequate time of probation. The three seen on the Mount of Transfiguration had each one passed through forty days to be tested. The Lord here, Moses on the mountain, Elias in the desert. We also get a picture there of the kingdom both in its earthly and heavenly departments. All connected with the heavenly department have part in the first resurrection. The saint who does not die and so is not "raised," is amongst the all who shall be "changed," and that is equivalent to the first resurrection. In the temptation here we have instruction for ourselves. Satan would instil doubt. Never give way to any insinuation that throws doubt on God's word. Whenever a saint by grace in any way shines, he is an object of the devil's malice. Look at David how he shines when Saul is in the cave! Immediately after, he says in his heart, I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul. Here the Lord had been singled out as the object of the Father's pleasure. After that life of seclusion, those thirty years on earth in which God had found His delight in the Son, the devil chooses this time to try Him If God gives faith He will always test it. He upholds all that fall. As to my salvation, I have not a shadow of a doubt, but if the devil attacks me as to myself and my ways, "let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." If you have ground to think a person is a believer never insinuate a doubt as to his standing.

There was nothing in the Lord Jesus to respond to the temptation, for in Him was no sin. We can never be like Him in this. He was apart from sin, there was nothing in Him to answer to it. He alone could say, "I do always the things that please Him." To have Him before us as our example is right; to say we come up to this standard is wrong.

He was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, and He hungered. There is no sin in hunger; no sin in sitting weary at the well. The world as an evil system was made by the devil. The beautiful world around us was made by God. Satan wanted Him to take Himself Out of God's hands. Whilst Paul could heal Publius' father, we have no record of his healing any of his own companions. Saints should remember God can do everything, but we should have confidence in His wisdom as well as His power. There are preventive mercies. If you get a trial it may not be in chastisement, but because God sees trouble is ahead, and it is sent to keep you from it: as with the apostle, "Lest I should be exalted," etc.

With our first parents there was the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — the things that make up the world, and the three main weapons of Satan. The greatest lesson we can learn by this, is that the enemy can never touch us if we are obedient and dependent. That made the Lord victorious; He overcame by dependence and obedience. He quotes from Deut. 8: "Man shall not live by bread alone." Here was man, perfect man, the only perfect man.

Luke gives things in their moral order. Here in Matthew it is their actual order. In Luke the order corresponds with the temptation in Gen. 3, but here the Lord is tempted first as man, secondly as Messiah, and thirdly as Son of God. "Man shall not live." He was truly man. His answer ought to tell us we have inestimable treasure in the word of God, all of it; we ought to appreciate every part, and to profit from all. This is our safeguard. "Command these stones" — he knew he was speaking to the Creator who could do so; but would He be tempted from the place of obedience and dependence? He would not exercise His own will. The Lord "suffered, being tempted"; it was painful to Him. Sometimes temptation is not painful to us. If we are suffering from it we are not sinning.

"Then the devil takes him into the holy city, and sets him on the pinnacle of the temple." A pinnacle of the temple is a very dangerous place — ecclesiastical pride. Some may wonder why Jerusalem should be called the "holy city." Even at the time of the crucifixion it is called "the holy city (Matt. 4:5; Matt. 27:53) but the word "holy" has two different meanings. Sometimes it means holy in nature, as God is holy. But it also means "set apart," or devoted, as the temple, the city, the land holy because chosen by Him. In the second temptation the Lord will not be led astray.

The idea of testing God is utterly repugnant to a child of God; what was it to Him! This temptation tempted Him as Messiah. Psalm 92 is Messianic. He knew it was true, He did not need to test God; and we ought to trust the word and not put God to the test. "It is written" was sufficient to determine. He would not be forced from it. "It is written again" — we must never use one Scripture to neutralise another. It never contradicts itself. We may not always understand it and may have to wait for light upon it, as we read in Rom. 15:4 — "that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." For the present time, and always, we need the word to guide us — we are to be subject to the powers that be. But there are many other Scriptures that should guide my conduct also. To take one, I am to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus. The world cannot be governed on Christian principles. It is vain to tell the world what my prospects are; it is throwing pearls before swine. If people will spread their own precious promises before the world, let them not wonder if the world turns again and rends them.

It is one thing for God to try us; quite another for us to try Him. Wicked Ahaz was invited by God to ask of Him a sign; but said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord." The Christian has not to ask Him to "be gracious unto us"; for, redemption being accomplished, God has now met us according to the riches of His grace. The Lord very well knew who it was that was tempting Him, but He does not disclose it until the devil thoroughly manifests himself by saying, "If thou wilt fall down and worship me"; then He calls him, Satan. "Devil" is the accuser, "Satan" the adversary. The Lord in no way refuses the testing.

He allows Satan to take Him up into the exceeding high mountain. As Son of man everything will be put under Jesus' feet. In Luke, Satan shows Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Another has said, "It did not take Satan long to show all that he possessed!" What will he not say to us, if he dared to say this to the Lord? He will be permitted to confer the throne and great authority on the beast (Rev. 13:2). How this shows us that the devil for the first time meets a Man stronger than himself. So this King can bind the strong man and spoil his goods. He is superior here, and then casts out demons. The Lord quotes from Deut. 6:13.

Had the third temptation been before the second you would have the anomaly of Satan staying when the Lord told him to go; but in Luke it is the moral order that is given; and so the words "Get thee behind me, Satan" have no place there, for Satan himself was never bidden to "get behind" the Lord, but to "Go hence." Satan acknowledges his defeat; he leaves Him for a season. He had used his utmost form of subtlety, and been overcome. He comes back and tries the Lord by terrors at the end. "The prince of this world comes and has nothing in me." Satan is no more successful at the end than at the beginning.

"Angels came and ministered unto Him"; but one only in the garden to strengthen Him. "He was seen of angels" — He will be seen of them in a day to come, "angels, authorities, and powers being made subject unto Him." Now they all minister to the heirs of salvation, not One exempt. Though we have salvation now, we are also heirs of the salvation which is nearer than when we believed. Here is a fallen angel suggesting to the Lord that He should pay him homage! But God says of Him in Psalm 91, and the devil knew it, "Let all the angels of God worship Him." When? It does not say, when "he brought," or when "He will bring," but "When he bringeth." If as a Babe in the manger He is brought into the world, He is the object of the angels' worship in those Psalms that begin with Ps. 94. He is being brought in as Messiah, and again the angels worship Him.

The Lord Jesus does not begin His ministry in this Gospel till John was cast into prison. It is presented to us here dispensationally. Zebulun and Naphtali, though a people that jeoparded their lives in the days of Barak, bordered on the Gentiles and had been affected by them; it was a place of darkness, and there the light sprang up. He was among the poor of the flock.

Matthew 4:12-25

1917 273 It is well for us to remember that we have a divine selection of events in the Gospels a small selection according to John, but all of divine arrangement. In Matthew the several incidents are arranged dispensationally, or, at any rate, to bring out dispensational truth. Where we begin today was not the first time these disciples had come in contact with the Lord Jesus. We get the Baptist's ministry in John 3, and we find these disciples in John 1. The first four chapters of John had taken place before the events here. It was a wonderful testimony of John when he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." He could give it because of what he was, but we are nobody to start with, so we cannot decrease. He only took the place of a voice. This was very beautiful for him. Nevertheless, there is always occasion for us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. John and Moses were both special servants.

It is beautiful to see how we have (I was going to say) a humanizing testimony to the Lord Jesus, "when Jesus had heard!" As a divine person He knew everything. We know how advantage has been taken of a verse in Mark 13 to belittle the Lord Jesus. While He was perfect man He was also God, and there was that which is essentially unique in Him; He was the God-man. All He did had a quality that you and I have not. He could weep; there were never tears like His; ours may be often superficial and selfish, never so were His. He took a divine view. How He felt the betrayal of Judas, "Mine own familiar friend!"

The various events recorded here, no matter how brought about the going down to Egypt or here to Capernaum, were all to fulfil the word of God. Israel's greatest privilege was to be custodians of the word of God.

He identified Himself with the poor of the flock, those in the greatest danger, bordering on the Gentile world. In that place of darkness light sprang up. Yes, they were farthest from that which was intended to be the centre of light. In the millennium it will be recorded, "this man was born there," not in darkness. The light always becomes darkness if we refuse "the light of life." Whatever belittles the Lord must bring in darkness. "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness."

In ver. 17 the Lord Himself announces the kingdom. John had called the people to repentance; now the Lord takes up the same word, and announces the kingdom at hand, and in the same words as John, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." There could not be moral fitness for the kingdom without repentance. The repenting ones form the remnant, and the Lord identified Himself with them. Acts 3. shows that on the nation's repentance the kingdom would have been set up. His blessing is "in turning each one away from your iniquities." John preached the baptism of repentance for remission of sins, and called for fruit worthy of repentance that so it might be seen to be real.

How very different this King is to Saul! Saul means "asked," and he was "asked" of the people; Samuel means "asked of God." Saul would "take" (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18); this King will "give." Yet He will receive. "Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance." He will receive from the Father.

Satan had for the first time met one stronger than he; he was spoiled, not yet annulled. With the Lord's word there was power. If He said, "Follow me," there was power with it, and those who left all to be identified with Him formed the remnant. If we don't see that, many things the Lord said will be quite puzzling. Four hundred and ninety years were determined on the people, but the church has gone on for nineteen hundred years, so there arises a gap somewhere in that prophecy. We frequently find gaps in the Old Testament. This one comes in between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week, in which time is not counted. So the Lord speaks to His disciples as if they might then be living just before the millennium. He identifies Himself with them in marvellous grace, and now gathers them to Himself.

We get here the first quarternion of the disciples. Wherever the twelve are mentioned, they are always in three fours. Philip is always the first of the second four, and James the less the first of the third four. Andrew was one of the two that heard John speak, and followed Jesus, and then found his own brother Simon. This is a real call to service. They did not give up their business and turn to the Lord's service because it was a decaying trade. They had never had such success as fishermen before. This made it the greater test. Why leave this to turn to a less profitable employment? The great thing is to have the Lord's mind. It was unmistakable here. The Lord may call us to leave prosperity for spiritual service; but when they say, "we have left all," we wonder what the "all" was. We do not get a hundred per cent., but a hundredfold. We can plead for others as we cannot, for ourselves; there is nothing for us but the ground of grace. They made a mistake who bargained for a penny a day. God is righteous always, yet He is sovereign and can be gracious.

Exodus is divided into three parts, pure grace, pure law, and law and grace mixed. How happy the people were under pure grace! yet poor human hearts put themselves under law! We are in a place of liberty to do the will of God in contrast to Jewish bondage.

The kingdom of God includes the kingdom of heaven; there is a sense in which God's kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, but the kingdom of heaven could not be till the Lord was in heaven. First it is in mystery, then in open manifestation. The Lord could say "the kingdom of God is among you," because Himself the King was there. The kingdom of heaven is always spoken of as "at hand," or "drawn nigh"; its use is guarded. In chapter 13, where we have the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, it is not said that the parable of the sower was a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, because the Lord was there the sower of the seed. Nicodemus was told of the kingdom of God. The very scriptures which in Matthew speak of the kingdom of heaven, in Mark and Luke call it the kingdom of God. But many other scriptures which speak of the latter could not speak of the former. Where the kingdom of God is looked at morally it excludes evil. Luke 13. so far corresponds with Matt. 13. I should take leaven as defilement put in the household's food. Leaven leavens the whole lump, gives character to the whole lump, brings it under its influence; and if you don't put it out, you are a prey to its power.

"I will make you fishers of men" had not been abrogated, so the disciples had not the Lord's mind when in John 21 they went a fishing. Here is shown the effect of influence. In John 20 John comes first to the sepulchre; impetuous Peter comes up and goes in, John follows he is influenced. Now in this chapter (21) Peter comes forward and they all follow. There is a force in good example as in evil. "Your zeal has provoked many," the apostle could say of the Corinthians.

Psalm 103 brings before us the effect of the Lord's presence on the earth, "Who heals all thy diseases" as well as "forgives all thine iniquities." This is not so now, as it will be in the coming day, when healing and forgiveness will go together. True He does heal now at times, but still He allows sickness to affect His people. Then the healing will not only be wholly, but connected also with forgiveness. Some people think the grand thing is to have faith in God's power. He has only to speak, and the worst disease can be healed easily; but He is training us. Sometimes sickness is sent as a preventive, sometimes as a corrective; we ought to have faith in His love as well as in His power, and in His wisdom too. Have faith in God, not simply in His power. Here Job shines. Perhaps we have not thought adequately of his sufferings — "though he slay me yet will I trust in him."

The grand truth in our chapter is that before we get the principles of His kingdom as enunciated in chapters 5–7. His fame has gone over all the land; and it is a precious testimony to His mercy, the plenitude of grace in Him, that He healed them all. These were samples of what will be done in the millennium. What He did here, He can and will do for the whole world. Syria may be used typically here.
"He'll give these bodies vile
A fashion like His own;
He'll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan."

"Straightway" does not characterise Matthew as it does Mark, but you get it sometimes here. His acts of power are not the most important thing. They were His credentials. Nicodemus acknowledged this, but faith in Him as a miracle-worker did not give life to the soul. "Many believed in Him when they saw the miracles which He did," but Jesus did not believe in them. His preaching was the most important thing His words gave life.

The Lord never does anything without a purpose, never a useless thing, and even judgment is beneficent to others. All is in keeping with His nature. Light and Love are the only two words that express His nature. All other attributes are relative — towards others — and flow out of what He is. "The powers of the age to come," in Heb. 6, are sometimes misunderstood, as applying to true saints of God falling away; but the Spirit of God reckons up in that chapter all the privileges that might be enjoyed, which yet fall short of life. Saul was changed into another man, but never had divine life. "Partakers of the Holy Ghost," is sharers, i.e., who come into that corporation (so to speak) where the Holy Ghost works. "Partakers" of the Holy Ghost is not the same as being "sealed" with the Spirit. It won't do to put service instead of Christ. I may be thoroughly deceived about another as to the  possession by him of divine life, but "the Lord knows them that are His," spite of the confusion of "a great house." Philip was deceived by Simon Magus; and some will say to the Lord in that day, "In thy Name we have cast out demons, and in thy Name done many wonderful works"; yet the Lord will say, "I never knew you." He will never say that to one who pleads, "I am only a poor guilty sinner but trusting in thy blood." That foundation cannot break down.

Many people think the uncondemned woman in John 8 was forgiven, but there is nothing to show that. It was the action of light, which makes bare, for all things when reproved are made manifest by the light. They thought they had the Lord on the horns of a dilemma, but they were in the presence of Him who gave the law, and it showed the Lord's present attitude. He came in grace — not to condemn.

James and John were pretty well off comparatively. Other partners were with them, and servants with their father. They left their father as well as the ship. Each service has its place; some were "mending" the nets, others "casting" the nets. Some seem to think casting is everything, and that no mending is required. If you don't look after your nets you won't catch fish. Unless you read, and grow in the truth, you are exposed to danger. We don't want to be but a conduit pipe, but to get a good share for one's self. The twelve were privileged ones, the Court so to speak, the princes which should decree justice, who will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and He is able to delegate power to them. But it is a solemn truth as to ministry that the only recorded time the Lord spent the night in prayer was before He chose the twelve. In any kind of service, however small, there must be the being with Him before we are sent forth. We need to be "sent" and by Him.

I suppose all the diseases existing among Israel were direct evidence of their unfaithfulness (see Exodus 15:26). Their condition was evidence of their national unfaithfulness. They ought not to have needed the pool of Siloam. It is very sweet to read of His fame going forth! Psalm 72:11-13 shows this worldwide fame, and then the beautiful picture of the reign of great David's greater Son.

Matthew 5:1-12.

1917 289 There is something significant in the Lord going up to the mountain, and His disciples coming to Him. "The Sermon on the Mount" as it is called is for disciples. The previous chapter shows how His publicity extended, but here and in the next two chapters we have the principles of Messiah's kingdom. He came down from the mountain. It was not to the valley, but He came down to a level place on the mountain side (cf. Luke 6:17). It is the mountain, in contrast to the valley, not any particular place. The same with the "boat." He "went on board," not necessarily any special boat. Language is used metaphorically. You cannot strain it into a cast iron vice; we have to judge by the context, though we ought to be jealous as to the words of holy writ.

Is there any contrast here with Sinai? We have beatitudes, instead of curses. These are divided into twos and three, and the bed-rock is the first "Blessed are the poor in spirit." There was nothing in the Lord to attract the human eye. His disciples must partake of the character of the King. The "poor in spirit" is one who can say, 'I am nothing, I have nothing, I deserve nothing.' These traits are the very opposite of what we find in men. The natural man cannot be content to feel he is nothing and that others should think so too.

There are nine beatitudes here, seven positive and two relative. "Blessed are the poor in spirit"; of such was the apostle who could speak of himself as "less than the least of all saints." We must distinguish between the kingdom of heaven, and heaven itself. In these principles you get that which will have a very blessed place when the kingdom is set up; but it also contemplates what is during the Lord's absence. We do not get redemption here nor conversion these chapters apply to those already in relationship. The law is filled up here. He is here of Whom the prophet Moses spoke, and that work of the prophets precedes the work of atonement as in Isaiah 53. "He shall instruct the many in righteousness and He shall bear their iniquities." The A.V. "by his knowledge shall my righteous servant 'justify' many" is incorrect; it should be "instruct the many in righteousness": here He is doing it. People try to get out of the difficulty by making the "knowledge" apply to the man, but He is the perfect Instructor and then the perfect Redeemer. To be poor in spirit is to have low thoughts of self, to realize that before God I am nothing, I have nothing, I deserve nothing. It would be quite consistent with standing up for what is due to God.

The Lord Jesus took the scourge of small cords and drove them all out of the temple, for "the wisdom that is from above is first pure then peaceable." First pure. There is no such thing as peace at any price, in the word of God. Holiness and peace — what God has joined together let not man put asunder.

In the next verse we get a reference to Ezekiel where a mark is put on those that sigh and cry. If not another soul knows it the Lord sees it, but we must not forget that we are also called to quit ourselves like men. The Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem, that is the thing. There are only two instances of His weeping — one, at the grave of Lazarus, and the other, over Jerusalem. We cannot limit his tears to sympathy: at the grave of Lazarus the past and the present were before Him: over Jerusalem the present and the future. The Lord never put forth His power on behalf of man without His sympathy also. If we could do people good we should be disposed to advertise ourselves. But His miracles were never mere acts of power: "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." This is not atonement; Matt. 8. applies it to His life. He was not bearing sins in His life; He was the spotless Lamb not yet offered. The Lord sighed deeply at Bethsaida. We can hinder by our unbelief as they did there. Isn't it a relief to unburden the heart to one we can confide in? There is a little difficulty in the hymn
"It tells of sympathy above,
Whatever makes us mourn."

It means what makes us mourn rightly according to God's word. We ought to be so thoroughly identified with the interests of Christ that nothing affects us but what affects Him. It is sad of a Christian to say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" We should not advertise our brother's faults. The apostle says, Fix your eyes on those who walk even as ye have us for an example; but he wept over those who minded earthly things, etc. Instead of Christ's interests being theirs, many walk after their own selfish gratification: enemies of the cross of Christ. It may perhaps sound a little strange, but I suppose there must be in us a lack of sympathy toward Christ, if we are not affected by His interests. There is no lack on His part of sympathy toward us. It is a wonderful thing when we consider that the Lord in brightest glory above is seeking sympathy with our hearts. He longs (if we may thus speak) for human intercourse; He sought it when below, and He is the same glorified. He had a special delight in gathering His own round Himself. How did Judas know where to find Him in Gethsemane? Because Jesus oftimes resorted thither with His disciples. Is it not a delight to Him to see us around His word or gathered to His Name? And will He not have us round Himself in glory? If I think of His love toward me it will produce communion: if I think of my love, it is very poor. It is far better to be speaking to the Lord and exposing our ignorance, than to be keeping silence. It is a blessed thing to have earnest desire towards Him, but it is better to be occupied with His desires towards me.

"Blessed are the meek." "They shall increase their joy in the Lord." The meek in the Old Testament had a very prominent place. The meek will He guide in judgment and the meek will. He teach His way. Speaking of the Messiah in Isa. 11 we are told He will reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And again Psalm 37 the meek shall inherit the earth — of which this is a quotation. There is the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Meekness of spirit produces gentleness of action and words. Gentleness would be represented by dealing tenderly, not using improper force: whereas the meek will not use force at all. There is no one so unresisting as was the blessed Saviour Himself. His "gentleness has made" us "great" (Ps. 18). A verse in the same Psalm says, "With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, and with the perverse thou wilt show thyself a wrestler." He has no pleasure in the legs of a man, but He has pleasure in those that hope in His mercy. The meek shall inherit the earth. The possessors of the earth now are generally great conquerors, but here is the very opposite; those whom men tread under foot, these are the ones that God says shall inherit the earth, and in a good time. The great and blessed pattern is the One who when He was reviled, reviled not again, etc. You cannot ignore the unrighteousness that is going on but you can commit yourself to Him that judges righteously. These features are not found in the natural man at any time. If we turn to Acts 10 we find Peter saying that of every nation (not only the Jews) he that fears God and works righteousness is acceptable with Him. This shows there was a work of grace in those that had that character. "An honest and good heart" is prepared ground where there has been a work of grace, and the person brought to see he has a very bad heart. It has been said that the first beatitude here is general and the rest alternately toward God and toward man.

"Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness" (ver. 6). This is deeper than what we had before. Here it is what is due to God that the soul is exercised about. It is not the thought of a soul wanting a righteous standing before God, but the display of righteousness upon earth. Righteousness will reign in the coming day, and the soul is exercised about that which is due to God — that which corresponds with the revealed mind of God in the Old Testament. If you want really to please the Lord you will be filled; these things can only be true of the children of God. The words, "except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" in a later verse do not mean the righteousness of God in contrast to our own righteousness, but that theirs had come to be mostly ceremonial instead of practical.

"Blessed are the merciful" (ver. 7). That is what God is. He delights in mercy, so Micah tells us. Paul, that He is rich in mercy. It is only those who realise that
"Nothing but mercy will do for me,"
who will be merciful. You get a picture of the wonderful mercy that has been shown to Israel in the parable of the man that owed a tremendous debt. He was unconscious of the mercy that had been shown to him. Whatever a person does to us, they can never owe us what we owe to God. If we are conscious of that, it will make us tender towards others. But here we do not get what we find in the epistles; we are on higher ground there. Yet, as a rule, there are comparatively few in whom we see these characteristics, and they are obscure.

There are two thoughts in sonship, position and character; here it is character. John tells us we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren; we don't get that here. This is the pure law of the kingdom, so it is, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven," but we are called to forgive because we are forgiven. "Obtain mercy." Paul obtained it when he was anything but showing mercy, when like a wild beast; but I obtained mercy "because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" — the city of refuge.

"Blessed are the pure in heart," etc. (ver. 8) If we love it there is that word in the Proverbs, "He that loves pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend." It will show itself in conversation. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable. When the kingdom comes a new heart will be given. The Lord referred Nicodemus to Ezekiel 36, 37, born of water in the one, born of the Spirit in the other. He will take away the stony heart that said, "Away with Him"; but the new heart will say, "With His stripes we are healed." The blessing of the new covenant is not only, "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more," but "I will put my laws in their heart," and there will then be a people who shall love the Lord with all their heart. The believer now has a new nature. A new heart is a heart without any reserve. An evil conscience would keep you away. A true heart rests on the knowledge that all is done; so I am able to draw near, not in presumption, but having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience. Having had that, it corresponds to a true heart, therefore we come. There is a reference here to the consecration of the priests. I suppose "the merciful" in ver. 7 have the sense of mercy shown to them, and that makes them merciful to others. We have seen already how obnoxious to God was the one who had no mercy to others after all the mercy shown to him. Motives are dealt with here and that which is inward.

"Children" of God (ver. 9) should be "sons." When it is a question of children it is by birth — not natural birth. Man has lost the title to be called a child of God, but John 1:12 shows us how he can be born again. There the word should be "children"; "son" is different. "Child" sometimes means a minor, but mostly it is character — in these chapters always character. For instance, ver. 48, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," that is, we are to partake of that character. God said to Abraham, "Walk before me and be thou perfect," meaning sincere. Perfect has different meanings in scripture. We have to read the context and weigh it. When the Lord Jesus was "made perfect through sufferings" it was not a question of moral perfection, nor could be, for He was always perfect. "Perfected the third day," is in resurrection.

In ver. 10, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake," it is a carrying out of the will of God and being persecuted for doing it. We get a higher standard than this for the Christian. Peter says, "If ye do good and suffer for it, and take it patiently, "etc. Nothing but the grace of God can enable us to do that. And I believe that can be shown in little things, in our everyday home life. A meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price. Why is it "they" in ver. 10, and "ye" in ver. 11? The one is doing the will of God, His revealed will; and the other is suffering for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and that is a gift of God. Every true saint of God suffers with Christ — not to the same extent, but the Lord Jesus necessarily suffered in a sense like this, and so in measure the one who is born from above and has the new nature. And in a thousand ways we suffer with Christ, but it is not everyone who suffers for Him; that is a gift: "to you it is given on the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him but to suffer for His sake." In ver. 10 it is suffering for carrying out the revealed will of God, that is the righteousness here; and then suffering for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we are enjoined to go forth to Him without the camp bearing His reproach. We shall not have this privilege long — of suffering as identified with Him; of suffering as a Christian. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you," etc., when He was reviled, He reviled not again. That was the Lord's path, and He left us an example that we should follow His steps.

"Falsely," ah! that's the point. Turn to 1 Peter 4:12-16. It is a shame for any of us to suffer as an evil doer.

Matthew 5:13-26

Israel had been the salt of the earth; and here it is not the Christian, that is, not a believer of this dispensation, that is contemplated; it is the Jewish remnant. As far as the church is concerned, when the true saints are gone, the salt will be gone; but it is the remnant He is speaking to here.

I take the salt in Luke 14:34-35 to be connected with discipleship. In that chapter we find the gospel feast — everything ready; nothing to do, nothing to pay, nothing to promise; only to accept. I get blessing not by anything I give up or do, but as a recipient. God can bless the guiltiest sinner in the fullest love of His heart righteously, because of the cross of Christ. All boasting is excluded, no flesh can glory in His presence. If I am to be blessed it must be in God's way. I must be a recipient, and then I become a disciple, if the Lord leaves me here. But my discipleship does not improve my title in the least degree. It is a very blessed thing and will have its reward by and by, but it is also a very solemn thing.

Luke 14:26-33. Nothing must be put in competition with Christ. Does this mean a Christian is to be a worse father, mother, brother or sister? Not at all. Grace makes them carry out their various responsibilities on a higher level. There is not a single saint of God but has got his cross, which he has to take up — not the Lord's cross. Let us not then shrink from it, as naturally we should, for it is in the path of a disciple. If I begin well as a disciple, and then give up like the Galatians — "ye did run well; who did hinder you?" — there is no testimony for God and the salt is useless.

While the Lord was here He was the Light of the world, as He Himself says (John 9:5). Now we are called upon, as christians, to shine as heavenly luminaries, as "lights holding forth the word of life." Our light is reflected light. Eph. 5 tells us whence our light comes, "Ye were sometime darkness, now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light." But we have also, "Awake, thou that sleepest and arise from among the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." If Christ does not shine upon us we can give no light. The sleeper here is a child of God in a bad state. I was hearing today of a dear saint to whom some one said, Do you know what it is to be filled with the Holy Ghost? I told them Moses went in before God, and he was there long enough to make his face shine. But the Holy Spirit is careful to tell us that while everybody else knew it, Moses himself was unconscious of it. When Moses thought, so to speak, that his face shone his brethren did not see it. "Who made thee to be a ruler?" Moses was then forty years too soon; now, he is unconscious of it. It is well that we should ever remember this. It is not humility to be always talking about our badness. True humility is forgetfulness of self. It is not a sign of growth in grace and knowledge where there is a disposition ever to bring oneself forward. A city on a hill is seen a long way off, — miles perhaps; and that should teach us how God has left us here as witnesses for Him. But if I our testimony be our object with ourselves as a very bright testimony, it will be but a miserable failure. In proportion as we have Christ before us will our testimony be right.

The Lord is indicating the hindrances to the shining. A bushel is connected with the business of this world, and how many a light is obscured by the business of this world. God has lighted the candle that it may shine for the benefit of others. In another place it says, "nor under a bed." We must not give way to indolence. It gives light to all that are in the house, the usefulness of it there. Now then do not let it be obscured by ease, even lawful occupation; "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This is anything but advertising our good works. Let your light so shine that they may not give praise to you, but glorify your Father. Take a Unitarian. I do not believe the devil deals with such a one as he does with a saint of God. The Unitarian is in Satan's service; he is thoroughly deluded, building on what he can do, and rejecting Christ; and I have known some extremely particular about their ways, but does that bring glory to God? No, alas! But what a christian does, brings praise to God, not to himself.

The Lord came to give a largeness to the law, to fill it out, so to speak (ver. 4 ). The books of Moses, the Pentateuch, are distinguished sometimes from the prophets, as "the law." Sometimes the word "law" is used as in Psalm 1 to denote all that God is pleased to reveal. In other places it means the ceremonial law; we must not make it always mean the same. The One who had given the law is speaking here with authority. "I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Jot and tittle — not the dot of an "i," nor the cross of a "t" of His whole revealed word shall pass till all be fulfilled. This is exceedingly sweet to us. What an inestimable treasure we have in His word, which God has given us.  It is more stable than heaven or earth, more substantial, more lasting; and that is what we have to build on for eternity! How careful then should we be lest in any way we corrupt God's word! The Pharisees made it void and set it aside by their traditions. The Lord Jesus brings it in when they found fault with His disciples for not washing before food. Then the Lord showed them they were the ones to be judged because they made void the law through their traditions. They brought in a tradition which said, 'I have given that to God, and so I need not care for father or mother'; thus nullifying the law.

He impresses again and again that it is not enough to know the truth, if the truth is not operating. If ye know, happy are ye if ye do. Again, finishing up this section of the Gospel in chap. 7 "Whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them," is the prudent man. Those who hear and do not, are foolish and builders on sand.

"Your righteousness" (ver. 20) that is a very solemn thing. It is not the gospel. It is what is produced in us — righteousness. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Whatever we attempt to do to make ourselves fit for God is as "filthy rags," and only makes our case worse. "Though I wash myself in snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me," said Job. After I have used the best natural means to make myself fit for God, all is proved worse than useless. But in the beginning of chap. 6:6 it says "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men" (R.V.); then follows the division of "your righteousness" (ver. 5) into, firstly, "alms" (vers. 2-4), then "prayer" (ver. 5-15), and lastly, "fasting (vers. 16-18). J.N.D., in his Translation, tells us in a note that the Rabbis use this word "righteousness" for "alms."

Now in Acts 10 we get a man introduced to us giving much "alms" and "praying" to God alway, and his prayers and his alms (his "righteousness" ) came for a memorial before God. That could not be said of an unconverted man. But here was a quickened soul, a subject of grace, but one who needed to hear words whereby he should be "saved." What Peter learnt was "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him."

This supposes in every case that where there is righteousness which God can accept, it comes from a quickened soul. The righteousness I have as a standing before God is Christ only; we cannot be too particular about that. But the grace that saves me teaches me (Titus 2). You cannot separate saving grace from teaching grace. But let us not put the cart before the horse, and subvert God's order. I must get salvation in purest grace. Grace comes to me with "salvation," and I accept it; then it teaches me how to walk. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees consisted in tithing "the mint and the rue," etc., but you must have a different righteousness to that, even the product of God's own grace. The Epistle of John brings this out very clearly. The eternal life that was with the Father had been manifested to us, and John was used of God to show us that beautiful life in his Gospel. In his Epistle he tells us we have that life, he shows it in its operation; first, obedience and love; secondly, righteousness and love; thirdly, truth and love.

The first evidence of the new birth in Saul of Tarsus was his praying. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He had been born again, the bitter persecutor had been met with in grace and this was the proof of the new birth, obedience. Another characteristic of it is dependence, showing itself in prayer; so Ananias is told, "Behold he prayeth."

It is as much "to" them as "of" them of old time. He had been showing the importance of the law and the prophets, and their stability; for there is nothing so stable as the word of God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of that word. He takes up instances which had been definitely spoken of in the word of God. I suppose there were those who were saying that the teaching of the Lord Jesus was opposed to that of Moses; but He shows that His sayings went deeper, revealing its force, and making known what God's eye rested on. When Cain discovered that God had accepted Abel, his countenance fell, murder was in his heart immediately. The same word in Hebrew is used for a "sin offering" as for "sin," and we ought to be able to discern which is meant by weighing the context. There is not a word about a "sin offering" until the law. "By the law is the knowledge of sin."

With what authority the Lord here speaks! The prophets could say, "Thus saith the Lord"; or the apostles, "This we say unto you by the word of the Lord"; but it is the Divine Lawgiver speaking here, One far above the most honoured servants, "I say unto you." I suppose verse 22 would show us there are degrees of guilt, but there is no "little" sin. The Psalmist pleads, "Pardon mine iniquity for it is great." Though he had so sorely wronged others, He was conscious it was against God he had sinned. "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight." Of Judas the Lord said, He that delivered Me unto thee has the greater sin. Great sin and greater, thus there are degrees of guilt, though all be great.

How jealous we ought to be about our hearts, how careful about anger. Of course there are times when we should sin if we were not angry. If anyone says anything derogatory of the Lord we ought to be angry, but this scripture shows us how careful we ought to be about ourselves personally. "The altar" does not mean the Lord's table, though we should examine ourselves before partaking of the Lord's Supper, and we shall have a far deeper sense of grace if we do. These were legal sacrifices, but as to ourselves the principle applies whenever we come to God. Even as to prayer. "If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me."

In Matthew 18:15 it is what I have against my brother because of some trespass against me, whose fault should be told him, but here it is my knowledge of his having something against me. The case is reversed. Pride is shown as much as anything in refusing to own when we are wrong. There is instruction for the remnant. Let everything be right. Seek to meet the mind of God as to others. We can all see where there is no reserve, everything clear and open: that should characterise the saint of God.

God is no adversary to man, and if it is a poor sinner it would be a wrong thought altogether that God needed to be reconciled. Take John 3:16, it would not admit such a thought! And when you get that full presentation of the gospel in 2 Cor. 5, it is, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," for the sinner is God's adversary. Yet on the other hand, we must not forget that whatever God does, it must be in perfect righteousness consistency with Himself He has given Christ as the Lamb; what His holiness demanded, His love provided; and the cross has put God in the wonderful position of being able righteously to bless the vilest sinner according to the full love of His heart. But God is a judge; the Father is never called so except in the discipline of His children (1 Peter 1). It is man who has made God a judge, not in His nature, but through man's sin. And here as to Israel, sin had made Him an adversary by their rejection of Christ, culminating in the cross, and now they are cast out of their land; or, in the language of our chapter, are "cast into prison." The cities of refuge have a certain correspondence to it, for they must remain outcasts until "the death of the High priest." That is, when there is an end of Christ's priestly services for His people as now going on, then Israel will return to the land of their possession. Today when any of them are converted they lose their nationality and become members of the body of Christ, where there is neither Greek nor Jew. But, as in Isaiah 40:2, the time will come when God will deal with them again in grace. Where they are now, nationally, the veil is on their heart when they read the Old Testament. But the veil will be taken away and repentance wrought — a necessity for the whole human race if any are to be blest. In Acts 3 it was promised that on Israel's repentance "times of refreshing" should come from the presence of the Lord. So as we read that verse we must remember where they are now, as a people, and that repentance must and will be wrought in them. In Lev. 23, on the great day of atonement every soul was to mourn or else be cut off; and in Zechariah we see that repentance is then wrought and they all individually mourn. We have an illustration of this in Joseph; his brethren must be broken down; and you get in that wonderful outpouring of Judah's heart a sample of the repentance of the remnant.

On the ground of law payment must be to the uttermost farthing; and it has been paid in the cross of Christ for the believer. Though God has not made a covenant with the church they get the benefit of "the blood of the covenant." The blood has been shed, but the making of the covenant is for Israel and is yet future. We get the blessing of it, however, for the atonement is worldwide and not for the nation only "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" — future for Israel; true of us now, as Heb. 8; 12 show. The majesty of the law was never so upheld as in the death of Christ. He kept it perfectly in every step of His life, magnified it, and made it honourable; but He bore the law's curse for those who had broken it. Though Gentiles were not put by God under the law, yet the blessing of Abraham comes on them through Jesus Christ in consequence of Christ being "made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:8-14). When we come to think of the law it demanded what man never could give, and cursed him for not having done it; but grace first blesses a man and then enables him to work far more than the law demanded.

Rom. 8:3 shows that the law, though "holy, just, and good," was weak through the flesh, but the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled by us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. That is what the Spirit produces because we have the new life. The new life alone was not sufficient. We need the spirit too. Compare Rom. 7 with Gal. 5 (ver. 17 should be "that ye may not do," not that ye cannot do).

Matthew 5:27-48

1917 321 Many that were around the Lord in His day were very punctilious even about tithing the herbs in their gardens, etc. But what were they? They got praise of men, as for a pretence they made long prayers and sounded a trumpet before them, but what is the Lord's estimate? Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees hypocrites! The Lord is showing the searching character of the law; so, of some who might pride themselves on not having committed adultery, what does the Lord say, Who looks on the heart? All this shows how watchful we ought to be of our hearts, and to let the word search us through and through. "The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Whilst, of course, every act of evil demands our condemnation of it in self-judgment, not less should we judge every evil intent in us, and the thought that gave rise to it. Thought, intention, action, that is the order here. Nothing but reality will meet the mind of God. Deep reality should characterize every one of us.

Our right eye may be an occasion of stumbling (ver. 29). Hell is here "gehenna" or the lake of fire. The place where the children were first offered to Moloch was called the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, and here was burnt the refuse of the city. But we must be on our guard against those who use this to teach unsound doctrine. It is "their worm" man's own individual conscience — that never dies, and further, the fire of God's judgment is never quenched. All this about the eye and the hand teaches us that nothing of however great value and usefulness should hinder us from self-judgment. A thorough judgment of self there must be, if we would be happy and useful. The more we judge ourselves the less disposed we shall be to judge others, though never winking at evil. There are spheres where we are called to judge, others where we should not. If we are right we should not judge motives. But the world we shall judge by and by and now, them that are without God judgeth. The world wants a millennium without the personal presence of the Son of God, and such a thought should be abhorrent to us. But He is coming to reign, and a millennium there shall be. And when He reigns on the throne of David we shall reign with Him.

Scripture says "Do not ye judge them that are within." Oh, what divine wisdom is needed here, for we should remember what is due to Him. Yet the most unsparing judgment should be of ourselves (ver. 31). Israel's sad condition it was that led to this permission, but from the beginning it was not so. But then there may truly be a cause, and where that is, then before God the marriage tie is broken. If one were rightly exercised as to what was due to the Lord, I do not think any would care to marry while the one who had sinned was alive. But if they did, I do not see how the assembly could rightly interfere.

Swearing — (vers. 33-39). I was once in a position where I refused to swear. I was a very young christian then, and thought I was acting on this scripture in faith. I do not think I displeased the Lord, though afterwards I learnt I had made a mistake. Paul used a very strong asseveration when he wrote, "I call God to witness upon my soul," and no doubt it was necessary on that occasion — the expression is only once used in scripture. Then again, take that verse in James 3, "earthly, sensual, devilish." That word is only used once. Because it is so used it is no warrant for us to be constantly using it. When the high priest put the Lord on an oath, the Lord spoke; and so if the powers that be require us to take an oath (unless that oath is wrong in itself) it is due that we obey, and meet what they require. But in our ordinary conversation we cannot be too simple. Let our words be always with grace seasoned with salt; it is evidently grace that is to govern.

Then in verse 40, it is the spirit of the thing, not the literal turning of the cheek, etc. In the Epistles we have what is even higher — to be forgiving, not self-assertive, meek and lowly, following the Lord, not answering railing for railing (1 Peter 2). This should be our character; not yielding, however, where there is evil, for then we ought to be as firm as a rock. Yet should it be a quiet firmness, not a lot of clatter like a horse's hoof, but like the clean animal which had a divided hoof (Lev. 11). There was never one so unresisting as the blessed Saviour Himself. Such a spirit is what the world despises, tramples under foot, and thoroughly misunderstands, they put graciousness down as cowardice, yet never was one so faithful as He who is the pattern of grace. Look at Ps. 40:9. The great congregation was Israel, when all the males had to appear before Jehovah and He went up with them. "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation" — the very opposite of cowardice. And quite compatible with the most perfect faithfulness is His meekness and gentleness. The faithful man of this Ps. 40 is the poor man of Ps. 41. I have no doubt, too, the spirit of Christ in the remnant is also there. A greater number have gone astray in the proper under standing of the Psalms than in any other part of the scripture. They call for greater subjection of mind to rightly divide them, than perhaps any other book of the Bible. We shall be kept right if we have the Lord ever before us, as revealed in the word. Christ is the key to it all.

I have no doubt they were making a misuse of that communication: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." It was not for them to avenge themselves, but it was given as instruction to the judges in their administration of justice. But we are called to more than righteousness. The Christian standard is vastly higher than the Jewish. "The grace of God that brings salvation to all men has appeared, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly [as to ourselves], righteously [towards others] and godlily" [as regards God]. We should never act unrighteously, but graciously, and godlily. The principles of the kingdom of heaven show us we are to act graciously. The kingdom of heaven was "at hand" when the Lord was here; it is in "mystery" now that the King is on high; and by and by the kingdom will be in "power."

What this chapter presents corresponds to much that we get in the Epistles of Peter. For instance, "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," etc. Also "Let your yieldingness be known unto all men." It is necessary to remember that every truth has its counter-truth; there should never be yieldingness and graciousness at the expense of holiness. "Follow [or pursue] peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"; so it is guarded: and these guards we need. The Lord Himself is the perfect pattern. He was pre-eminently the unresisting one; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter! But He Who is the Lamb is the Lion also. And we must remember that now, while we are here and the Lord rejected, we have to show this grace. We shall not always have to show it. What is said of the Lord in Psalm 2, is said of the overcomer in Rev. 2. It is now that we have the opportunity of carrying out these principles which the Lord has revealed as those of His kingdom.

"Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also" (ver. 39). Of course we must be careful that we understand these principles. This is not the spirit of defiance; for in this there may be real pride. It is non-resistance to evil. Look at the dignity of the Lord Jesus when they smote Him. He did not turn the other cheek. We must seek to understand the principle of the thing. Was Paul acting according to this when he said, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall"? There was only One Who was the fine flour of the meal offering. The greater the pressure the more the perfection of the fine flour is shown out. Even the blessed apostle there failed; his impetuosity came to the top. In the O.T. we read, "He who rules his spirit is greater than he that takes a city." A saint of God is not to keep company with an angry man. Grace, however, at once showed itself in the apostle. When they said, "Revilest thou God's high priest?" he said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people: he bowed to the word at once. Let us remember what Peter says, for it is in keeping with the principle here. A saint suffering for what is right, and taking it patiently is a plain instruction for us. What a splendid testimony we should bear if we all carried out these principles! The infidel could not say then that Christianity is a failure. It is the neglect of the word of God that has brought things where they are. It is not the fault of the word, but of the neglect of it. Ah better never to have had a revelation than, with the knowledge of it, to have turned aside from the holy commandment. Spite of all the corruptions of Christianity there is a contrast between those countries which have had but the outward knowledge of Christianity and those that are still heathen.

"If any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat [thy inside garment], let him have thy cloak also" [the outside one] (ver. 40). I do not think any of us could make any mistake as to the principle here. Under the law they were not allowed to keep it overnight if the man was poor, because it was the covering of the bed. For the christian to prosecute another is unbecoming; and if himself prosecuted, there is the opportunity to show the difference between the christian and the worldling. We can always put things into the Lord's hands.

It is a poor thing for the christian to stand on his rights. If Moses (Num. 12) had stood for his rights, the Lord would not have stood up for him; and if we stand for ours, He will not stand up for us. The Spirit's testimony to Moses was that He was very meek. He did not resist them, and, in result, Miriam got the leprosy and needed her brother's prayers. As christians we are forbidden to go to law. I believe that Phil. 4:4, the book of christian experience as it has been called, would cover much that we have here. "Let your yieldingness be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand," and this in two ways.

In all these verses of our Gospel we have different examples of the same truth. "Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain" (40). If in verse 39 we have "resist not evil," here it is "be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Verse 42 has been a puzzle to many who want to act rightly. I have no doubt the meaning of it is that we should be liberal-minded. In the O.T. the blessedness of this is pointed out. Of the Lord it is said, "He went about doing good." "We are to do good to all men, specially to them who are of the household of faith." Where we have opportunity to give, let us remember, "Freely ye have received, freely give."

But would it be right to give, if we knew the person would make an ill use of it? Must we use that as an excuse if we have been victimised? How ready some people are to borrow? Surely there are counter-truths to guide us in all these questions. The good man spoken of in Ps. 112 will not only "show favour and lend," but "will guide his affairs with discretion." There is a guard for us. Suppose a thoroughly lazy man, who will not work though able, but lives by borrowing — 2 Thess. 3:10 affords direction for us. That supposes a man who refuses to work when he can. There may be an excellent brother out of work, and in need, and it is a privilege to help such. But Scripture is given us to guide in all cases. It is not a book of rules, though all scripture is the rule to the christian, and where saints wait on the Lord He knows how to make plain. There are cases for exhortation. The very word that says, "From him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away," says also, "Owe no man anything." And a christian in a right state of soul would not be happy to owe any man anything. A christian is not governed by the world's standard. If one, for instance, becomes bankrupt and gets a "legal" release from the payment of his debts in full, is he not still before the Lord, morally responsible, though legally acquitted?

There was a man (I don't know if a christian) who, putting up as an M.P., was found to have been a bankrupt. It is known, however, that afterwards, being very successful in business, he had invited all his creditors to meet him. They did so and found a luncheon provided for them, and, under each of their plates, a cheque for the unpaid balance due to them respectively, with 5 per cent. interest added thereto. I also knew a Christian who came back to England from New Zealand in order to pay all his creditors in full. I would not be hard on a man who had failed and never had an opportunity to repay; we want to be hard on ourselves and not on others.

So in this verse we should show a generous spirit, but we need heavenly wisdom. All these things call for looking to the Lord. "Whoso has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion towards him, how dwells the love of God in him?" We must not forget that side. Yet we must not encourage evil. We may share a man's sin by giving to him, as for instance, if we knew a man would get drunk if we gave him money. There are two words translated "covetousness" in the N.T.: one means desiring more than you have got; the other keeping back what you ought to give. The Lord does not calculate as men do. The poor widow had cast in, according to the balances of the sanctuary, more than they all, though they had cast in something. The Lord still sits over against the treasury.

I think that poor widow is often quoted unjustly. People often say, "the widow's mite"; but she had two mites, all she possessed, and she put in both. We are warned that "the love of money is a root of all evil," and no doubt christian communities have been great lovers of money, and all sorts of schemes have been resorted to to get money. The Lord will not have hypocrisy; He must have reality.

Verse 43. "It has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy." This latter clause was a deduction, the inference of an evil nature. The law said, "Love your neighbour"; but there was no instruction to hate an enemy. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies." No one could do this naturally or apart from the grace of God. Only in the knowledge of the grace of God that when we were enemies Christ died for us, can we do so. Very lovely is this instruction, when we think of Himself, and the unrighteous way He was treated — the crown of thorns, mocking, scourging, and nailing to the cross, and then the cry, "Father, forgive them."

A little reflex of this we see in Stephen. They cast him out and stoned him, and he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord lay not this sin to their charge. The same grace that enabled Stephen — a man of like passions with ourselves — to act thus can enable us. It is very lovely, and meets the Lord's mind. But there is a great contrast between the Master and the servant. Stephen said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." The Lord Jesus could dismiss His spirit. He only.

There is a singular connection between Stephen and the apostle Paul. There you get the beginning of the gospel of glory. The twelve had the gospel of the grace of God committed to them. But Paul says, "The gospel of the glory of the blessed (or, happy) God which was committed to me" (1 Tim. 1:11). The others had spoken of the exaltation of Christ, but of Stephen it is said, "He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God," and he bore testimony to it. And the Lord lays His hand on him who was standing by and consenting to Stephen's death, and says, "To you I commit that gospel of the glory of God." One that acts on the principles of this chapter will specially need the Lord's care and protection. How the world would take advantage and seek to tread on them! They need the Lord's protection and they shall get it. Paul says, when all forsook him, "the Lord stood by me and strengthened me," and he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And He is the One we also want. And unless there is the realisation of that we shall not have power to carry this out.

In verse 45 it is, not children but sons; "children" is always connected with birth. The apostle John in his writings never uses the word "son" for any but the Lord Jesus, with but one exception (Rev. 21:7). When he refers to the saints of God it is always "children." In the 1st chapter of his Gospel, verse 12, "as many as received Him to them gave He power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born of God." So in his 1st Epistle (3:1), "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God."

But when it is a question of "sons" it refers to our position; and is connected with redemption in Galatians, while here; it is a question of character. "The sons of your Father" "your Father that makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good" — not simply God, but your Father, and we are called to have the family character and show the same grace, as sons of such a Father. The one that loves his enemies, and does good to them that hate him, bears the character of a son of the Father who makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good. Think how He is treated and blasphemed, and of the character of man! Yet He treats them so, and He is "your Father."

Verses 47, 48. There ought to be a maturity about us to better show out that family character. There is no such thought here as sinless perfection. The context must always show the meaning of "perfect." God says to Abraham, "I am El Shaddai" — the all-sufficient One; all resources are in Me; now use them and be perfect. Paul says, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect," there it is in contrast with a babe. The Lord Jesus says, "I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." Here He means resurrection. And it is used of us too — that they without us should not be made perfect that is, perfected in resurrection. In Phil. 3:12-15 the word is used in two senses. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after," etc., i.e., he would not be perfect till he reached the Lord in glory. "Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus minded."

So there was a sense in which he was not perfect, another sense in which he was perfect, viz., a full grown christian, and others with him. Then again in Heb. 6 "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." The principles are the alphabet; we are not always to be in the A B C class, but to go on to full growth. Referring back to chap. 5 we find that they needed that one taught them these principles again. The Corinthians had never been more than babes; these Hebrews had, and had gone back, so that they needed milk again and not strong meal, which belongs to the full grown. So we see by these examples how necessary it is for us to consider the context in all cases.

Matthew 6:1-15

1917 337 In the principles of the previous chapter we see the contrast between law and grace. There is no reference to the law in what follows. Chapter 6 commences with "righteousness" (vers. 1), not "alms"; and then in the "alms" (ver. 2), and "prayers" (ver. 5), and "fastings" (ver. 16) that follow, we get what this "righteousness" is.

Righteousness is consistency with relationship, whatever that may be. So we get in divine righteousness that which is consistent with God in relation to us. Here it is conduct consistent with the believer's relationship. There is to be no seeking praise from men, but to be content with God's approval. The apostle could say, It is a small thing with me to be judged of you or of man's day. It is a very small matter to one who is right with God. Not he who commends himself — that is what these hypocrites do — is approved, but whom the Lord commends. All through it shows that if you are to get human applause you have your reward already, but if you seek it from God alone you won't lose it. We do well to take notice of these expressions. "Your Father which is in heaven" is perfectly right for disciples on earth, but where do you get anything like this in the Epistles, after the Lord went to heaven? There was a place of worship on earth; it is now removed to heaven, where we are encouraged to draw nigh with a true heart in full assurance of faith. If we are in the heavenlies, and realise where grace has brought us, would it not be strange to address God as "Our Father which art in heaven", though quite right for disciples on earth before the veil was rent? After verse 2 we get the details of what is given in verse 1 generally, and a very solemn searching word it is.

These men are called by the Lord hypocrites. It will not be amiss to remember that the Lord calls the religious leaders hypocrites, "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees hypocrites." God is not deceived; He does not look on the outward appearance. If their hearts had been right they would not have drawn attention to what they did, for that is what is implied by "sounding a trumpet" before them. It is a fatal thing to seek glory of men. God and the world are always opposed. The Lord says, "I receive not honour from men"; and, "I know you that ye have not the love of God in you." God looks for the single eye; this is the great point here, and the most important one; for it would settle many a difficulty if our one object were to please the Lord. "Wherefore we are ambitious", says the apostle, "that whether present or absent, we may be well pleasing to Him" (or "acceptable," not "accepted"). We are "accepted" in the Beloved, and it is "to the praise of the glory of his grace." There is nothing higher than this; it is the very glory of it. It is altogether of God's grace. Grace — "riches of his grace" — "the glory of his grace" — and this last is the highest. Therefore I labour, "make it my aim," to be well-pleasing to Him Who has showed me this grace. There is no such thing as labouring for salvation; that would be uphill drudgery. But having got it I can labour to please Him. Those who seek glory of men shall get it, but this is not glory of God.

But the Lord says also, "When thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (ver. 3). So it is clearly indicated there that we should not only not talk about them (for it is a miserable thing for saints of God to be advertising their own goodness in any way), but we should also not think about it. Self-gratulation is a miserable thing. We ought to remember Luke 17:10. Let us show the connection, it will quite fit in with what we have in our chapter. In Luke 17:6 the Lord shows that whatever obstruction there is, and however formidable against your acting in the gracious way indicated in the previous verses, it shall be removed. But then there would be the danger of your thinking yourself a very gracious person, and so the Lord gives us verses 7-10. However much grace you show in carrying out the Lord's instruction, say, nevertheless, "We are unprofitable servants." The Lord won't let us have high thoughts of ourselves at all, for all we have is of grace. So do not let us talk of our goodness or think of it.

What have we to forget as to the past? Sometimes people say, I delight to think of God's past goodness. And quite rightly, for where the words "forgetting those things that are behind" occur, it speaks of a race and attainment. Whatever in our past history that would minister to our pride let us forget; whatever would humble us let us remember: then we are wise. So let not your left hand know what your right hand does, means don't dwell upon it. I believe from these words there is much done in the way of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting that is pleasing to God, but which neither the world nor our fellows know anything about. That which is pleasing to God is not displayed here, the time of display will come, but this is the hidden life. Your Father which is in secret is He Who knows the secrets, and He is "not unrighteous to forget your work, and the love that ye have shown to His Name in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." We have no right to speak of people as hypocrites. It must be the One Who can read the heart to say that. Judas, was a hypocrite when he kissed the Lord. Peter was not, though he denied Him. Judas never loved the Lord, Peter did.

"They love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets" (ver. 5), that they may pass as very pious people — that is the thought. And from the instruction we have here we must not think it wrong to pray in public; we have other scriptures to guide us about that. In the First Epistle to Timothy we have instructions for the Order of God's house; in the second Epistle we have "a great house" in disorder. The First was written to show how we ought to behave "in the house of God ", which is a living God's assembly; so in chap. 2 we get instruction about the prayer meeting, and what we ought to pray for. The words "that the men pray everywhere" show it to be the prayer meeting; the women have as much right to pray in private as men, but here it is the prayer meeting where they must be silent. Sisters have a very honoured place, and many a One who has been true to the Lord will have a reward by and by.

"When thou prayest," etc. (ver. 6). As a general rule in the scriptures, long prayers are in private, and short ones in public. We get the Lord spending the night in prayer. There is more about the Lord praying, in Luke's Gospel than in the other three. He is there the Son of man, in dependence. The Lord was going to choose the twelve, and the night before, He spent in prayer. Here is a blessed lesson for us. It shows how careful we ought to be in undertaking anything to do it in communion with God's thoughts. That is where fasting comes in, unknown to any but God; that which is laid on the heart being so absorbing that food for the body is not thought of. The Lord said, on the mount of transfiguration when the man brought his boy and the disciples could not cast the demon out, "This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting." There may be that in our experience which requires much prayer and fasting. "Enter into thy closet, etc." I remember a man who no doubt entered into the closet and shut the door, but all the neighbourhood knew when he prayed, for he prayed so loudly! You do not want to make a display or to let others know of it. A shut door implies that. Daniel was in accordance with Solomon's prayer, when he prayed with his windows opened toward Jerusalem, for there was a house of prayer then on earth. What we see in him is not ostentation but fearlessness of man. What a privilege we have now, far beyond what these disciples knew. We can pray to our Father in secret amid the greatest bustle which the world ever knew. Look at Nehemiah 2:1-4. There was a secret in his own soul; his heart went up to God before he answered the king. You can do it in secret amidst the antipathies of everyday life.

Repetitions are not wrong. The Lord Himself prayed three times in Gethsemane; but verse 7 speaks of vain repetitions. Have not I seen such instructions as, that it is a good thing for the soul to repeat the Lord's prayer ten times and such like? There you get the thought; the heathen thought they would be heard for much speaking, but a soul may be very stammering yet the Lord knows the heart, the meaning of a sigh, when we cannot put it into words, and before ye ask, your Father knoweth. He loves to hear us! "Let me see thy countenance; let me hear thy voice," what wonderful grace! How can I have a comely countenance when looking up to God? It is the comeliness of Christ and the sweetness of Christ's voice.

"After this manner, therefore, pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven" (vers. 9-12). This is the disciples' prayer and the perfect thing, from the Lord's lips. But, as pointed out already, it is for disciples on the earth. When Paul is praying he says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom every family in heaven and earth is named" not to "Our Father which art in heaven," for in the same epistle he speaks of us as already seated in heavenly places in Christ. Besides, the Lord told His disciples, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come he shall guide you into all truth." They would be put into an entirely new position with new desires. No form of prayer is given the saints after the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost.

Turn to John 16. The Lord is going away, and He says, "In that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily I say unto you Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he will give it to you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name, ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (vers. 23, 24). These disciples whom the Lord taught this prayer had asked nothing in His Name. That means that since redemption is accomplished, the believer stands in the same relationship as Christ, and asking in His Name is realising that. To go back. This is an individual thing, but "Our Father" because it is a common privilege. The Lord says, "My Father and your Father." This is right for us now, but it is unintelligent to add "which art in heaven," for we are in the heavenlies too, in Christ. If one's eyes are opened to see what the teaching of the Epistles is, we see how it is all of grace, and one would not look down on any who may use it, not knowing better. Those to whom this prayer was given could not be spoken of as "praying in the Holy Ghost" because He was not yet given.

"Hallowed be Thy name." This is true in every dispensation. "Thy kingdom come." What we have before us now is something nearer to us than the kingdom — the coming of the Lord to take us to heaven, because we belong there. "Looking for that blessed hope," that is the nearer thing to us. But this prayer will all be fulfilled in the millennium. The believer now is "elect … through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Directly God begins a work in a soul, that soul is sanctified to obedience, and we are admonished to be "not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is"; and the will of the Lord is different for a saint now from what it will be for others at a later day. Paul's desire for the Colossians was that they "might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding?" Is it not becoming that we should be dependent on God?

"Give us this day our daily bread." Many a saint of God would almost break his heart if he thought his income would come to an end in twelve months' time. But this implies that we look to Him and as having no other resource for today's needs.

"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." The christian is put on different ground altogether. "Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you." The fact that God has forgiven us should make us forgiving of others. There is eternal forgiveness, and there is governmental forgiveness in the word. In Colossians we read, "having forgiven you all trespasses" and the blessing of the new covenant is "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more"; while the teaching of Hebrews is "He has perfected for ever", — in perpetuity" them that are sanctified." Sin can never be imputed as guilt to a believer; we are perfected for ever, and have no more conscience of sins. But does a christian sin? And does he not need forgiveness? Yes, in God's government. Communion is interrupted by sin, and so "if any man sin." The standard is that we sin not, but if any man sin — God has made provision for it, "we have an Advocate with the Father." An eternal relationship has been formed; the Righteous One is my righteousness. If the believer should have sinned, there is one Who takes up my case in the presence of God, and makes me conscious of the sin. There is a cloud on my conscience, I am bound to confess it, and I am led to confess it. "If we confess our sins" — that was true at first when I came as a poor sinner — "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." And if I come as a saint, it is still true for me now, and thus it is that communion is restored.

Matthew 6:9-23

1917 353 Of course there is not a word about redemption here, because redemption was not accomplished when this prayer was given. Luke tells us it was given in answer to the disciples' request, and when we remember it was at an early part of the Lord's ministry, no doubt they used it for years; but at the close of His ministry the Lord says to them, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." So that they had never asked anything in the Lord's name. The mere adding "for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake" at the end of a prayer is not this. But that we ask in the consciousness of the new position in which the Lord has brought His own since redemption.

When the Holy Ghost was sent down, the believer was placed in a new and wondrous position — "one spirit with the Lord"; "as He is so are we"; "taken into favour in the Beloved." John 17. shows us that the Father has the same love for us as He has for His Son the man Christ Jesus; and He has given us His position before the Father in heaven, because we have the Holy Ghost. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me [up there before the Father], and I in you" [down here on the earth]. Asking in His name is asking as one who has His position of nearness and dearness, not one on earth looking up to a Father in heaven. One using this prayer is in the same position as the disciples before redemption was accomplished. The position of the disciples was a mixed one. There are those who would teach children to sing
"I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
That His arms had been thrown around me,
That I might have seen His kind look when He said
Let the little ones come unto Me."
But a believing child now is in a much better position than those dear children, because they had not the Holy Ghost, since redemption was not accomplished. The apostle said to the Corinthians, "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more," but now we know Him in a far more blessed way through the Holy Ghost.

We were looking at ver. 12 when we closed the meeting last week. "As we have forgiven" is a well authenticated reading. Suppose we took that prayer as a universal one to be used by everybody, where is the room for the gospel if the unsaved are to use it? It is putting people on their works. But if we see this was for disciples we see that it is governmental forgiveness and not a question of eternity; if we cherish an unforgiving spirit, God in His government will make us feel it. Looking again at Luke 17, to which we have already referred, we see (ver. 3-5) how the disciples thought it would require great faith to carry out what the Lord had just said: and a very practical lesson for all of us is in what follows in ver. 6. Mustard seed is very small, and however tiny our faith is, all things are possible with God, and all things are possible to him that believeth; so, however small your faith is, use it and the hindrances to your carrying out the Lord's words in these verses will be removed. This shows that if we fail in this graciousness it is because we don't look to the Lord. But there is a needs be to put the other side and so we have verses 7-10. Suppose you have forgiven a brother seven times a day, do not have high thoughts about yourself in consequence rather, say "We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do." How the word of God strips us of all pride and boasting!

Returning to our chapter, the disciples are here (Matt. 6:13) asking the Father to "Lead us not into temptation." This is not temptation to sin, for James says (James 1:13) "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man." Satan tempts man to evil, and we have an evil nature that responds to it. James commences his Epistle with "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." Here the word means trials. God tempted, that is, tried Abraham. There is all the difference between our entering into temptation and God trying us. God may lead us into trial, as He did Abraham. But the Lord said to Peter, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." If we enter presumptuously into trial, we are bound to fall; but if the Lord does lead us into it He will sustain us. Those to whom James wrote were since redemption, and had the Holy Ghost. If it were not so, they could not count it all joy.

The latter clause of Matt. 6:13, as is well known, is an interpolation, and should not be there. The prayer ends with "deliver us from evil." In verse 14 the Lord goes back to ver. 12. It is God's governmental dealings with His children, and so it is "your heavenly Father," and quite different to Col. 2:13. They had life through God's gracious quickening, and as to their standing before. God all trespasses were forgiven; but if in our relationship with our Father we do not cultivate this spirit of forgiveness, we are losers. Contrast Col. 1:12-14 with this prayer, and the simplest soul can surely see that Colossians is far in advance. When God unfolds to me that I have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and that I am delivered from Satan's authority and power, it draws out from me that thanksgiving which is due to the Father. The disciples asked for a prayer, and He gave them this form, but to us He has given the Holy Ghost, and we should pray in the Holy Ghost. If we turn to the Psalms, we find there a book of prayer and praise exactly suited to the Jewish remnant in a day that is coming, but not adequately suited to us. We have no set form of prayer and praise given to us Christians, but we profit from every book of the Bible, the whole word of God. Yet while there are many utterances of the Psalms suited to us, yet, if a person used the book without discriminating what is suited to an earthly people they would get into a very unsatisfactory state of soul.

Look at those who try to christianise what belongs to the Jew, and who say that the imprecatory psalms belong to a barbarous age! How would Ps. 109:4-13 suit you? It is utterly opposed to all we have been reading of the principles of the kingdom, and to the spirit of the christian, but it will be quite right for the remnant, so that unless we learn to rightly divide the word of truth, we get into terrible difficulties. The whole Bible is for us, but not all about us. There are parts of the Psalms that belong to the Lord Jesus only; parts also which belong to Him and the remnant; and there are parts too that may be applied to the christian now, and to the remnant by and by.

A greater number have been led into error through a misuse of the Psalms than of any other book. There are parts in which people delight, because there it is not so much God revealing Himself and instructing us, as it is the experimental outpouring of the saint. Ps. 32 is quoted in Rom. 4. You get the negative side in the Psalm, and the positive side in Romans, and a very blessed Psalm it is to preach the gospel from, only you must make a right use of it. And that very 109th Psalm, to which I have already referred, was quoted by Peter, in Acts 1, before the Holy Ghost was given.

An O.T. saint prayed "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me"; but a christian could not intelligently so pray, because now that the indwelling Spirit is given to those who obey Him, "He shall abide with you for ever." The Holy Ghost came upon even wicked men in the O.T., as for instance, Saul and Balaam, who were never born again, and though by Him the O.T. saints were born again, He never indwelt any until redemption. This so-called Lord's prayer was not prayed in public; it was "Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray." In Acts 4 the place was shaken where the apostles were gathered together praying. I can recall no record in the Gospels of their being so gathered, though the promise of "If two of you shall agree, etc.," is in view of it, and would show the blessedness of fellowship in the things of the Lord.

Verse 16. — Here we come to the third component of "your righteousness" with which the chapter began. The first is alms; the second, prayer; the third, fasting. Do not let what you give, be before men; let your prayers be in secret, and do not let your fasting appear before men. The hypocrites wanted to advertise themselves, and they had their reward; they were esteemed very pious people. Fasting itself may be an evil thing. Writing to the Colossians the apostle condemns neglecting the body; but we may well conceive a soul with such a burden on the heart before God that it takes no food but remains before Him that is true fasting. Do not let there be anything to promulgate it. Let it be a secret between your soul and God. It will be a blessing to you if there is reality, and it is a real expression of your soul before God. There is a great desire for the nation now to spend a day of humiliation and prayer; if only a form it will be a very poor thing, but if there is really a humbling before God, it will correspond with Nineveh.

Now we come to another division of the chapter (vers. 19-24). As far as the christian is concerned, if he has money he simply has it as a steward. In early days they had all things common, when all the saints were in Jerusalem. But that could not be carried out now. We have further instructions since failure has come in; see 1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19, where raiment should read "covering"; the word in the original takes in a roof as well as raiment. That fits in a good deal with this chapter. Those who have money like to invest it wisely, and the Lord shows here how to do it. "He that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord." One could not have a safer investment, or better interest. We do not know what a day or an hour may bring forth. Three years ago people in Belgium little thought what would occur. Riches take to themselves wings and fly away. They will never fly away if invested thus. Heaven is the place to store them. The Lord is showing the place in which to deposit treasure. It is individual. What a blessed thing to be able to rightly appreciate what we have in heaven, and thus have our hearts set on things above, not on things on the earth!

The great point in ver. 22 is to have the single eye. It is a testing verse. Suppose I am distracted and in uncertainty about anything. Does not this tell me my eye is not single? If I want partly to please myself, and partly to please the Lord, I have not a single eye. But if I have a single eye for a single object, it will make my path easier as I go along.

Matthew 6:24-34

1917 369 We get numberless lessons in the word to show us that the Lord is not satisfied with a divided heart. A little farther on in this same Gospel (chap. 8), one man elects to follow the Lord. There is a play on the word "follow" there; the Lord read his heart. The scribe was after present advantage so the Lord opposed it by telling him it would be far otherwise. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head." Though often quoted as descriptive of the Lord's condition always, this was not so. Given chronologically, it was when the Samaritans refused Him that this declaration was first used by the Lord. Another one says, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father"; but the Lord will not have a divided heart. The Lord is jealous about our hearts. The sinner is often told to give his heart to the Lord, but there is no warrant for this in scripture. It is not a question of bringing, or giving up on the part of the sinner. But the christian should give his heart. "My son, give me thy heart" is all right for one in relationship. Here of course it is a question of service, but following and service are intimately connected; so in John 12. it is, "If any man serve me, let him follow me."

"Mammon" is not a word we get often in scripture. It is only here, and in Luke 16. From the context in each case we see worldly gain to be the prominent thought. Worldly gain, or earthly riches, is called "the mammon of unrighteousness" in Luke 16. So the grand lesson is, that we should give the Lord the first place in everything, and not to be double-hearted, or double-minded. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Then the thought may arise, "Well, if I pursue that path it may take me into a path of trial —." So it will, and this is the lesson of chap. 8. If they had gone on with the multitude they would have escaped the storm. But it is a path of faith. The Lord will take care of those who are concerned for His glory. God's glory and our good are inseparably linked together for the believer. If we care for His glory, He will take care of our good. This verse 25 has puzzled not a few. J.N.D. gives, in his translation, "Do not be careful about your life, what ye should eat and what ye should drink." It means "anxious thought" take no anxious thought for your life. Now, we christians get further instruction in the Epistles: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." What a relief to the soul, to be able to hand up everything to the One who loves me perfectly, who has almighty power, and is always to be trusted! If this is realised, there will be always God's peace keeping the heart and mind. We have no power to keep our own. There we are let into the secret how it can be. You get eating and drinking and raiment here, and some have confined the teaching of 1 Tim. 6:8 to food and "raiment" (A.V.), but this latter word is really "covering" and takes in the shelter of a roof as well, a place to lie down in, as we have already remarked.

How blessed to realise we have a God who has given us Christ! He was not withheld, He was not spared. How becoming of faith then to say, "How shall he not with him also freely give us all things"! Paul's confidence in the Lord's gracious care of him comes out very beautifully in Phil. 4:19. He knew both how to be abased, and how to abound, and he knew how to suffer need, but he says, "My God shall supply all your need" (not from, but) "according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." If a mechanic met a mechanic who told him he was in need, and he gave him five shillings, it would be according to his comparative riches; but if he met a millionaire and he gave him a like sum it would be "from" but not "according to" his wealth. Twenty pounds would be less to him than five shillings to the mechanic. We all have occasion to be thankful that He has given us natural life. He who has formed the body and given it life, will surely supply the needs of that body! This is full of comfort to us, and encourages us to trust, and not to be afraid to go on in the path of faith. What follows shows us we can learn lessons from what surrounds us continually. The Lord drew lessons from the fowls and, farther on, from the sparrows. "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?" The word "feed" has the sense of "nourish." Man is in the place of responsibility to sow, and reap, and gather into barns. Isaiah 28 shows us that God has instructed him how to do it. There is a deeper lesson there, I know. If God taught man thus to use the different resources of nature, He Himself has a purpose in all His different dealings and dispensations. But it is encouraging to see God's gracious care of His lesser creatures. Look at the sparrows, two sold for a farthing, five for two farthings; and yet not one of them forgotten before God! Our poor hearts if left to themselves want to look a long way ahead. Yet scripture shows us all the time that "it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes." As to our path we have to walk individually, and one cannot lay down a rule for another, but a word of J.N.D.'s has been helpful to many, "Never go before your faith, and never lag behind your conscience."

The word "heavenly" is introduced here because the Lord was not then bodily in heaven, as He is now. "As is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly." The Father was not revealed until Christ came. The Lord said, "I have declared thy name unto my brethren and will declare it"; and yet, although the Lord taught them to say, "Our Father," almost at the beginning of His public ministry, yet how little did the disciples enter into it. For on the night of His betrayal, Philip says, "Lord show us the Father and it suffices us." The only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, He has told Him out. Now we are in the same place of nearness and dearness that He is in.

Verse 27, "A cubit" (18 inches) is a good bit to add to one's stature, but there are some who think it is not so much one's stature, as the length of one's life that is meant! He has numbered our steps, and we cannot take a step beyond that number; and that would correspond with a cubit, I think. Of course either is true. So the Lord, to inspire our confidence in Him, gives us lessons from the fowls, who make no provision for the future. "Your heavenly Father feeds them." There is one Psalm called David's "Psalm of praise" (145) wherein it is said, "The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season" (ver. 15).

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these" (vers. 28, 29). I dare-say, though it is going away from our chapter, that you have preached the gospel from this. Link it with Canticles, and hear what the Bridegroom says of the earthly bride: "As the lily among thorns" — the gorgeous lily growing in the thorn brakes of Palestine — "so is my love among the daughters." We have the teaching about the thorn; how it was introduced; and what its end will be. We were all thorns once. We can adopt these words for ourselves, and say that His grace has transformed us into the lily; arrayed in Christ, and the believing soul has that fragrance and beauty before Him. God is He that does this; it is not the result of their scheming and toil. The contrast in the Song of Solomon is between the lily and the King, who is as "my Beloved among the sons" (2:2-3). God formed the lily, and we can boast in Him "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."

How frequently, when people speak of faith, do we find that they think a believer ought never to be suffering from sickness that it is a shame, and due to something wrong in his path, and they talk of "faith-healing." But while we know God can do everything, and all things are possible to him that believes, we want faith also in His love, and wisdom, and care. Sickness may preserve us from going the wrong way. Paul's thorn in the flesh was not for anything wrong in his past path, but was given him as a preventive, lest he should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations. The danger was not when in the third heaven, but when he came down. "In everything let your requests be made known unto God." It is our holy, blessed privilege to hand everything up to God, but it is also our privilege to say, "Not my will, but thine be done." We would not limit the Lord's power, but we bow to His wisdom and purposes in all that He does. He is far more deeply interested in us than we can conceive. How much there is to inspire our hearts! But I think as to faith, the one who knows most about it, has the least to say about it. David kept the secret about the lion and the bear within his own soul, until it was right to speak of it, when he bore testimony before king Saul. But if you hear people constantly talking about their faith, I don't think there is much faith there: "Hast thou faith, have it to thyself before God."

What a wonderful wealth there was in Solomon's reign! It has been estimated that there was enough gold in Solomon's temple to more than equal the national debt before this war! and silver was like stones, we are told. The Queen of Sheba fainted at the sight, it so far exceeded her expectations, so we can see why the Lord here selects Solomon. However grand and beautiful his apparel was, it was but artificial. The other was of God.

"O ye of little faith" (ver. 30). Faith is the gift of God. It is our wisdom to use what God has given us. That is one lesson impressed upon us by the Lord's teaching. Faith works by love. When faith increased, love abounded. Another thing, speaking of that, is clear, namely, that faith without love has no real value. It works by love, and overcomes the world. Can there be the one without the other? Turn to 1 Cor. 13:2, "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." It is very important to see, in John's First Epistle, the place that love has as seen in the saint. It was seen in its perfection in the Lord when here, but in us it is first obedience and love, then righteousness and love, then truth and love.

"Therefore take no anxious thought" (ver. 31). This is to encourage us to have confidence in the Lord. I suppose the whole life of the Gentiles is taken up with these questions, "What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? "Our Father knows that we have need of these things, and He never withdraws His eyes from the righteous. What a blessed thing to have our souls stayed upon Him! What we have had before us here has some connecting link with the training Elijah had when taken to the brook Cherith. The Lord was training him for what we have in 1 Kings 18 that follows. He proved the Lord's care. The ravens brought him bread and flesh, till the brook dried up. Then he was taken to a widow. The Lord refers to this in Luke 4. There were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent to a Gentile, and you know what occurred. It was a blessed day for her when Elijah came there. But that was not Elijah's deepest lesson. He learnt that God was the God of resurrection. The apostle Paul at Troas (2 Cor. 1) was in great distress; but he too learnt that God was the God of resurrection. God gives faith and He sustains faith. Untried faith is no faith. If a person has great faith, he will have great trials. Little faith has little trials, Of the Thessalonians it was said, "Your faith grows exceedingly." Abraham's trial in Gen. 22 could not have come at the beginning of his course. He had been trained for it, and was sustained through it.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (ver. 33). This is the summing up of this part. It supposes submission of soul to God's holy revealed will. "And all these things shall be added unto you." The great thing must be God's glory, "God is faithful," the simple meaning of which is, God is to be trusted.

In the second clause of verse 34 we have "the morrow" personified, "The morrow shall take thought for itself" ("the things of" should be left out). How blessed and practical the lesson! Perhaps when the morrow comes, the thing dreaded will not be there; and if it is, God can bring us through it. "I, can do all things," said the great apostle, "through him that strengthens me."

Matthew 7:1-12

1918 5 It is quite possible to make a very bad use of the first verse. For instance, if it was made an excuse for not exercising discipline. There are spheres in which we are bound to judge, as Scripture clearly enjoins elsewhere.

First of all, we should judge ourselves; and self-judgment is not comparing ourselves with even the most godly brother we know, but comparing ourselves with Christ; and if that is duly exercised there will be no disposition to judge where we should not. The Corinthians were told, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world." Further, the assembly is called to judge, "Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judges" (1 Cor. 5:12-13). The world is outside our province now. "Them that are without God judges." But we have to think of the Lord's claims in His assembly, and according to the light of the New Testament, we have to judge in His assembly. The toleration of evil, doctrinal or moral, cannot be allowed therein. "Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven."

It may be that the evil cannot be purged out, but the believer's obligation to depart from evil is not thereby relieved. For, as in a great house there are vessels of gold and also of earthenware, and some to honour, and some to dishonour, so, if a man purge himself from the vessels to dishonour, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared to every good work. But we cannot judge motives. God only can do that. There are cases as to Christians which we could not judge. We have this seal amid all the confusion, "The Lord knows them that are His." But there is also the reverse side of the seal which speaks of our responsibility, "Let everyone that names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

Yet we have to be specially on our guard against judging motives. And I am sure it becomes us always to put the best possible construction on our brethren's actions; so we may well pray to be delivered from a censorious spirit; and this scripture shows that those who indulge in it come in for a large share of it from others. They are constantly spoken evil of by others. "For with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Then it goes on to show us that if there is not self-judgment there is the danger of minimising our own faults and magnifying the faults of others. Whereas it is self that needs to be judged constantly. How continually the blessed apostle exercised it! "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."

I hardly know which is worse — to be content to go along with sin on the conscience, or, on the other hand, not to be conscious of sin. Both are terrible. We are delivered from the guilt of sin, and we are delivered from the power of sin, but we are not delivered from its presence. Yet we shall be in a little while, when at home with the Lord, and that absolutely. So it is most deplorable not to be conscious of sin. 1 John 1:8 says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." But then it is terrible too to go along with sin on the conscience, because that shuts us off from communion; and what is our life worth, if we do not enjoy communion with the Father and the Son?

"Herein do I exercise myself." It will indeed cost us something in a world like this to have always a conscience void of offence. Conscience alone is not a sure guide. Paul shows us this when he says, "I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." But in another place he says, "My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost." If you get the word and the spirit and the conscience all in harmony, it is all right.

Verse 3 supposes a case where there is a very serious evil overlooked by a person in himself, and a much smaller thing taken notice of in a brother — a defect, a splinter, as one may say. Here it is some defect which one thinks he has detected in another. And the one who has not judged himself is altogether unfit to deal with another. "He that is spiritual" is the one to restore, if another is overtaken in a fault. The one self-judged before God is conscious that whatever another has done he is capable of doing the same or worse. "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." Hezekiah was left of God that he might know all that was in his heart, and what awful failure ensued. Nothing worse could happen to us than to be left to ourselves. Get the large thing removed first, the thing which hinders you from seeing clearly; and most likely you will find the mote in the brother's eye is gone too. Very often these motes are discovered by those who are in a bad, sour, state of soul. And if we really do see failure in another what is the best use we can make of that discovery? To correct it in ourselves. Then may we help our brother.

"Thou hypocrite" (verse 5), to be said to a disciple, is a strong word, but it is here uttered by the One who is the Truth, and knows the hearts of all. There is the possibility of even a true saint acting hypocritically. If we cover up our sins we are acting hypocritically. So appearing to others to be what we really are not, is hypocritical. Just in that sense you can understand a disciple being called so. Peter dissembled, and that was in the same lines. Well, then, first deal with yourself. You will see much more clearly when self has been judged before God. If that is neglected, we shall find it easy enough to see faults in others rather than in ourselves. To prove a thing you want a standard, and the standard God has given us is His written word. We have to prove everything by that word. In listening to the best teacher that ever lived, I am bound to prove all he says, "Take heed what ye hear," but in listening to the word itself the instruction is, "Take heed how ye hear." But it is a necessity for us to test everything by the word of God. The two standards of truth are the person of Christ, and the word of God. "The doctrine of Christ," in 2 John, is the teaching of the Holy Spirit about the divinity and humanity of the Lord Jesus.

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs," etc. (ver. 6). This has nothing to do with the gospel. The gospel has to do with every creature, no matter how bad they are. God's grace goes out to the most unlikely and the most unworthy. But we must be careful of putting that which specially belongs to the believer before the unsaved. Dogs and swine describe what we all were before grace met us. Turn to 2 Peter 2:22, "It has happened to them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit, again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." The countries that have been outwardly affected by christian doctrine will go back to greater filth than that from which they have been delivered.

The apostasy has to come, if not already at the door, the apostasy of Christendom. Men have taken the place of being christians, but they are not sheep. Everything must act according to its nature, and it is not according to the nature of a sheep to go rolling in the mud. These, of whom the apostle speaks, had never been born again. The Gentiles, in contrast to the Jews, were dogs. The Syro-phoenician woman addressed the Lord as "Son of David," and the Lord said, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." She had taken the place of covenant relationship, but she understood what the Lord said, and cast herself on His mercy, and no soul ever cast himself on His mercy in vain. She bowed to the truth. But grace as well as truth came by Jesus Christ. She took the place 0f a little dog, and the Lord told her she had great faith. But there is a very blessed connection between her and what follows in the same chapter. The Lord never gives a "crumb." The woman counted on a crumb, but the Lord always gives above our highest expectations. So we find there was a crowd of four thousand besides women and children, and to feed them there were seven loaves and a few small fishes, so that if literally broken up there would have been but a crumb each. But they were all filled, and more was taken up than they had to start with.

But to go back to our verse. Let us be careful what we talk of to the unsaved. Let us be sure they have laid hold of the gospel before we tell them the deep things of God. The scripture shows it will do them no good, and they will do us harm. But do not let us be deterred from preaching the gospel. It goes out to the vilest and the worst, the most unworthy and the most unlikely. Simon Magus was never a sheep. He believed and was baptised; yet what he believed in was that there was a superior power to anything he had ever exercised; but he was exposed when Peter and John came down. He thought what could be bought could be sold. He was not a child of God. To believe because of miracles does not necessitate a work of grace in the soul; the question of sin must be raised. The Lord did not believe in, or trust Himself to, those who believed because they saw His miracles, for He knew what was in man (John 2:23-25). There is a play on the word man of this last verse of chap. 2, and the first verse of chap. 3. Nicodemus was one of those who believed in Jesus because of the miracles, but such belief was not sufficient for seeing or entering the kingdom of God. "Verily, verily," says the Lord to him, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And so I do not think much of those who lecture about Christian evidences. The understanding may be convinced and yet the conscience and heart untouched. There must be repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. A person may have the Bible at his fingers' end, and be able to put everyone who argues with him into a corner, and yet not have a spark of divine life in his soul.

The Lord had previously given His disciples instructions as to prayer, but in the verses we now come to they are very blessedly encouraged to pray. "Ask, and it shall be given you" (verse 7). Oh, if we always acted on it! The apostle James says, "Ye have not because ye ask not," and he also adds, "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (4. z, 3). Now the way to ask rightly is the secret shown in John 15:7. "If ye abide in me" a life of dependence — "and my words abide in you" — they are formative and produce right desires — "ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." And this corresponds with Psalm 37:4, because if I am delighting in the Lord, right desires will be created. Neglect of the word of God would be neglect of the true safeguard. "Ask" implies something I desire to have; "seek" something I have missed, and "knock" wanting an entrance. It means increased importunity. There is more intensity in "seeking" than in "asking;" and again, in "knocking" than in seeking.

Matthew 7:13-29

1918 22 This is a very searching word, and a word that we need. It shows, as also the verses lower down, that an empty profession will not do; we must remember that we are in a world where everything is against Christ. And I often think people make too light of what christianity means. "If the righteous scarcely (or, with difficulty) be saved" — this alone shows that it is not an easy thing for a christian to go through this world. We know that we are in a different position from what these disciples were, and full provision was made for us, after the Lord died and rose, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. But this is the side we need to look at. Not only is it a narrow entrance, but narrow all the way; the path is narrow. There are two paths in the world, one broad which would speak of self-pleasing without reference to God; the other narrow, that of self-denial. "If any man would come after me let him take up his cross daily and follow me." This is not the Lord's cross, but every saint has his own cross in a world like this. In Luke, it is "Strive to enter in at the strait gate," and that would apply to real earnestness. It is where the question was put "Are there few that be saved?" The Lord never answered a curious question, curiously; He always answered morally. So here — you be in real earnest to be right individually. Gate and door have a like significance — that of entrance. A door is generally to a house, a gate gives entrance to a pathway. But the most important part no doubt is the end of the journey. The end of the broad road is destruction; the end of the narrow path, life. Of course it presupposes life if you are to enter, and to pursue it. We commence with eternal life, and the end is eternal life. "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life," that is the starting point; "ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life" — life in all its blessedness at the end of the journey. The broad road pleases the many; but as to the narrow, "few there be that find it." So we ought not to be surprised at the unpopularity of the narrow path of faith and obedience.

I have no doubt that Peter's reference to the deluge (1 Peter 3:20) was given as an encouragement to the Jews scattered abroad, only a few of whom confessed Christ. So in Noah's day, whilst the ark was preparing, there were, he says, "few, that is, eight souls, saved" out of the vast population living on the earth at that time; for we must remember that man's life then was but little short of a thousand years. So it ought not to discourage those to whom Peter was writing, if so few accepted Christ as the Messiah. The Lord Himself, for us, is the Way. It does not matter whether it is a religious world or an irreligious one; there is, as has often been said, not only the dirty side, but the clean side of the "broad" way; and this is the "way" that causes no exercise. On the contrary, the "narrow" way is that which calls for exercise of conscience, so, as ever, to please God. As Paul could say,"Herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men;" and he was thought narrow and bigoted in consequence. False teachers would affirm the path to be not so narrow as scripture lays down. The character of the false prophets in Ezekiel 13 was their making it very easy for people to go along: for they prophesied out of their own heart. The serious thing was that they followed their own spirit and heeded not the words of God.

There should be a "But" before ver. 15. Of course, we now, as christians, are in a different position to these disciples. They were to know the false prophets by their fruits, but we have the Holy Spirit and the written word whereby to "try the spirits whether they be of God." The two great tests are, the person of Christ, and the word of God. If you find anything derogatory to the person of Christ you may be sure that it is not of God, for the Holy Ghost is here to glorify Christ. Sheep's clothing is what is suitable to a sheep; but these false men have a fair exterior, but by their fruits ye shall know (or, recognise) them. This is all very searching, and shows thoroughly how these false prophets had not divine life in their souls. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." If we take this as a figure of men, "there is none good"; "there is none that does good, no not one"; so, if there is any good, it can only be from a new, a divine, nature. Thorns cannot produce grapes, nor thistles figs, and those who do not produce good fruit have only one end, and that is the fire for "every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." It is all connected.

Ver. 21 shows us that these were evidently self-deceived. It was quite right to Call Him "Lord" as He says of His disciples in John 13, "Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am." Yes, He was, and is, the Lord; and all through this portion He speaks with authority, not only as the great Teacher, but also as the Judge. Every one of the human race shall have to do with Him. In the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But here, in Matthew, it is of those who make profession and call Him Lord by lip only. Scripture plainly reveals that profession alone will not suffice; there must be much more than profession. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord," and this is practical holiness. "The grace of God that brings salvation" teaches us (and you cannot divorce the doctrine from the grace) "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." There is the danger of making everything of the profession. I think there is often a mistake in dealing with souls as to this. It is thought to be the great thing to get people to say 'I believe.' You should get them to believe, and, to this end, present Christ. But there must be subjection to Him, to His will, to His word. It is true that we who are the Lord's are "elect, according to foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." That is, we are set apart by the Spirit, the very first moment He begins to work in us, not only to the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, but also to the obedience of Christ.

Ver. 22. The Lord does not deny that they had prophesied. It was possible for a wicked man to do so. Balaam prophesied magnificent prophecies, but he perished with the enemies of the Lord. Caiaphas also prophesied. It is possible to understand all mysteries, and yet not be saved. It is well for us to take notice of what is said here, "In Thy Name have cast out demons." A man may be a wonderful preacher, and used of God to the conversion of souls, but yet have not life in his own soul! Paul says, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." He is referring to the Grecian games. He does not mean that he feared his being reprobate, for he ran, not as uncertainly, nor did he beat the air, but that if keeping under of the body did not go along with his service, it would but prove him a counterfeit. It was the apostle's way, when enforcing the unpalatable rather than the pleasant, to apply the former to himself as illustration. But where it was matter of what was pleasant, he loved to bring in others by way of example. "In Thy Name done many wonderful works." All this might be true. A man might indeed be used to turn a lot of drunkards into respectable citizens, and yet, sad to say, be lost! "I never knew you." But the Lord does know them that are His (2 Tim. 2:19). There is no such thing as a child of God being "lost." "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand," is what the Lord Himself has said. How emphatic! Yet one may be a mere professor, able to speak of wonderful deeds he has done, and yet have no love to Christ!

That was the difference between Judas and Peter. Peter's was an awful fall, but he did love the Lord, and had faith in Him, which Judas never had; though I have no doubt the Iscariot participated in the powers conferred on the apostles, being one of them. Another scripture says "We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets" (Luke 13). We may suppose a regular attendance at the preaching, or a partaking of the sacrament so called — a resting on these privileges, yet with no real link between the soul and God, no divine life and indwelling of the Holy Spirit! There is no such thing as a simple believer saying, 'Lord, I was resting exclusively on the value of Thy precious blood,' and the Lord saying to such an one, "I never knew you." Think of the solemn words, "Depart from me" to be shut out from all blessings! if you have not Christ. As 2 Tim. 2:19, there is not only God's knowledge of His own, but also our responsibility. I mean the responsibility of those that are saved. I do not for a moment believe in what some teach, that God has done His part and I must do mine. No; we cannot mix up our works with God's plans. Christ's' finished work alone gives us a standing before God.

Coming back, then, to our chapter, there is the good tree and good fruit. A true profession, and working iniquity cannot go together. It is not what we give up, or do, or bring. Every false religion says, "Something in my hands I bring." I am a receiver; and after conversion, I am only elevated by my wants, for they lead me to God.

The Lord is showing, from ver. 24 and onwards, that the great thing is to have the right foundation, that which will bear all testing. It is true that it is not enough to hear, it is "Whosoever hears these sayings of mine and does them." In Luke, it is, "Whosoever comes to me," etc. The coming would speak of faith. You get this in Hebrews, "He that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek, him." It would go to show that if there is merely hearing and not doing, the root of the matter is not there. In the case of Simon Magus, he heard and he believed when he saw, and yet he had no part nor lot in the matter; there was no faith in him. Hearing, with the doing also, supposes reality; and nothing but reality will do for God. Here it is evidently reality in contrast with mere profession.

Ver. 25. It stood all the testing, and where there is reality
"We to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given
More happy, but not more secure,
The spirits departed to heaven."

Ver. 26. If one does not hear you cannot speak of building at all. Hearing brings responsibility with it; here it is, "and does them not." John 13 says "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." We shall not be rewarded for merely knowing (though it is a blessed thing to be "filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding"), but for doing. "Happy are ye if ye do them."

The rock is in contrast with the sand. The apostle Paul writes "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." There is the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but that is their testimony in connection with Him, but He is the corner stone and holds all together; and He is also the head stone, the place of exaltation (ver. 27). We ought not to be satisfied to be uncertain about this matter: the building is for eternity. I suppose this verse contemplates profession without even the desire to do His will. "If any man desire to do His will he shall know of the doctrine." There is a great deal of comfort in that. Many say, I want to do it who would not like to say, I do it (vers. 28 and 29). There is the difference between the Lord and the highest apostle or the greatest prophet. They say "Thus saith the Lord." He never did. He is the Lord"I say unto you." He is the One with whom all have to do. He taught them as one having authority. In Mark 16 we find "they believed not" them, and this again and again. But after that the Lord had spoken to them, the disciples went forth and preached everywhere. His word had effect, for He speaks with authority.

Matthew 8:1-17.

1918 38 You do not, as a rule, find chronological arrangement in this Gospel; that is not the design of the Spirit. Events are grouped rather dispensationally in Matthew, whilst in Luke they are given us morally. In chaps. 5, 6, 7, we have had the King revealing to us the principles of His kingdom, though these chapters suppose also His rejection. But principles alone are not sufficient; you want also the right man. Here we have One who can do everything; One with infinite compassion; One who can heal diseases, forgive sins, control the elements; One who is almighty. So in chaps. 8, 9, you find the right Person as well as the right principles. The leper shows what Israel was nationally. Leprosy is a remarkable figure of sin in the flesh in its polluting character. The condition described in Isaiah 1 is often looked at in a wrong way. That condition was the result of God's chastisement, as ver. 5 shows — "Why should ye be stricken any more?" They had been so beaten in God's governmental dealings that that had become their condition when Isaiah wrote, though of course it was their sins which necessitated the chastisement.

The Old Testament shows us that the leper had to be put outside the camp, he was not fit to be numbered with the redeemed people. He was like a sinner unfit for the presence of a holy, sin-hating God.

God required that those gathered around Him should be holy. It is well for us to remember how that came in. There was no restriction to Aaron going in at all times, till the fire came out and consumed the sacrifice. Then Nadab and Abihu took strange fire, and God resented it. Fire again came out and consumed them. Probably they were intoxicated, at any rate they were not rightly concerned with what was due to God, as Christendom is unconcerned about it now. Then it was that God said, "I will be sanctified in them that come near me." There can be no toleration of evil. Then also God gave instruction concerning putting a difference between holy and unholy, and prohibited Aaron from going in except on one day in the year, the tenth day of the seventh month, the day of atonement. Following this we have the details of their instruction for putting a difference between clean and unclean, and then God deals with the leper in Lev. 13, 14. And I have no doubt, in ourselves we are all lepers. But it may be well to go over the details of the cleansing, they are full of beautiful typical teaching.

First, he is brought to the priest and outside the camp. The only ground where God can meet the sinner is where Christ suffered. And it is an unnamed one who brings him to the priest. There must be the unseen action of the Holy Ghost in the soul. He takes two sparrows, alive and clean, to typify the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" I suppose their use here shows us that the one who knows and apprehends most the value of the work of Christ is sensible of how feeble is his thought of what the cross really is. It is what that sacrifice is to God, and not our thought of it, that gives its efficacy. One of the sparrows is killed in an earthen vessel over running water. The sparrow belongs to the firmament of heaven; and this tells us of the One Who came from heaven, and became flesh that He might die. We see here the truth of 1 Cor. 15, that Christ "died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Then the priest takes a piece of cedar wood and also hyssop. Now the Spirit tells us that Solomon wrote of all things from the highest to the lowest, "from the cedar tree … even unto the hyssop that springs out of the wall." These then are taken, and also scarlet wool, and dipped, with the live bird in the blood of the slain bird, and then that blood is sprinkled on the leper, thus showing identification. The priest then pronounces him clean. The leper has not to judge himself clean, nor have we. He sees it all accomplished for him, and he is the recipient of it. Then the live bird is, let loose into the open heaven, type of the Lord Jesus raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The man in our chapter seems to have believed in the Lord's ability, but not in His love. Some would rather view it as that he realised the Lord's sovereignty, and makes it a matter of that; but whichever way you take it, you get the opposite in the case of the man who brought his lunatic son when the Lord came down from the mount of transfiguration. The demon cannot be cast out until the Lord comes down. The disciples had failed, and the father says, "If thou canst do anything." The Lord says, the "If" is, "If thou canst believe." There is the contrast between "If thou wilt" and "If thou canst." In Luke 18. we are told "With God all things are possible"; here, by faith using Him all things are possible to him that believeth.

Again, the Lord touches the leper. A living Christ on earth is for the Jews, a risen Christ in heaven for the church — for us now. If the Lord touches, it is a touch of power. If a needy sinner touches, it is a touch of faith. When in the next chapter the multitude thronged Him there was no sense of need on the part of the multitude; and the Lord enquires "Who touched me?" The Lord responds to faith and to owned need; and both are here.

The Lord would not have it told to anyone, for He shunned popularity. When they come to make Him a king (John 6), He would not have it. The poor people followed the Lord; you do not find the priests following Him, but the Lord will have testimony borne to them. This was the time when the leper should go to the priest — the day of his cleansing. This brings out the Lord's sovereignty in blessing. He spake and it was done. He upholds everything by the word of His power. And He says, "I will, be thou clean!"

Was there ever a king like this? He is going to forgive all their iniquities and to heal all their diseases by and by. So ver. 4 refers to what we had in Lev. 14. Had any other touched a leper, he would have contracted defilement by the contact. But He was undefilable. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." His was the touch of power; and the disease is gone. What a testimony that Jehovah Himself was here, for none but He could heal the leper. In 2 Kings 5:7 the affrighted king owns that it required the God of resurrection to effect the cure of leprosy. Still when a leper was covered all over, and the leprosy was all out, then could the man be pronounced clean. So also with a sinner. "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Ps. 32).

Before that instruction was given when Moses was told to put his hand into his bosom (that is where the leprosy is) it was leprous when he took it out but when he puts it in a second time it is healed. In Num. 12. Miriam is smitten with leprosy for speaking against Moses and the Ethiopian woman he had married, no doubt Zipporah. If we take up the cudgels in our own defence the Lord may withhold His hand and leave us to our own efforts; but if we leave our case with Him, He will see to it. Moses was "very meek." … "And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam"… "And, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow." This was God's solemn government. They see their folly and make confession; but the Lord would make them feel it, and Miriam is shut out seven days. All this goes to show God's holiness, and what is due to Him, as it says in Heb. 12. "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire." It is God in His own nature as the Holy One.

This Gospel of Matthew was written for the Jews, and nothing is given therein to puff them up. So in the next incident (8:5-13) we have no elders of the Jews mentioned as in Luke 7:3. The beloved physician, writing to Gentiles, appropriately gives us in his Gospel the honoured place of the Jews as God's people, for at that time the middle wall of partition was not yet broken down. In both these cases — of the leper, and the centurion — there is faith. In the first, it is personal faith, but in the case of the centurion it is the faith of one person for another. If leprosy represents sin in its polluting character, palsy shows man in his helplessness. It is a great point for a sinner to make that discovery. It is more to acknowledge I am helpless than that I am a sinner. To the Gentile centurion the Lord says, "I will come and heal him." In the case of the nobleman in John 4. He says, "Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe," and in spite of his reiterated request that the Lord would come down Jesus did not go, although he healed his son. No doubt he belonged to Herod's court. As the leper in the beginning of our chapter is the only one specifically mentioned in the three Synoptic Gospels some think he was "Simon the leper" (Matt. 26:6; Mark 14:3) in whose house at Bethany "they made him a supper" (John 12. i8).

The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed." I suppose he had a good dwelling, he seemed to be pretty wealthy; but there was the sense of his unworthiness, and of the Saviour's dignity. He recognised that here was an omnipotent One, and that no word of His could be void of power. He says, "I am a man" — not in but — under authority." A Roman captain over 200 men, he was a long way from being the head of the Imperial army; but even so he had this power to order the soldiers under him. There is something very sweet about that. His argument is that the Lord had all the authority in Himself. He had a glimpse of the Lord's glory such as Nebuchadnezzar had, when he said, "He does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35). This is a sample of what is to be. The blessing in the millennial earth will not be confined to Israel; Gentiles will be blessed too, though not as now with the middle wall of partition broken down. Then they will be blessed through Israel. But the Lord here had not found so great faith in Israel. Faith is the gift of God, but where it is found the Lord commends it. The Syro-phoenician woman's faith is called "great"; the disciples' "little." The only two cases of faith which the Lord commends are Gentiles! There are only two, also, to whom the Lord gives Himself away, so to speak the woman of Samaria and the blind man of John 9.

Now the Lord goes on to show (vers. 2 , 12) "that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness, etc." Of course the children of the kingdom were the Jews, and those cast out will be the unbelieving portion of them. When that kingdom comes, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be in their glorified bodies, and in the heavenly department of it, though not forming the Bride. They will be included in the symbolic number of the twenty-four elders of the Revelation, and in "the spirits of just men made perfect," i.e., Old Testament saints. In Rev. 19 you have the marriage, but there are those "called to the supper," as well as the Bride. The Old Testament saints will have their joy in it, though they will not have her place and portion.

The leper represents Israel in their condition of uncleanness, and the Lord coming in grace and displaying His power, a witness that Jehovah was there; and in the next case, that of the centurion's servant, grace goes out to the Gentile. But if grace does go out to them, the Lord's heart is still towards Israel. Peter was the apostle of the circumcision. No doubt this is a dispensational picture, but there are other lessons too. We have had man in his polluted condition, and we have had man in his helpless condition, and now we have man in his ungovernable passions the fever. Idolatry is looked at as adultery in the Old Testament, and those who go after idols are spoken of as inflaming themselves. So here we have One who can deal with that which is ungovernable. We also see that while the fire of sinful passions is flaming you are unfit for service. The fever had to be subdued before she served. In one Gospel, she arose and ministered to Him. We are set at liberty to serve both the Lord and those who are precious to Him. Of course, we were noticing the difference between the Lord's touch and the sinner's. The Lord touched the leper, but not the centurion's servant, and He touched Peter's wife's mother. You get a measure of faith in the leper and great faith in the centurion; here there is no appeal, but there is need. The Lord always responds to faith and need.

That next paragraph (vers. 16, 17) is very important. You see the Lord Jesus, in every case He took up, felt it in His own spirit. Of course, He was Jehovah, Who could and did forgive their iniquities and heal their diseases. To human eyes the great thing is to cure the body; we know the greatest thing is to meet the need of the soul. Plenty of men will profess to absolve sinners, but they cannot save one who is down with a fatal malady. The Lord takes that up in a later case, when He asks whether it is easier to say Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say Arise and walk. "But that ye may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins he saith to the sick of the palsy, Take up thy bed and go unto thy house." In Him was omnipotent power, for in Him dwelt all the fulness of the God bodily; but He never wrought mere works of power. He felt it all deeply in Himself. In Mark you get this specially.

So "When even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick." In many of the cases when the even is mentioned, it is the close of the Sabbath, though the Lord would heal, if need be, on the Sabbath day; but one could not say certainly that it was so here. But the great thing in the first case in this chapter is His sovereignty; in the second His word, so here "He cast out the spirits with his word, and he healed all that were sick"; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet saying, "Himself took our infirmities, and bear our sicknesses." I do not think we should have interpreted that verse so if the Spirit had not interpreted it for us; He took it all on His spirit.

Matthew 8:18-34

1918 54 In the next case we get a wonderful picture. It discovers to us that it is not an easy path to follow a rejected Christ. "Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side" (ver. 18). I dare say, as far as the dispensational picture is concerned, it is the Lord leaving the earthly people and revealing that the walk of faith is not an acceptable path to flesh and blood.

"And a certain scribe came and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest" (ver. 19). Here is a man who elects to follow Him. Many there are who do so. It is a fearful thing to tell an unsaved soul to follow Jesus. For he is dead in sins, and needs life and righteousness. If he has these, then his duty is to follow His steps. The Lord knew the heart of this man, and that he was after present advantage. So He says, "The foxes. have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has not where to lay his head." Foxes and birds are His creatures, and mischievous creatures too.

This is the first time the Lord uses this name "Son of man," in the N.T. When love proffered its welcome, He accepted that which was done for His comfort; for instance, as, when Martha received Him into her house. Where this incident comes out historically, we find it was when He passed through Samaria, and the Samaritans would not receive Him, which made James and John so indignant that they wanted to call fire down from heaven to consume them. Then it was He used these words. Here then the man is exposed, and we hear nothing more of him.

In the next verse, the Lord shows that He will not have a divided heart. It may be this man thought "I have been a dutiful son, and I would like to do all I can for my father till he is gone; then I shall be at liberty." But the Lord's claims are paramount. When it is a case of the Master's claims and those of nature, the Lord must have the first place. He says, "Follow me." A disciple is a follower. "Let the dead," i.e., those who are "dead in trespasses and sins" "bury their own dead" — those who died naturally. Now here is the connecting link. First of all, it is a mistake to think of personal advantage; secondly, the Lord must have an undivided heart; thirdly, "his disciples followed him." There is a play here on the word "follow."

If they had gone on with the multitude they would not have had the storm. Their following Him led them, into the storm. "And behold" — the Holy Ghost says. Now you mark the result — "there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves; but he was asleep" (ver. 24). We never see in what is recorded of our blessed Lord a single case of fear of any of His creatures. How could it be? He was the dependent Man, always confident in Jehovah; so in the storm we see Him at perfect rest — there was no fear there, and if they had had a right appreciation of His Person, the disciples would have had no fears either, for fears in that case are groundless.

It is sufficiently clear that this storm came as sent by the devil, for the Lord rebuked it. Satan is called "the prince of the power of the air," and in the book of job we see how he used this power. Following Jesus involves much tribulation. "His disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord save us; we perish" (ver. 25). Now, was it a blessing for them to be in this storm? The word in Rom. 5 says, "We boast in hope of the glory of God." I suppose we all know that the words "boast," "glory," and "rejoice," may be but a translation of one and the same word of the original. "And not only so but we boast in tribulations also"; they are no loss to us. Why? "Knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience" — experience of what I am, but also experience of what the Lord is for me. They experienced what cowards they were, but they also learnt something of what He was. If I am a child of God and self-willed, the Father's chastening comes upon me, and this for my profit. I could not boast in that if the Lord is chastening me. "No chastening for the present seems to be joyous but grievous." But if I am following Jesus, how different! I can "glory in tribulation," in that which comes upon me for His name's sake. To "suffer for His sake" is a gift (Phil. 1:29). Faith is the gift of God, and so is suffering for Christ. Every true child of God suffers with Christ, but not every one suffers for Him.

First then, He speaks to them, and shows them how unworthy of them to be so perturbed. "Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." Was there ever a king like this, with power to control all the elements? The winds and the sea obey Him. It was a blessed experience for them. In our deep trials we prove what the Lord is for us.

Who would "the men" be of ver. 27? It looks as if there were men there in special charge of the ship. It is quite different in chap. 14:33 there the effect was that "they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God."

All that we have been looking at up to now, is connected with His Galilean ministry. It is in chap. 12 that He is rejected by the religious leaders of Jerusalem.

"When He was come to the other side" (ver. 28). They get there, you see, in spite of the tempest. In the other Gospels you get one man possessed with demons. Here you have two. Constantly in Luke you get two, and frequently also in Matthew, but for quite a different reason. Matthew gives us "two or three witnesses" as affording adequate testimony. But in Luke it is always by way of contrast: "two sons," elder and younger; "two debtors," they are contrasted; "two men" go into the temple to pray; "two thieves," and they are contrasted, but only so in Luke's Gospel. I take it that in this case as given in Mark 5, where we have only one mentioned, it is the more striking of the two men, and so more details are there given. In type you have the last condition of Israel here. These demoniacs mercifully delivered, and so in a future day there will be a remnant saved; but in the swine you get the great unclean mass of the nation. God will reserve some to Himself. In Israel you constantly get a remnant. In Elijah's time He had seven thousand which had not bowed the knee to Baal, The mass will receive the antichrist, and there will be worse idolatries than ever before. Here is One Who can not only heal diseases, forgive sins, control elements, but Who casts the demons out. This He will do, and so Satan shall be cast into the prison house for a thousand years, and then for all eternity into "the lake of fire."

We can see the malignant, as well as the deceptive, power of the devil. We christians ought to be more on our guard against his deceptions, and not be ignorant of his devices, as so many of us seem to be. There are individuals in whom you see his malignant power. You get the world pictured as a great hospital in John 5. In another sense it is a scene of tombs, sin and death go together. So here these two have their dwellings in the tombs. Thank God we have not. We have been delivered. God is conducting many sons through the wilderness on to glory.

This malignant power of Satan is beyond the power of man to subdue. One of these had been often bound with fetters and chains, but "neither could any man tame him." All Acts of Parliament, and all the societies of men will be unsuccessful to tame him. Only One can. "The demons believe and shudder." Alas, that this is more than we can say of man in his hardness! Man's believing does not make it true, nor does his unbelief make it false. "The demons believe." "What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God?" "Jesus" ought not to be there, according to the best text. There is no Saviour for demons. "He takes not hold of angels" (Heb. 2:16). A perfect man, and perfectly a man, He passed the angels by. The fallen angels fell without a tempter; man fell by a tempter; and God will judge that tempter. "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" The time will come. The devil has access to heaven now, but he will be cast out of heaven and his angels too. The Lord was looking on to Rev. 12, when He said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." After the church is taken home

the devil will be cast out, and then ultimately put in the prison house. For a thousand years man will not have a tempter. Yet after all, though they have seen the contrast between the Lord's reign and Satan's sway, at the close of the millennium the great mass of the human race will fall by Satan's deception of the nations, as easily as Adam fell. It only shows that there is nothing stable but a real work of grace in the soul.

We were seeing that this wonderful King could heal all His people's diseases and forgive their sins. Psalm 103 is a millennial Psalm. People read it and get comfort from it now, but it is the language of those under the new covenant. There is no covenant made with the church, but we have the "blood" of that new covenant by which is given us blessing even more than will be when the new covenant is established with both houses of Israel. But there is something more than sin and disease — there is the one who brought sin into the world. Here is One who can deal with him. "Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness."

Things will never be right here till the devil is chained. How could you have a millennium with the devil here? He will be put into the prison house then — not the final place of torment, but into "the bottomless pit." It needs the personal presence of the Son of God to accomplish that. You get Satanic power shown in two ways here. There is his open, manifest, malignant power in some individuals; whilst others may be very polite. Those who asked the Lord to depart out of their coasts were under Satan's power as well as were the demoniacs. We have more to dread his wiles than his malignant persecuting power. But these two "were exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." Satan's power is superhuman, and he can use those under his power to do mischief in a variety of ways. Where we get more particulars we are told, "Neither could any man tame him." No matter what schemes men may make, they cannot alter man's nature. The Lord Jesus is the only One Who can do this.

You never find a demon confessing to Him as Jesus. There is a scripture which says, "No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost." Read with its context it shows that there is the ministry of the Holy Ghost and a ministry of demons. And so then, arises the test — which was which? Anything that would put a spot on Him, take away from His glory or from His work — that is of the devil. The youngest believer is responsible to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. The First Epistle of John brings out the second test of truth, the written word of God. "He that is of God hears us," that is, the apostles. Perhaps all had passed away except John, but it is the company of the apostles and prophets who had given them the word of God, which now we have complete in written form.

The demons say, "What have we to do with thee, Son of God? Art thou come to torment us before the time?" "The demons also believe and tremble." They own Him Son of God, for to Him every knee must bow, and every tongue confess. Yet is there no Redeemer of angels. Their case has not been taken up for redemption. The tempter is always worse in God's sight than the tempted. So God interferes in His grace to rescue man, but "of angels He takes not hold" (Heb. 2:16), i.e., fallen angels. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage." He became the Deliverer by becoming man, and then all that He is as a divine Person enters into all that He did, and gives it divine efficacy. The demons believe there is one God — they believe what is revealed in God's word. Satan may quote and pervert it to his purpose. Demons know their doom. The very first gospel announcement declares it, where it is said of the Seed of the woman, "It shall bruise thy head" (Gen. 3:15). Hence you find Satan's animosity in the O.T. against anyone who is even a type of the Lord Jesus. Satan gets man to believe that God does not mean what He says, and that there is no such thing as "eternal judgment." If man did not discern who the Lord was, the demons could say, "We know thee who thou art."

The Lord did not annul the devil at the temptation, but He spoiled his goods, and thereafter cast the demons out. He annulled him at the cross. Satan is in the heavenlies now, but he will be cast into the earth, and then, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!" Then later he will be cast into the abyss. When loosed out of his prison, the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth shall be gathered by him to encompass in battle the camp of the saints, and the beloved city Jerusalem; but fire comes down and destroys the nations, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire, to be tormented for ever and ever. Not all angels have fallen. There are the holy and elect angels. No creature can stand unless kept. All the human race have fallen in Adam their federal head (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22).

We know that demons are in the heavenly places because the word of God says "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). The Lord Jesus said to His disciples when they told Him the demons were subject unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." He was looking forward to the time of Rev. 12:9. Satan is not in paradise, the third heaven. We get light from 2 Cor. 12 as to what paradise is. It is the immediate presence of God, the highest place of blessing, and that is where the poor thief went! Satan has access to accuse the saints. We see his access in Job 1, 2. And he accuses "day and night" (Rev. 12:10). It is after the rapture of the saints to heaven that he is cast out. I take it to be the middle of Daniel's seventieth week, and the last half of that week is the time of "the great tribulation."

Mary Magdalene was conscious of what the Lord had done for her in casting out seven demons! "She ministered unto Him." In Luke 7 we find a nameless woman, and it is wonderful grace that keeps her name secret. But people jump to conclusions and so identify Mary with her; but not so. There is nothing to show that Mary's past had been impure.

If we take the whole universe there is not a single thing, however small, left to chance. Nothing can happen without God's commission or permission. He either permits it, or it is according to His will. God permitted man to fall. If you could take all the mystery out of the Bible you might have proof that it was not of divine origin. The wisest amongst us would own that he has but touched the fathomless depths of the word of God.

The only thing the devil can do is to take man downwards. The swine rushed down. Until a man is converted, every step from his birth has been downward and hellward. We only begin to go upward when we know Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. He gave permission to the demons to enter the swine. When the Lord wanted to show that sin is not only degrading but defiling, he gave a picture of a Jew tending swine. There are many things in Scripture to show that demons have a longing to inhabit something, man or beast. This shows us an object lesson — the devil is a destroyer. While they know indeed that they are fallen, and know there is punishment for them, we must not think they will have any sway at all when that punishment falls. The most abject of all will be the devil himself. Now is his reigning day. But when the day of punishment comes, at which they tremble now, for they know nothing can stop it, the heaviest punishment will be theirs. They are bent on mischief. Many a man is deluded by them to think he puts an end to his existence by committing suicide, and finds it but a lie of Satan, when it is too late.

Ver. 34. — What comes out here shows that man values his temporal possessions more than the presence of the One Who could cast out demons. They would rather have the devil and the demons, and their possessions, than Christ. They begged Him to go, and He took them at their word. But it would appear, from Mark, that the preaching of the man had effect, as there were some prepared to receive Him afterwards. He tells what Jesus had done, and how He had had compassion on him.

Matthew 9:1-17

1918 71 Capernaum is called His own city because, though the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem and brought up in Nazareth, He had made His home there. Thus was Capernaum "exalted to heaven."

We have had sin before us in its polluting character, now we have man in his helplessness. "And behold!" The Holy Spirit in effect says "Now mark!" The man could not come himself, he was dependent on others to bring him. In Mark we are told he was borne of four. "When he saw their faith" his, as well as theirs who brought him. He always responds to faith. There is an utterly helpless man laid before Him. Why did the Lord say, "Thy sins be forgiven thee"? They had brought him to Jesus that He should effect a physical cure. This He did, and much more. Could we suppose the Lord would say "Thy sins be forgiven" to one not troubled about them? He knew the man's heart, others saw his helplessness. The Lord shows He not only knew what was going on in him, but also He knew their thoughts; He is the Omniscient One. The scribes say, "This man blasphemeth." They were the blasphemers really, blind to the true glory of the One Who was there.

It is easy for a man to say "Thy sins be forgiven thee"; a wicked man can say it, but where is the proof of his authority for so saying? When they accused Him of blasphemy, He who searches the heart says, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?" That is the point. If one can give the man power to walk, He must be God, and have power to forgive sins also. "But that ye may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins," etc. He is never addressed as "Son of man," but the Lord constantly uses the title Himself. It is not so limited as Messiah, and it is on His rejection as Messiah that it is brought out. It is Messiah in Ps. 2, Son of man in Ps. 8, but, the same Person. There is nothing saving in merely knowing scripture, or committing it to memory, though excellent in its way; for without faith in Christ as a divine Person it will not avail for your soul. "Whom say ye that I am?" "The Christ, the Son of the living God!" This knowledge was divinely communicated to Peter by an act of grace; as says the Lord, "Blessed art thou" … "for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (16)."

"But when the multitudes saw it, they were afraid (R.V.) and glorified God, which had given such power unto men" (ver. 8). This was not really God-honouring, or honouring to the Lord. They were blind to the true glory of the Lord, as much as were the religious leaders. It should read here, "they were afraid" not "they marvelled" as in our A.V.

We were seeing that in this Gospel we do not get things so much in order of time. In each of the Gospels we get a selection — a small selection of events, but it is a divine selection and a divine arrangement. In Matthew this is dispensational.

In these two chapters, 8, 9, we get this wonderful cluster of miracles to prove that He who gave the principles of chaps. 5–7, is able to do everything which it is the object of the Spirit to give us in this wonderful group.

It is very lovely to see how the incident which follows (vers. 9-13) is given by Matthew. He seeks to hide himself. It is only in this Gospel that Matthew the writer, when giving the list of the apostles, calls himself there "the publican" or tax-gatherer — an opprobrious name. Thus he humbles himself whilst here he hides himself, for you would not know, from what Matthew tells us, that it was in his house. For this we are indebted to Luke, who beautifully tells us that "Levi (i.e. Matthew) made Him a great feast in his house (chap. 5).

It is one thing for a person to elect to follow the Lord, and quite another for the Lord to call one to follow Him. In a previous chapter, a certain man said he would follow, and the Lord lets him know that such a course demands sacrifice, for nature has its attractions. We do not know the thoughts of the heart, the Lord does. When those polite enough to beseech Him to depart, did so, He went. Well, Matthew was ready at once to abandon his position and follow Jesus. That indeed delighted the Lord. He does not want divided hearts. He wants all our heart. The response of Matthew brings this out. He was ready to follow the Lord, and it was given to Luke to disclose to us that this Levi made for the Lord a feast, yea, a "great" feast.

The word "Behold" introduces something significant in these narratives. What the Spirit attracts our attention to here is that many publicans and sinners came and reclined with Jesus and His disciples. We are not told they were invited. Publicans and sinners are often classed together — the tax-gatherers who farmed the Roman taxes, and the sinners. Tax-gatherers are generally disliked, and with a corrupt government the dislike was inveterate. Matthew was not the only one blessed, there was Zaccheus also, and there were others not mentioned by name.

"And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eats your master with publicans and sinners?" (ver. 11). These religious men looked down with contempt on publicans and sinners. In the Gospel of Luke we see that publicans were permitted to go into the temple, but the Pharisee looked at himself as on a higher pedestal.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to the disciples what was really a charge against the Lord "Why eats your master," etc. And when Jesus heard, He said unto them, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." There you have two classes; those who trusted they were righteous did not realise their need of the physician, though really needing Him as much as any. It is a dangerous thing to attack the Lord's disciples. The Lord uses scripture more against the adversaries than against the disciples in ver. 13. "I am not come to call the righteous but sinners." This was the business of the Lord here. He came on behalf of poor sinners — "to seek and to save the lost." He is the One who wills, who shows mercy. If a soul is saved and blest, it is because God has had mercy. We all belong to one common lump, and those saved are vessels of mercy afore-prepared unto glory; while in the case of the lost, He endures "with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" — fitted not by God, but fitted by themselves to destruction.

They were complaining of the Lord having to do with publicans and sinners, and He lets them know that such were the objects of His coming. "To repentance" is not properly here and should be left out. It is given in the parallel passage in Luke. Repentance is, as is faith, the gift of God, "Then has God also to the Gentiles, granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18).

"I will have mercy." It is very beautiful. He retreated into Himself when Israel forfeited everything. They did not appreciate the grace that had dealt with them, for it is all grace, sovereign grace, up to the end of Ex. 18. Law came in by the way, and the people showed they did not value the grace, by their taking the ground of conditional blessing, and so they forfeited everything. God could not have gone on with them if He had not retreated into Himself. You get the book of Exodus divided into three parts — first, pure grace; then, pure law; and lastly, a mixture of law and grace. What follows now takes up the attempt to mix up grace and law. That is just what is pleasing to the natural man. How little is it seen that we are "not under law," though "legitimately subject (ennomos) to Christ." Law demanded what man could never give, and cursed him for not giving it. Grace gives us power to keep the law and blesses us for doing it. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8). Patchwork and broken bottles will not do for God, if they do for man.

We never read of the Lord fasting except during the forty days before His ministry. Fasting is all right in its place, but in the presence of the bridegroom it is out of place. The disciples here represented the children of the bride chamber. The bridegroom was a familiar figure in the O.T. Take for instance, the Book of Canticles. We have to distinguish between the bride of Christ, and Israel. Jerusalem is looked upon as the bride, and the cities of Judah as her companions. But the bride of Christ is composed of all saints between Pentecost and the rapture of the saints to meet the Lord in the air. We are in the position now of being "sorrowful but always rejoicing." For here there is so much to make us sorrowful — the condition of the Lord's people and of the world: and, if we but look at ourselves, how little do we respond to His wondrous grace!

Some people speak of practical truth, but every bit of truth ought to have its due effect upon us. God was not on speaking terms with Lot. He is never called the God of Lot, though Lot was just, and vexed his righteous soul. But with Abraham God did not hide from him what He was about to do, He told him His bosom secrets. There we have a picture of what effect dispensational truth should have on us. It made Abraham an intercessor.

New cloth is what grace is bringing in now. It is not to be used to patch up the old. That is what men seek to do; it is an awful mistake. They mix up Judaism and Christianity. What the Lord was bringing in was not suitable to the old forms at all. Truth must have its own proper form. Then both are preserved.

Matthew 9:18-38

1918 86 "While he was speaking these things to them, behold, a certain ruler came and worshipped him." Or, "behold, a ruler came in and worshipped him" (ver. 18). This would seem exceptional. For we know that on one occasion, to the officers who had been sent to apprehend the Lord, and who had been too struck with the power of His words to do so, the scribes and Pharisees said, "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers, and of the Pharisees believed on him?" (John 7:45-48) But here was one who had heard of Jesus, and who said, "My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." From Luke we learn that she was his only daughter. We get the word "only" three times in Luke — "only" son (Luke 7:12), "only" daughter (Luke 8:42), "only" child, or begotten (Luke 9:38).

It was quite in keeping with the Jewish character to desire the Lord's presence, and His hand upon her. A living Christ on earth is for the Jews. Jairus seems to have had the faith of Abraham — that faith in God Who raises the dead. You do not get much detail here, but the Lord responds, by rising and following him, and is on His way when He is interrupted. This is not an exceptional thing; and you often get interruptions in Matthew.

In the next chapter the gospel of the kingdom is sent out, and they are told, "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." But the testimony was interrupted by the rejection of Christ, and the cities will have to be inhabited again for that testimony to go on. Again, at the end of chap. 12. the Jewish testimony is set aside, and the whole of chap. 13 is taken up with what the Lord is doing now. But He breaks faith with nobody. If He could break His word with Israel, what have we got to trust in?

The Holy Spirit directs our special attention to the fact that, while He is on His way to raise the dead Jewess, "Behold, a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment, for she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment I shall be whole" (vers. 20, 21). Another Gospel says, "she had heard of Jesus." She had heard enough to lead her to the conclusion that could she but touch Him she would get the blessing, and this after "she had spent all," While she had a halfpenny she kept away. But I think there is a practical lesson for us in this, — that we do not make truth our own unless we practise it. If you have your head full of truths, and they are floating about in your brain like a lot of notions, it will do you no good. That sort of knowledge puffs up. We might be ever so orthodox, and yet know little or nothing of communion with the Lord Jesus. It is a state of soul one may well dread. We are not to be occupied with our communion. It is very blessed when one is so led along as to be oblivious or forgetful of self.

We need not go into the particulars given in the other Gospels, but we would look at it as presented here. The Lord Jesus recognized the touch of faith. He turned; and seeing her said, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith has made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour." "Daughter" was a term of endearment. Perhaps she was not conscious of her faith, but there it was, and it was right, for it was in Jesus. It is very necessary to see that her faith was in the person of Christ. Very strong faith in a wrong thing will not make the faith right nor the thing right. What gives faith its value is its object. Faith in Christ is always right. This incident is very encouraging for a poor sinner, and a great help to us in preaching the gospel.

What the Lord does is always worthy of Himself, and, like Himself, perfect. He is a divine person, and there was infinite fulness in Him to respond to all need. It was a puzzle to the disciples when He said "Who touched me?" It was such a throng that the question might rather have been, "Who did not touch me?" But this was a touch of faith and of need, and He never fails to respond to such. It is a very precious thing that we have this record, for He will never fail to respond to the faith that has to do with, and confides in, Him.

He arrives then at Jairus' house, where he finds mourners; no doubt paid mourners. "He said unto them, Give place; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn:: They would have lost their work, so to speak, if she was not dead; and their pay too would be gone. Man had introduced all that. All that was needed was, for them to give place if He was there. "Be silent, O all flesh before the Lord."

On a later occasion we find the Lord speaking of Lazarus as "sleeping." It was His way of speaking. He was going to raise Lazarus, and He was about now to raise this girl. He raised her, from her bed; the young man of Nain, from the bier; and Lazarus, from the grave. It required the same power for each case — the power of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. Unbelieving man may be ready enough to explain this away, and say it was a trance. But the case of Lazarus gives the lie to any such supposition. Jesus allows only in the chamber the father and mother of the damsel and three favoured disciples, Peter, James and John, who should be witnesses. How very awful that the minstrels and people laughed Him to scorn! They derided Him. That of itself was testimony that they thoroughly believed she was dead.

It is well indeed when enemies, in spite of themselves, become the witnesses. How very different is this case from the raising of Dorcas, or of the two children in the O.T. raised by Elijah and Elisha — each of them being a contrast to the way of the Lord! Not that He was not ever here the dependent One. Even where you have the divine side, as given in John, you have nevertheless His perfect dependence as Man. When about to raise Lazarus, He lifted up His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank thee," etc.

"But when the people were put forth, He went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose." A picture of what is going to take place in the coming day. That will be the condition of Israel when the Lord shall come to them. They will be raised out of their graves then, as in Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones — their national resurrection.

"And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land." That is very sweet, but that which is yet to be will go far beyond that land. Instead of great light, great darkness is coming first, and when the Light arises on them it will shine forth to all the world. "Arise, shine for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isa. 60). Such is the way. Things will never be right in this world till He comes whose right it is to reign, and Israel have then their place. God has not picked them up because of any superiority in them. "But, I have loved you; because I have loved you." He retreats into Himself when giving a reason for His love. Israel has rejected their Messiah, but it is impossible for them to stop the flow of love from the heart of God, and in consequence, they have been kept distinct from, and not absorbed by, other nations. "This generation shall not pass till all these things be done."

"And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying. Son of David, have mercy on us." In each of the Synoptic Gospels we find the Lord, in His last journey to Jerusalem goes through Jericho, and heals Bartimus. Israel are blind as well as dead. "Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." So this is their condition, but God will give them sight by and by. A vail is on their heart now, but when it is taken away, "In thy light we shall see light." Then they will appropriate the prophecy of Isa. 53. That will be the language of the future remnant. For though we Gentiles may get the enjoyment of it for ourselves who now believe, it is really for Israel. They are blind to the glory of the Messiah, and that blinds them to everything else.

In Peter's First Epistle, where he is writing as the apostle of the circumcision to believing Jews, he speaks of them as "brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light." That moral darkness was over the whole world. John's Gospel begins with it. "The light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." It was more gross than the natural darkness of Gen. 1. We see distinctly the "Son of David" is a Jewish title. "Son of man" has a wider glory. If rejected as Son of David in Ps. 2, He gets the wider glory of Ps. 8, everything put under His feet. Of course it will be upon the ground of mercy that Israel will be blest by and by. You get that in Rom. 9 — 11, and its consequent burst of praise in the closing verses of chap. 11.

"Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this" (ver. 28)? They want mercy from Him, and believe He has got ability to meet their need. "Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it unto you." The first one they gazed upon was their Deliverer. It is very sweet for us to think of what is in store for Israel. The Lord had His own fitting reason for telling them not to advertise it (ver. 30). But they were disobedient. Oftentimes you get a thing stated without any comment. An old writer has said of "straitly charged," that He spoke to them in thunder, but we may dismiss this as chimerical. I judge the Lord's reason was that He knew He had come to that part of His ministry wherein He was rejected as Messiah. And just after, we get the rulers attributing His wondrous works to the devil himself; they could not deny them. Just to confirm this I was thinking of chap. 16, where the Lord charges the disciples that they should tell no man He was the Christ, and from that time forth began to speak of His sufferings and death.

Israel will not always be dumb as to the praise of Messiah. They will yet sing when that day comes. "Praise waits for Thee, O God, in Zion." Many scriptures prove it. "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their king" (Ps. 149). It will be quite in its place by and by for an earthly people to have the dance and the instrumental music. But we are "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling," and God has given us no warrant for such things now that the Holy Ghost is here since Pentecost, and we have the Holy Spirit indwelling the Christian, and the church. On the contrary, where singing in the assembly is spoken of, it is, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." Do we want more?

The Pharisees said, "He casts out the demons through the prince of the demons." What an awful remark! We have it brought before us again in chap. 12. Chapters 8, 9 go together; chap. 10 has a place by itself, and then chaps. 11, 12 go together. Here we find this again.

"And Jesus went about … teaching … and preaching … and healing," etc. But when He saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion. They were harassed or troubled; the word means tired or worn out. Their condition is brought before us to show the heart of the Lord toward them, so different to that of their religious leaders. They little understood the heart of this blessed One. In the two chapters we have had before us we get a cluster of miracles showing that He had a heart toward them, but they had no heart for Him, so He anticipates in the next chapter what He tells them to pray for here. He sends out the labourers into His vineyard. We get nothing like this prayer in the Epistles; evidently it was answered here. Everything we need now is given by an ascended Christ as head of His body the church, and the Holy Spirit dividing to every man severally as He will.

Matthew 10

1918 102 But now you see we have come to the part of the Gospel where the King must have His court; so here we get the twelve apostles who will yet sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Here is the One spoken of in Isaiah 32, "Behold a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment." A little later in this Gospel when He is rejected, it is, "Behold a sower went forth to sow." Here He calls to Him the twelve disciples (ver. 1). Then in ver. 3, "The names of the twelve apostles are these." He has not only the heart and the power to do everything, but He delegates that power or authority as it pleases Him. Two words are translated "power," one meaning "authority," the other power as "force or ability." Here He gives authority "over unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." A wonderful court is this. Never was there one like it. We must not lose sight of this, that it is the King Who calls these twelve apostles. Matthew uses the word "apostles" once only, Mark once, Luke six times, and John in his Gospel, once, and that in a general way — "he that is sent" (13:16), which is the meaning of the word "apostle."

We get a list of them in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Acts. In each case Peter is first, and Judas last, except where Matthias takes his place. These little undesigned coincidences are very comforting, as showing what we believe so heartily — the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. The names are grouped in three fours; the twelve tribes are divided into four threes. Twelve is a complete number. Four plus three makes seven, the perfect number: and four times three gives us the perfect administrative number. Peter, James, John and Andrew form the first group always, and Peter is always the first, but the other three are not always in the same order. Philip is always the first Of the second four, who are always grouped together; whilst James the son of Alphaeus is always the first of the last four. Simon was not a Canaanite but a Zealot, a member of a sect of the Jews so called. We ought to take notice of these little things. It is only in this list given by Matthew, that Matthew is called the publican. Matthew and Thomas are always put together, but when Matthew writes he puts Thomas first. There are many little things in this Gospel which bring out his humility.

Another thing we may notice. They are first called twelve disciples, then twelve apostles. In the Acts, I think the word "apostles" is used about thirty times. The apostles and prophets that we are built on, are the N.T. inspired men who were used to give us the word of God. In Acts 21:16, it says, "There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple with whom we should lodge." Now, although that word "disciple" occurs so often in the early part of the N.T., this is the last occurrence of its use.

The Holy Ghost, not the church, is the One Who now sends forth. Acts 13:3 should read "they let them go." The Holy Ghost sends forth as in the next verse. He only is the vice-gerent of Christ. Now the Lord gives them their commission. "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not" (ver. 5). That at once stamps the mission with a peculiar character. They were not even to go to their neighbours, the Samaritans. There is nothing conflicting in "The labourer is Worthy of his meat" and "Freely ye have received, freely give." The apostle felt this when he laboured with his own hands, rather than receive of the carnally walking Corinthians. We are glad to know that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles now. The last chapter of Acts adds, "And they will hear it." The others had rejected it.

Ver. 9 "Provide neither gold, nor silver nor brass in your purses." That applied to that day. John commends Gaius for setting the brethren forward in a worthy way. Paul could endure hardness himself, but he was very thoughtful of his brethren. The Lord refers to this sending forth of the twelve in Luke 22, when he says, "when I sent you without purse or scrip, lacked ye anything?" In fact, for others, there was always plenty in the presence of the Lord. He provided them with everything needful. We never read of the Lord Jesus having any money. When on one occasion He wanted a penny, He said, "Show me a penny." When the temple contribution collectors wanted the didrachmas, He instructed Peter to go "to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when thou hast opened its mouth, thou shalt find a double didrachma; that take and give unto them for me and thee." His was a life of perfect dependence. What a pity that Peter answered for the Lord in that last instance! Even a prophet might go beyond the word. Look at Nathan and David about the house. If a portion of God's word is disputed, and you are sure it is His word, this is then a controversy with God.

"Freely ye have received, freely give" (ver. 8). What have we that we have not received? "Of thine own have we given thee," said David, and it may have amounted to about nineteen millions sterling of his "own proper good." God fills our hands now with Christ, and Christ it is whom we bring to God in our worship. Nothing counts with God but Christ.

The word "meat" in verse 10 means food or nourishment. How simplicity is stamped on the instructions given here! They were to be relieved from all anxiety. Some have been somewhat puzzled by the words "nor yet staves" occurring here, while in another place they are allowed to take a staff. We know there is nothing contradictory. In this case the Lord here says, "Provide not," that is, they were not to go and procure one, but if they had one, they were permitted to take it (Mark 6:8).

"Into whatsoever city or town ye enter enquire who in it is worthy." We see this cannot apply to the gospel now, because it goes out to the most unworthy and unlikely. Those only were the worthy ones who believed in the Messiah. In the coming day those who receive the messengers, the Lord's brethren, or Jews, will be the sheep on His right hand when the Son of man shall have come in His glory and there are gathered before Him all the nations, living Gentiles on the earth (Matt. 25). The messengers then will be those who now are like dogs in a manger. That work will be done in a short time, and none but the Jews will accomplish it. Scattered all over the world, and remarkable as linguists they will be fitted to preach "the gospel of the kingdom."

The gospel of the kingdom is very different from the gospel of the grace of God. The everlasting gospel of Rev. 14 has its announcement in Gen. 3. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head the execution of coming judgment. By His death on the cross, the seed of the woman has annulled Satan, and He is going to bruise him. He will be bruised under the saints' feet shortly.

The Lord's commission here is to the twelve, and as also looking on to a future day (ver. 23). The Apostle of the Gentiles worked with his own hands. That was grace on his part, and he would not allow the Corinthians to rob him of his privilege. Evidently the remnant will go by these instructions. This ministry was interrupted by the death of Christ, but it will ultimately be resumed. There comes in now a big parenthesis of time; but the preachers in a day yet to come will resume the testimony now interrupted, and these instructions will apply to them.

"And when ye come into a house salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy let your peace return to you" (vers. 12, 13). That was a blessing for those saluted, but the salutors would not be losers if the message was rejected, and the salutation would not be lost. In principle that may be true now. When a faithful message is not received, a blessing returns to the messenger. The Lord Himself was limited in His works by their unbelief.

"Shake off the dust, of your feet." Paul and Barnabas did it in Acts 14. They had been addressing both Jews and Gentiles. Paul says in another place, "I am clean from the blood of all men." I was thinking of Ezekiel 33 in connection with this. There Ezekiel was set as a watchman, and if he failed to blow the trumpet, he was responsible for those slain. Was not Paul referring to that. How necessary to be faithful to what is committed to one! He was faithful as a steward, and a very blessed responsibility it is.

"Verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and. Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." Here is a very solemn lesson! In the O.T. (and that has led many astray who do not see the teaching of God's word as to atonement, and who make light of sin) we do not get eternal judgment; and eternal life is only mentioned twice, and in reference to the millennium. But when Christ came, Who is the Truth, everything came out, and you get blessed teaching about eternal life, and solemn unfolding of eternal judgment. You get that very expression in Heb. 6. God has not finished with the O.T. sinners. What brought down His judgment on Sodom and Gomorrha? The moral filth of those wicked cities is not so bad as the guilt of grace slighted! God is never in a hurry to execute judgment. The language of Gen. 19 shows us He is righteous in all His ways. He will be justified about all He has written in His word, and clear when He is judged. One thing in Scripture, whether stated or not in any particular place God never sends a stroke without warning; and the space between warning and stroke is called His long-suffering.

This chapter, we may observe, is divided into three parts: each part concluding with the words, "Verily, I say unto you." The first part ending at ver. 15 gives directions; then to ver. 23, tells of persecutions; and from ver. 24 to the end we get encouragements.

Our section today commences (ver. 16) with "Behold" calling special attention. If sheep were simply exposed to wolves it would be bad enough, but to be sent among them is more serious still. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise (prudent) as serpents, and harmless (guileless) as doves." You want the combination. It is a sad thing to have only the prudence and a very weak thing to have only the guilelessness. I suppose to be prudent as serpents would save them from rashness, from running into danger; but on the other hand they were not to injure others. We never ought to give men just cause to charge us with anything unseemly. They had to be on their guard. "But beware of men." This supposes theirs was a testimony within the borders of Israel. The "men" here were their kinsmen, but their animosity to Christ would lead them to deliver up and scourge even those who were related to them.

"Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them, and the Gentiles." We see this in the Acts, where Paul is brought before Felix, and Festus, and then before king Agrippa. Clear instructions are given them in verse 19. It is misapplied if spoken of the preaching of the gospel. It has no reference to any service for the Lord, but would save them from anxiety when on their trial.

"For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit," not of God, but "of your Father." That would be beautifully exemplified in Acts 26. In Acts 21 we have Paul's going up to Jerusalem, but he does not there appear on the highest level; he had been swayed by his affections for Israel, his brethren, but in chap. 26 he is quite recovered, and what a splendid testimony he is enabled to give. Instead of being, as was thought, an enemy to Israel, he shows their advantages in Rom. 9 more than they could themselves.

"And brother shall deliver up brother to death." It is Christ that brings out the true character of everyone. The tenderest ties of nature are set aside here in their animosity for those true' to Christ. This is the beginning of the testimony of the future, and we get (ver. 22), "He that endures to the end shall be saved." At that time they will be exposed to terrible pressure, when they are unable to buy or sell unless they have the mark of the beast. "And cause them to be put to death." There will be some preserved to go into millennial blessing on the earth, and others who will be martyred — to have their part in the first resurrection. We get this resurrection in Rev. 20:4. "They lived," that is how it is described. The first resurrection commenced with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is the first fruits, not of course of the wicked, but of those who have "part in the first resurrection," for "blessed and holy" are all such. The title "Son of man" (ver. 23) is connected with His coming in judgment, never with His coming for us. In chap. 25:13 the words "Wherein the Son of man cometh" are well known to be an interpolation.

Now we come to the last section of our chapter, wherein the Lord gives instruction that would illustrate being "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." It is not for the follower of Christ to "stand up for his rights." Evidently this particular testimony was but for a short period. It was broken by the death of Christ and will be taken up again. "He that endures unto the end." Of the remnant some will be spared, some martyred. It you turn to Rev. 12:13, where the dragon persecutes the woman, you have there the Jewish nation "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came," as the special object of his animosity. Then is the last half of the week when they will be subject to the most awful pressure, not only hated of all nations, but of the apostate part of their own nation. There will be among them those who will endure to the end. The Lord Jesus says in one place "When the Son of man comes shall he find faith on the earth?" That is, real saints, with divine life in their souls will be subject to such pressure that they will despair of God's interference. We find a picture of it in chap. 14 of this Gospel. Just as Peter is about to sink, the omnipotent hand of Messiah saves him. "Except those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake whom he path chosen those days shall be shortened." You have a magnificent outburst at the close of Habakkuk as to what God can be to His people in the darkest days. The remnant will indeed know God as the God of their salvation. You get pictures of it frequently in the O.T., as for instance, in Egypt under Pharaoh, when he sought to destroy all the male children. Then again in Ahab's reign, when for three years and six months the heaven was shut up and there was bitter persecution. God cared for His people. Obadiah was in Ahab's household, and Pharaoh's own daughter brought Moses up.

There are three companies in the last part of Matt. 25, the sheep, the goats, and the brethren. Those that fear God will be kind to the Jews; if not kind to them, they are His enemies. The sheep go into millennial blessings on the earth; the goats to everlasting punishment. The sheep answer to Shiphrah and Puah, who feared God and He made them houses (Ex. 1).

Vers. 24, 25: The Lord is encouraging them here, as in all this third part. "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord." "If they have called" (or surnamed, it is more a surname or nickname) "the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" You get there the relation of the disciple to the teacher, the relation of the servant to his Lord, and of the inmates of his house to the master. They ought not to be surprised at the way they were treated when they thought what the Teacher, the Lord, the Master got. "Fear them not" occurs twice in verses 26 and 28. He encourages them to be bold and courageous. Paul and Barnabas waxed bold. Boldness goes along with confidence in the Lord. "They so spake that a great many … believed." How did they speak? "Confiding in the Lord." If you have a gift you need the Lord's help, and if you are weak and nothing, you will surely have it.

Ver. 28: It shows here that the punishment of the wicked is in their bodies, Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" — Gehenna, the lake of fire. Hades the place of torment is for those in their disembodied state. The torment of the lost begins at once, as the believer's blessedness also does. Mark 9 is very solemn, even if you take Gehenna as the figure, but the Lord says "their worm dies not," man's conscience. It is terrible to think of man's conscience in hell approving God's righteous judgment against itself, as it must. And it is well to test that now. Paul, knowing the terror of the Lord, persuaded men. Seeing what an awful thing it is to die unsaved ought to stir up the servants of the Lord. John Newton said: "By the mercies of God I beseech men; by the terrors of the Lord, I persuade men!" There is something most solemn in the denial of eternal punishment. It belittles the death of Christ. Only the Eternal Son could meet the wrath of the Eternal God against sin. It is remarkable that those who hold non-eternity of punishment constantly fall out amongst themselves. How the cross is the true measure of everything! All was brought to an issue there. It is sweet to be able to say:
"The torment and the fire mine eyes shall never see."
All this is to encourage them to be courageous and bold, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony."

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." God is so great that He can take notice of these little things. He is great in great things and great in little things. A thing so insignificant, and apparently so worthless! noticed by your Father! The word "heavenly" is dropped here.

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." This is to impress them with the inscrutable care of their Father.

"Fear ye not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows." We must listen to the Lord in John 17 to get an inkling of what we are worth. God could have created what in man's eyes might have been a far better world than this for each saint, and one perhaps more glorious than this was at the creation, but what could all have been in comparison with that which He has given us in Christ, and we have indeed more than this even — yea, the love of Him that gave it all.

What blessed encouragement we have here! It is given in view of circumstances which may cost a great deal to confess the Lord. Animosity showed itself in Cain and Abel, and the same principles have prevailed ever since. You cannot eliminate from the word of God the fact that "all that will live godly shall suffer persecution." There is a tremendous lot of underhanded persecution even if it appear not openly. There is only one instance in the N.T. where it looks like a christian desiring punishment on a foe, viz., 2 Tim. 4:14. But it should read, "The Lord will reward him according to his works." Paul did not desire Alexander's punishment, but he knew enough of God's ways to know He would deal with him. We know of course, that when the church is gone the godly remnant will be full of the cry for vengeance, and will rightly take up the imprecatory language of the Psalms.

Vers. 34-42: The object of the Lord's coming was not the sending of a sword, but such was the result through man's condition. The Lord could not do an unworthy thing. What He brings introduces what is quite irreconcilable with the principles of the world. Light and darkness never coalesce. Men in their unregenerate state are hateful, and hating one another; the Lord was hated without a cause. Those most like Him are hated and despised too, for they are the very ones who are the most offensive to proud, self-assertive man. If you turn to 1 John 3:12, you find the first two men that were born into the world, and the elder hates the younger (Gen. 4:5). Directly the man of faith was accepted by God, the countenance of Cain fell.

The Lord here, in this passage, demands a love beyond the tenderest earthly affection. Where there is a real conversion and a godly testimony, there is often terrible family opposition. Both Peter and Paul, in presenting the gospel, say, Thou and thy house (Acts 11:14; Acts 16:31). Even if not the head of the house, may I not count on God for them all? Rahab did. But the Lord's words would show how it is possible to have terrible family variance and antipathy. That would be a cross. Every believer has his cross, but this in ver. 38 is in connection with family persecution. Some in taking, in faithfulness, this cross may have to suffer to the giving up of life, or if not that, to the losing of all earthly prospects, even being disinherited from their part in the family inheritance, etc. Yet are they not losers, but great gainers, if it is through faithfulness to Christ.

The word "sword" (ver. 34) is of course used figuratively. The Lord in Luke 22, when referring to this very chapter, told them all this was set aside, and they were to buy a sword. When the Lord was here they had the benefit of Messiah's presence, but now it was all to be changed, and they were to accept persecution. The government is raised up for our good. The worst government that ever was is better than none, and we should acknowledge it with thankfulness.

Ver. 39 is quite a paradox to most. The Lord uses it more than once (chap. 16:15; John 12:25). Life is looked at in both a higher and a lower sense here; the life temporal and transient, and that which is spiritual and eternal, that which is "really life." Yet there are those who have been taught to make the best of both worlds. How that would clash with this! The best and divine way is to serve Christ.

In the Epistles we get something more definite. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable (or intelligent) service." There it does not mean you are constantly to be doing it, but what you have given to the Lord you would not take back again. If you have laid it on the altar it would be singular to take it away again!

It is not that the difficulties of the way and of the life are hid from them, but the Lord gives His own great encouragement. What wonderful dignity is in ver. 40, and the Lord's rewards, how wonderful they are! the rewards of grace, but not presented as motives. The motive should be the glory of God and love to Christ. The crown of life, the crown of glory, the crown of righteousness, are rewards and encouragements.

It is very sweet that the disciples are called "little ones." No doubt the expression is taken from Zech. 13:7. How precious to Him these little ones are! There is a gradation in verses 40-42: first, Himself; then, a prophet — one who reaches the conscience, not simply a foreteller of future events, but one who brings the soul into the presence of God (the testimony of a prophet in the assembly would make the unlearned own that God was with them of a truth, Cor. 14); then, one who is not a prophet if he has a heart for a prophet shall receive the reward as if he were a prophet, it shows that it is all of grace; then again, the righteous man, and he receives the seal of righteousness; and lastly, "whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. We can take it literally, but if it is the smallest possible thing done to one because he belongs to Christ (Mark 9:41), God does not forget it. Compare Heb. 6:10 "toward His Name," this is the great point. We may gather from this 42nd verse that many things will be rewarded which may have been unwittingly rendered, or deemed of so little value as not to be worthy of notice. Though we know Matt. 25:40 applies to others than ourselves, yet the principle abides for all. This is a secret act here. Where the heart is prompted from love to Christ to show even the least possible kindness, the Lord will not forget it.

Ver. 23 is an insuperable difficulty if people do not see dispensational teaching. Daniel's seventy weeks were running out, and unless we see the great gap between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth we get into awful confusion. There will be some that will take up the testimony that was broken off by the rejection of the Messiah — a special testimony to the Jew, and also a special testimony to the Gentile. Even in the Acts we can see that Jews and Gentiles are differently addressed. The apostles take the Jews up upon the Scriptures, as, for instance, in Acts 13, where we have a wonderful sermon taking up the O.T. writings, for to the Jews were committed the oracles of God. But to the Athenians in chap. 17 the apostle said nothing about the Scriptures. The Jewish martyrs will overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; but in Rev. 14:7, it is, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and fear him that made heaven," etc. He is coming to judge and He is the Great Creator.

Matthew 11

1918 117 We had the King's court in Matt. 10; now in chaps. 11, 12, we have the King's rejection. In Matt. 11 the rejection of His Galilean ministry, and in Matt. 12 His rejection by the religious leaders, and mostly at Jerusalem.

In the early part of this Gospel John had said, "Whose fan is in his hand and he will throughly purge his floor." John did not suppose the Lord's rejection with its consequence, the calling out of a new body, to be the Church, so that we cannot be surprised at the question he puts here. Wonderful prophet as John was, he as much as others needed the Lord's upholding care. Here he is not as he was before. In John 1. it is not "we," but "I," and his testimony at the end of John 3 is also very beautiful. But it is sweet to see how the Lord deals with him, and therein is a lesson for all of us. Verse 6 was a little rebuke to John, but how graciously given! He should not have stumbled or been offended, yet how the Lord praised him when the messengers were gone! We should be faithful to a person to his face, but ever ready to stand up justifiably behind his back. "John did no miracle," we are distinctly told, so when he heard in prison the works of Christ he sent these messengers. Now he shall have testimony not only of that which was generally spread abroad, but of those things again which the two disciples he had sent both heard and saw. After all, the greatest thing was that the poor had the gospel preached to them. They heard that. If we turn to Isa. 35:5-6, which no doubt John knew well, we get the features of Messiah's day. "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." These were to be the signs of Messiah's presence, and that is what they saw. John would know the meaning of the message. We ought never to allow a doubt of the truth. Nothing is more dishonouring to God's word, or to the work of the Lord Jesus; and our concern as Christians should be to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.

It may appear on the surface as if John were a reed easily shaken, but he was no coward. If Herod feared John, John did not fear Herod. Of course those who go in for luxury will be found in king's palaces; there is nothing like that with John. He had a very distinguished place; he was indeed "more than a prophet," for he was the subject of prophecy, both by Isaiah and Malachi. And further, he was the immediate forerunner of the Messiah.

I suppose verse 11 has puzzled a good many, and there have been all kinds of twisting to make it fit men's conceptions. You could reckon up many things that would show how the believer now has a greater place than even John. One can understand an O.T. saint reading the promises about the new covenant and with true faith looking forward to them; but now that Messiah had been here and redemption now accomplished, the blessing of the new covenant is not only secured for Israel's day, but a much fuller blessing is already ours. John 7 anticipates the Spirit to be given in the present dispensation after that Jesus was glorified, and Acts 2:33 gives its fulfilment. God is putting honour on His beloved Son in blessing us accordingly. Speaking of the Psalms, if we take up Ps. 32, which is quoted in Rom. 4 we must not think David's experience given there reaches to that of a saint now. The Psalm refers to a particular sin, which David had confessed, and he had the prophet's word that that sin was put away. Now all believers are entitled to the blessing of a purged conscience, to know that sin can never be imputed to them as guilt. This is little understood, but it is the privilege of all believers. If you take the disciples, who were so blessedly placed (for Matt. 13:16-17 shows that they were in "a superior place" to the O.T. saints who looked forward to all this) the Lord says to them "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth," showing that when the Holy Ghost came they would be in a far superior place still. Our great fault is that we don't appreciate it.

The kingdom of heaven is the rule of heavens on the earth. The kingdom of God would include the kingdom of heaven. There could not be the kingdom of heaven until the Lord was in heaven. Since His rejection it is in mystery; we shall have that before us in chap. 13. In the millennium the kingdom will be manifested. Now it is "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ"; then it will be His kingdom and power. "The kingdom of his dear Son" implies that we are brought under the sway of His Son; we are not left to do our own will. This is a present thing for the Christian now, to love and obey Him. Paul woke up to it as soon as converted — "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Heaven is used in different ways in scripture. There is the heaven where the birds fly; the heaven where the stars are; the heaven where God's throne is. In the millennium heaven and earth will be brought together, men will be able to see heaven then.

Ver. 12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, etc." John was cast into prison, and it is generally considered he was kept there 12 months, at any rate his ministry preceded the Lord's. He was sent to prepare the way for the King. What made them fit subjects for the 'kingdom was repentance. His testimony and that of the Lord was that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. And those who had faith in the Messiah were ready for the kingdom. Naturally there was a lot to hinder them, to break away from that which was Jewish. The Jews were far different from the Gentiles, for they knew they were God's people, and that their religion was of divine origin. So it was not those with very little interest who would get the blessing. This verse shows there must be real earnestness — the violent take it by force.

"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John" (ver. 13). It is very transitional. It shows clearly you are on the verge of something new. John was the last of the prophets; when we get to the Epistles we get prophets there, but it is not "prophets and apostles," but "apostles and prophets" — the prophets are after the apostles. So John Baptist finishes the list as far as the O.T. prophets are concerned. If you turn to 1 Cor. 14 it says, "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." That has not ceased. Tongues have ceased, as all the sign gifts have, but prophecy remains. We may all covet to prophesy. What the Lord says about the effect of prophesying here (in contrast to speaking with tongues) and what the woman in John 4. says, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet," shows that a prophet is one who brings the soul by what he says into the presence of God. In the Epistle to the Ephesians we are said to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets," viz., those who were inspired to give us the truth — Mark and Luke, for instance, who were — not apostles but prophets, though alike inspired.

"If you will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come" (ver. 14). John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and it laid the responsibility upon them. They could not say, this cannot be Messiah, because Elijah must come first. They were left without excuse.

"He that has ears to hear let him hear" (ver. 15). You get this too in the addresses to the seven churches. It makes it intensely individual. They were individually responsible.

That generation (ver. 16) has not passed away. Sometimes the word "generation" is used of those living when the Lord was here, as "who shall declare His generation." Then it is used of a class of people also, "this generation shall not pass, etc.," a Christ-rejecting generation. John was too severe for them, and the grace of the Lord they could not understand.

"But Wisdom is justified of her children." John was right and the Lord was right. John had justified Him and others had too. It is a true test. The dying thief very blessedly justified Him. In Luke 7 the Lord uses the same words (ver. 35), and immediately after you get the woman of the city coming to anoint Him.

At the close of this chapter we have the Lord's loving invitation, and, in the beginning of the chapter which gives that magnificent description of Wisdom (Proverbs 8), you get her crying at the gates "Unto you, O men, I call." But here is a better invitation, "Come unto Me!" and here we get His rejection, the rejection of His Galilean ministry. This fits in with Isaiah 49. Most of the Lord's mighty works were done round the sea of Galilee, and He says there, "I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought and in vain." That is just what we get here. So He upbraids the cities because they repented not, He upbraids His own because they believed not. This is the only place where Chorazin is named. Philip, Andrew, and Peter all belonged to Bethsaida. These verses are very solemn; we need to weigh them well. Repentance is real submission of soul to what God says in His word about me. There is a lot of subtle teaching about, about another chance deduced from that we have here. Let it be clear; everything about eternity is settled in this life. Nobody will be judged to see if they are saved or lost; the dead will be judged for their works. Condemned already (John 3:18), they are condemned then.

Why should the Spirit of God in 1 Peter 3:. 20 refer the believers to whom Peter was writing to that particular class that heard Noah preach? Why are they only singled out? Those to whom Peter wrote were comparatively few only, as in Noah's day there were only eight saved, whereas the many who then perished are here spoken of as now in prison. No, don't think you are wrong because you are few. There must have been a tremendous population on the earth then, yet only eight were saved!

So Tyre and Sidon had been visited in judgment by God; for instance, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed them, but God has not done with them. Temporal judgments are not eternal ones. They will have to be before the Great White Throne. It is then it will be more tolerable for them. They were a dissolute people, but their guilt was not so great, and their punishment will not be so great as those who rejected the testimony of Christ.

It is very solemn and very striking about Sodom. Those who rejected Christ will have severer judgment, severer penalty at the Great White Throne, than even the filthy Sodomites. God alone knows how to apportion the measure of guilt to each. So it will be more tolerable for Sodom itself than for those who rejected Christ. The greatest guilt that can rest on any soul is the rejection of Him.

There are those who take up Luke 16, and say Lazarus was the Gentile, and the rich man the Jew! But then it would teach it were impossible for the Jew to be saved, and that would make God a liar! To the Jew first and also to the Gentile. No. It shows that the believer enters into blessing and the unbeliever into misery, as soon as he departs, though it may be long before they get their resurrection bodies.

Ver. 25. In these verses, 25 to 30, what evidences we have that it is a divine Person! His looking up to the Supreme Who does as He will. His Father is sovereign Lord of heaven and earth; it must be always right if it be good in His sight. And if He was rejected by man "the Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand." "No man knows the Son but the Father." In that sense it will always be true, inscrutable, and incomprehensible. We know Him as Saviour, but there is that in His Person which is unfathomable., There is an aspect of the death of Christ that is wholly for God, the burnt offering. Then the meal offering, fine flour mingled with oil, corresponding to Luke 1:35; unleavened wafers anointed with oil, corresponding to His baptism; but all the frankincense was for God. There was that which God alone could enter into; that is what we get here. But it is not that we don't value it all. It was all necessary, a perfect life that was given up, that which God could accept. But His life is not our righteousness. Paul could glory and rejoice in having a very excellent knowledge of Christ, but although he had that he had an earnest desire to have a better; yet he would never be able to get to the end. The Father alone knows the Son. We have some apprehension but
"The Father, only Thy blest name
Of Son can comprehend"
or take it all in. The Son revealed the Father. "The Father" always carries with it the thought of grace. "The Father judges no man."

We get something very similar when the seventy come back in Luke 10. The Lord could fall back on what the Father did as absolutely perfect. There was an adoring acquiescence in the Lord. It is well to remember that this was the close of His Galilean ministry, but from Isaiah 49 we learn that He could fall back on God's approbation and care, "My judgment is with Jehovah and my work with my God." Then to His Father He speaks of His absolute sovereignty — Who does as He will. He never Himself addresses the Father as Lord, though He calls Him Lord of heaven and earth. But it was a divine person speaking. This almost reminds us of John's language. When He asks He demands; a different word is used about others.

"Wise and prudent," i.e., self-sufficient ones. "Wise" according to its use in the N.T. would be those who are educated, trained, such as we find among the Greeks; "prudent" would be shrewd. In both cases it implies self-sufficiency. "Babes" — not the reasoners but receivers. "Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." It is a principle that is laid down here. All human pride is banned by God, and no flesh can glory in His presence. Man gets the blessing, God the glory, in doing things this way.

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father" (ver. 27). In John 3 we read "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand!' There is far more than omnipotence in the statement "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," — there is authority too. So in John 13. when taking the low place, it was as knowing that the Father had given all things into His hand. That which is deepest in the cross of Christ can only be fathomed by God Himself.

"Mystery" does not of itself necessarily mean something very difficult; its general meaning is something secret; but "the mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3:16) can never be fathomed; great it is, "without controversy."

The Son objectively makes the Father known, the One Who was always without a break in the bosom of the Father. It is not "the Father" who forsook the Son, but God, "My God." On the cross He was never more than then the Father's delight. "God" forsook Christ, not the Father forsook the Son. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is far sweeter than even our Father. Jews never knew Him in that way. And we Gentiles should never have had this knowledge but by the Son who has told Him out. There were some whose eyes were opened to behold the moral beauties of Christ, as it says, "We beheld His glory" yet
"Only those His glory saw,
To whom Thou gavest sight."

The "labour" and "heavy laden" correspond to the "yoke" and the "burden." Animals draw, in places, with the yoke, but a burden is carried on the back. We must connect this with what precedes. If the Lord here is rejected as the King by the people among which He had been pleased to dwell, yet is there blessing for an even wider circle than Israel — "Come unto me all ye that labour," etc. He has rest, blessed be His name, for any who will but come to Him. "I will give you rest." It is all of grace.

What a blessed thing to be bound up with Him. "Take my yoke" (ver. 29). Naturally, the very opposite to Him, yet if His meekness and lowliness be produced in us, this is how we get it; and the one in whom it is produced will be himself unconscious of it.

Matthew 12

1918 136 I have no doubt there is a connection between the "rest" of the previous verses and the sabbath that now follows in this twelfth chapter. God's rest in creation was disturbed by sin. It is striking there is no mention of any sabbath after that for 2,500 years. When we consider the book of Genesis and all that we get there — the germ of almost all that we get in other parts of scripture — how remarkable that we have no mention of the sabbath till the giving of the manna in Exodus 16, a type of the lowly Lord Jesus! It was impossible for God to rest, as far as man was concerned, in a scene of sin and misery (for God is love). "My Father works hitherto and I work." The "rest" of chap. 11:28 is gratuitous and free, then follows the "rest" to be found. There is a great distinction between "finding" his yoke-rest, and getting the rest that He "gives."

For a lesson of industry the Spirit takes us to the ant; for valour to the lion; for prudence to the serpent; but for meekness to the Son. And as we learn, we find what a contrast there is between Him and ourselves. We read in the O.T. of Moses as the meekest man in the earth; yet he lost his temper and spoke unadvisedly, and so was a loser thereby. We are not all alike. But I had rather be a man with a bad temper who mourned over it and tried to control it, than be a sweet tempered person satisfied with it. The great thing is for us to have confidence in God and no confidence in the flesh. And I suppose, in learning of Jesus, it is learning that the Father's way is always right, and we yield submission of soul to the Father's will, bowing to His dispensations. We are in a scene of contrariety and opposition. But look at the Lord. There was no failure in Him or His love, yet He was the rejected of men. Learn of Him. Compare 2 Tim. 2:8-13.

It is well to see the connection of Rom. 8:28. We look around and see a groaning creation. We know it will be delivered, but we do not know how to pray about it, how to propose a remedy for it. We long for the Lord to take the reins and put it right, but we can groan in sympathy, for it is those who have the Spirit who groan according to God. But though we know not what we should pray for, we do "know that all things work together for good to them that love God," etc.

Does it not seem a paradox — the yoke easy, the burden light? But the Lord is always right. If we are walking along with Him we find the yoke is "gracious," and the burden "light."

There is a rest for the conscience and that is given to us; a rest for the heart which we find in learning of Him; and there is a rest that remains into which we have not yet entered. Of this last the sabbath is a type. Heb. 4:3 is often misunderstood — "we which have believed do enter into rest." The force is we who have believed are the enterers into the rest that remains to the people of God. We have not that rest now; when the time comes we shall enter "into His rest" (see vers. 1-11).

Taking up our chapter (12:1) the opening words "At that time" make it very sweet, and show the connection. It is called by Luke (Luke 6:1) "a second-first sabbath" — a singular, but appropriate expression. The first sabbath was the day when the wave sheaf was offered before Jehovah: this was the second, so the disciples were perfectly right in using the corn for their need (Lev. 23:14). If instead of rejecting the King, His people had received Him, those that formed His court would not have been in this strait — hungry and glad to eat the ears uncooked. Of old as now God's anointed had been rejected! In David's day, by their sin, their treatment of the rightful king, the holy bread had been profaned and made common. What are all ceremonials when sin is tolerated? David was the rejected king, and so is brought in here.

The sabbath is not the first day but the seventh day of the week. There is no such thing as a "christian" sabbath. "The sabbath" or seventh day was connected with the old creation, the "first day" with the new. The N.T. unites with the Lord's name, the first day, and also the supper; for the adjectival form of the word used in 1 Cor. 11:20 "the Lord's" supper is identical with "the Lord's" day in Rev. 1:10, and these two places form its only occurrence. The first of the week is constantly spoken of in the N.T. People make so much of the uniform seventh day — a certain 24 hours — but this cannot apply all over the world, because while it is mid-day here it is midnight at the antipodes. But in a limited area to a people "folded" off it exactly suited. The sabbath is incorporated in the law of a carnal commandment; the Lord's day is a day of holy liberty. "He that regards the day," has no reference to the Lord's day. There were Jews who regarded certain days as still of God's appointment; to such those who knew their liberty as risen with Christ were to be gracious. We ought to be on our guard to avoid legality. We are under grace and ought to be jealous of it.

If you take up for instance the subject of baptism and make it an ordinance or command, you are off the lines of scripture. It is a privilege. The command is to the evangelist to baptise. But it is a holy, blessed privilege to the believer. "Behold, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptised?" or, as Peter said, "Who can forbid water that these should not be baptised?" Such expressions could have no force if it were a command to be baptised. The evangelist ought either to baptise or see that his converts be baptised.

The perfect law of liberty belongs to the saint of God, liberty to serve God and His saints. The desire to do God's will is bound to go with the new nature. The way the hortatory portion of Romans (chap. 12) commences is very beautiful, and is the language of grace. If you please the Lord you do well. Although these people were so fastidious, how blind they were to the glory of the One they hated without a cause! You get three "greaters" in this chapter. As to the Person, He was greater than the temple; He was greater than Jonah type of death and resurrection, and He was greater than Solomon in the glory of the kingdom (vers. 6, 41, 43).

"At that time" is different to "immediately." I suppose the verse shows us that if the claims of the temple required that the sabbath should be profaned, they would not have judged the Lord, who was greater than the temple, had they been aware of His true glory; "greater than the temple"; the glory of His person. What gave the temple its importance was the glory, and that which will give it its importance, in the future, is the glory coming back; but here was God present with them manifest in flesh. And they did not know the true character of God although their scriptures were full of it. They will know in future that He will have mercy and not sacrifice, a quotation from a millennial psalm.

Then there is that important verse (8), "The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath day." He is not only greater than the temple but He who in grace became the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. If He is Lord you see He is the One to regulate, and to order, and to say what should and should not be. David was the anointed king, and if he was so circumstanced that he had not food, what was the value of the showbread to God if His own "anointed" had need? If that was true of the type, what of the Lord Himself?

Then the Spirit of God calls for our attention by another "Behold." "And when he was departed thence he went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man there which had his hand withered" (vers. 9, 10). We can see ourselves in this man; he had no ability to hand up anything to God, or to extend a hand to others. It is very nice to see that the priest is the worshipper. He is the one who goes in before God. Consecration means filling the hand. We must receive from Him first. We come in our helplessness, empty-handed. He fills the hand, and then we hand what He gives us, back to God. On a Lord's day morning we are here as worshippers. What we gather up all the week should be handed back to God then. At the prayer meeting we come to get; on Lord's day morning, to give in worship.

They watch Him, dog His steps, seek to get an opportunity against Him. This is the first time their design is named. They ask, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?" There was an abuse of mercy, hardness of heart. But He is the stone on which all who fall are broken. We shall see that all are broken here. Whether Herodians, Pharisees, all who come to break Him are broken themselves. He said, "What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep; and, if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?" Why instinctively a man would know that it would not be of God to leave a poor animal suffering; but their selfishness also comes out; it is their own sheep. On both counts they are condemned. In preaching the gospel, what a beautiful subject this is! We were in the pit, and the Lord went down into a horrible pit to rescue us. It is beautiful where we come in in the 40th Psalm. It is in connection with the new song. It is all personal and singular up to that, but "He path put a new song into my mouth, even praise unto our God." A new song is always about redemption. All is done for us there except the song itself.

A sinner more readily learns that he is a sinner than that he has no strength, no ability to move a straw out of his way to God. I might learn to be disgusted with myself, but could never learn that I was lost without a revelation. Repentance is real submission of soul to God. It is very beautiful to see the three things dealt with in John 3, 4, 5. In John 3 man's nature won't do for God; in John 4 we find a bad character; and in John 5 no strength. It was pure mercy here, but man had no strength to avail himself of it. Nature, character, condition — neither will do for God.

No word of His is void of power. Power went with the command. We must beware of philosophy, which would say, 'If man be dead, he can't hear.' Dead, yet "Hear and your soul shall live." Israel limited the Holy One, and we do also, alas! too often. We have not to preach to sinners that repentance and faith are God's gift; that is no part of gospel testimony. It is but seldom that the Lord speaks of the sovereignty of God in blessing in public testimony; only twice, and both times grace had been rejected. In Luke 4, first, they wondered at His words of grace, then they despised Him. Then He tells them of God's sovereignty in blessing, "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias … but unto none of them was Elias sent save unto Sarepta of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow." And, "Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian."

The other occasion is in John 5, when He heals the impotent man. This and the incident of our chapter were a testimony to Israel, He Who could heal the one, could do likewise to all. The miracles that He did were samples of what He will do on a grand scale when He comes to reign.

"Then the Pharisees went out and held a council against Him how they might destroy Him" (ver. 14). It does not say they were bent on destroying Him, but what they took counsel about was how to compass it. They would rather cling to their own thoughts about the sabbath than listen to His teaching.

"He healed them all." What a plenitude of grace and power! There is no persecution so bitter as religious persecution. "He withdrew himself" they could not touch Him until His hour was come. They took up stones, but they were never allowed to touch Him until He gave His back to the smiters — until He could say, "This is your hour." The Lord never took a doubtful step, or a step in the dark, and He never sought popularity. He went to other villages.

The scripture order no doubt is, He chose twelve first, that they might be with Him; secondly, He sent them forth; thirdly, they came back to tell Him. The Lord never gave anything to anybody to make anything of man. No flesh shall glory in His presence.

Verse 18: Here we get the word "Behold" in another sense, "Behold my servant whom I have chosen." "Look upon my servant" is the force here, the only perfect servant; and "my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles." Judgment here is discriminating grace. That is a remarkable expression in Haggai 2:7. "The desire of all nations shall come." It is not that they are intelligent, but the nations have the sense that things are wrong, and they want someone to put them right. Whatever efforts are made, as in the case of the man possessed with demons, all are futile; he is a picture of the whole human race, and of the inability of man to tame it; but the Lord's personal presence will put all things right.

Verse 19: What a testimony to the Lord's gentleness and grace — "He shall not strive nor cry"; how gentle and unobtrusive!

But verse 20 is often misunderstood. A bruised reed is very weak, and smoking flax easily quenched. "Until" — He is going to do it in judgment by and by. What people mean in the way they quote it is all right, He is tender and gentle to any poor thing; but He is going to deal with man in judgment. The reed and the flax are fit for judgment. The flax was "smoking," but He would not interfere then. Man, a poor bruised thing, was ignorant of it, and yet was not afraid to stand up against the Lord. So His grace is brought out here, but it will not be always grace; He will not always be so gentle. Smoking flax speaks of something fit for judgment; we usually put it out, He left it alone.

"On his name shall the Gentiles hope" (ver. 21). It is the same word as in Rom. 15:12. Hope is for something not yet come, but not an uncertainty. God can, and does speak of things that are not, as though they were. It does not say "shall be" in Isaiah 53:3. It is language put into the mouth of the remnant by and by. Their stony heart did esteem Him "stricken and smitten of God"; but when the veil is taken away, and they have a heart of flesh, they will see it was for their sakes. But God speaks of it prophetically.

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon (ver. 22). Blind to the true glory of the Lord, this man was like the majority of Israel; dumb for the praise of Him, and blind to His true glory. "He was in the world and the world knew him not."

"Is not this the Son of David?" (ver. 23). There they were and the question was raised, and this angered the Pharisees. The people had sought an open mind which the Pharisees would not allow. They said "This fellow cloth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the demons." The most awful thing they could say. There is no forgiveness for this in any age. It is a question of the person of the Lord. I have no doubt there is a connection between this and the 37th verse. "By thy words thou shalt be justified, etc." We should not know this was the sin against the Holy Ghost but for the Gospel of Mark; for to attribute to the chief of the demons what the Lord did in His grace and love, is the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. There is an acknowledgement here that the demons have only one chief. How suitably, simply, and convincingly the Lord deals with their various objections! He knew their thoughts.

There is something very solemn in what the Lord says in verse 26. There is a kingdom organised and ruled in the spirit-world by the devil. What we know as modern "spiritism" is nothing new. We have it in the O.T., necromancy, having to do with the dead, pretending to speak of the future. It distinctly speaks of some that they have "a familiar spirit." Then again what a question to put to them: "If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?" It would be strange indeed to attribute one case to the devil, and another case to another cause! What the Lord did was by the Spirit of God.

If, as we have observed, we have in chap. 11 the rejection of the Lord's Galilean ministry, and hence judgment on those cities, here it is His rejection by the religious leaders of Jerusalem. The final break was the crucifixion of the Lord, and the subsequent destruction of the city. We have noticed already, and shall see it more clearly as we proceed, that if the Jews reject Him, grace goes out to the Gentiles. The stream of grace flows from God's heart; they might shut it from themselves, but they could not hinder its flowing out wider and wider to the Gentiles.

"All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men" (ver. 31). What grace! In Heb. 6, the sin was going back to Judaism from Christianity. The Lord's glory was veiled, and there is an open door left for ignorance as to that. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The apostle Paul tells us "I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." Yet what had he not done, striving to get others to blaspheme? Those contemplated in Heb. 6:6 as "falling away" had been received into the assembly, had had all the privileges of Christianity, but had never been born again. They had everything but life! They knew not "salvation" (ver. 9).

Neither in this age, neither in the age to come (ver. 32) is a scripture which the Millennial Dawn people make use of. They try to make out that some will have another chance in the millennium; but this verse crushes their teaching. It says, "It shall not be forgiven him." Think what the Lord's testimony had been in this land of Israel, and for these Pharisees to attribute that to Satan! How awful! "Either make the tree and its fruit good," etc. So what they were doing was just showing their tree was bad, and the fruit corrupt. "Offspring of vipers" John said, when the Pharisees came to be baptised'. "Offspring of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" In their animosities and persecutions the religious are the most bitter. The learned and religious leaders of Israel were the most bitter against the Lord. That is a solemn word and shows up the condition of their heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." What my heart is occupied with, is what forms me.

Verse 35: The connection between the treasure and the heart is what the Lord had shown previously. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The apostle says, "If there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things." I suppose you know from experience that what your heart is set on and engaged with, that is what you speak about.

"Every idle word that men shall speak." An idle word is what has God in contempt. It is a lesson to show the solemnity of the right use of the tongue. It is an unruly member, but God can keep it in check. There is a proverb that says, "He that loves pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend." The heart and lips go together. While we are speaking of that, I should like to say that as far as words are concerned, if we say anything wrong we should judge it. But before the word is the intention, and it is better to judge intentions than words; before the intention is the thought, and it is better still to judge the thought in the light of the word of God which is living and powerful, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

"Master, we would see a sign from thee" (ver. 38). The word Master is "Teacher," they acknowledge Him as such. "We would see a sign," that discovered their condition most solemnly. Were they blind to all He had done? But what was the sign they asked for? If we look back to the O.T. we see frequently the sign of God's approval was fire from heaven; and, unmistakeably, we know what Elijah did, and the effect was they acknowledged Jehovah was God. The scribes and Pharisees ask the Lord for a sign, and He says in John 5, "I am come in my Father's name and ye receive me not. If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." So in Rev. 13:13 the one they receive gives the sign to them a sign they wanted to have — and fire comes down from heaven; but it is deceptive and Satanic. We identify this second beast of Rev. 13 with the "man of sin" of 2 Thess. 2:3-4. I quoted Acts 2:22 just now, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, wonders, and signs" — these very same words are used in connection with the Apocalyptic "beasts coming up out of the earth," but then "signs and wonders" are Satanic imitations. Yet the nation will be deceived. To serve the fixing of it on our memories we may characterise by words beginning with the letter "P" five men in scripture whom God "answered by fire." Abraham the Patriarch, Gideon the Patriot, David the Penitent, Solomon the Potentate, Elijah the Prophet.

"An evil and adulterous generation." Idolatry is adultery. The sign of Jonah is death and resurrection and turning to the Gentiles. On His rejection, Christ turns to the Gentiles after His resurrection. It is anticipatory, but we get the same thing in chap. 16:4. There there is something very interesting, but perhaps we ought to reserve it. There is a wonderful play upon Jonah of the O.T. and the son of Jona, in the N.T., and some peculiar parallels between them. They were both Galileans; both were sent to the Gentiles and both unwilling to go; both were found at Joppa. The hearers "repented" at the preaching of Jonah; so too when Peter returned to Jerusalem from Caesarea. they said "Then has God to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." But we shall see more when we come to the chapter.

If we were preaching the gospel from this passage, we should seek first to have the conscience cleared. Jonah was a type of the death of the Lord Jesus "Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." "Justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Not only greater than Jonah, He is also greater than Solomon. The queen of Sheba had a satisfied heart. God has given us the work of the Lord Jesus to clear our conscience, and the person of the Son to satisfy our hearts.

1918 150 The Lord Jesus was the very shortest part of three days in the grave. We should remember that the Jewish way of reckoning was to count a part of a day or year, as a whole one. Throughout the O.T., a part of a year is reckoned as a whole one, but there is a difference between the way the ten tribes reckoned the reigns of their kings, and the way Judah reckoned.

I do not think we should be warranted in counting the repentance of the Ninevites a repentance unto life; nor that of every individual heart before God. This brings out the awful sin of the rejection of such an One, greater than the Temple, greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon. In reference to the last named the principle comes out that to him that has shall more be given. Solomon gave back to the queen of Sheba all she brought, and a lot more besides. If we use what He gives us, He can give us more; but He never gives us anything to make much of ourselves. One great point the Lord makes here of the queen is her wonderful earnestness. But I have no doubt there is so much to distract our hearts, that he who values Christ must be earnest.

Verse 43. The man here out of whom the demons are gone, is an illustration of that Christ-rejecting generation. Empty, swept, and garnished ready for an occupant, the Jews will be like it when the church is gone, and they will never have been in such a condition before, ready for the antichrist. Such will be the state of the mass of the Jews. We have already had a picture of what will take place, when the demons entered into the swine, the type of the apostate part of the nation.

In verses 46-50 the Lord is showing the setting aside of His Jewish relation; then in the following chapter you get a typical action, the Lord goes out of the house and sits by the sea side, and then you get parables showing grace going out to the whole world. The stream of grace still flows on. And does not God's word show as God's cognizance of Mary and Peter! We get more of Peter's mistakes than of any other; and of His mother we get the Lord's words, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" and "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." But on the cross — the hour had come — you get the Lord's perfect human affection, and a divine person superior to all circumstances, ordering all things Himself. It is in John you get this, not in Luke. There is an earthly family and a heavenly family. Here it is the heavenly family superseding the earthly one. "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother." That is the family all disciples. "Whosoever." It is God's commandment that we should "believe on him," which at that time His brethren did not. "This is the true God, and eternal life."

We could almost say the end of this chapter corresponds to the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel, and that there is the great parenthesis in chapter 13.

Matthew 13

The prophet had said, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness," here the King is rejected. Yet if they rejected Him grace still goes on, and flows out to the Gentiles. The Lord had closed Jewish relationships, and spoken at the end of chap. 12 of a new family, a new relationship formed by the word of God. So He leaves the house, goes to the sea, and instead of a king reigning, it is "Behold, a sower went forth to sow." This action is typical. Outside God's ordered government, the sea often speaks of lawlessness. So in keeping with this you get in ver. 2 "great multitudes." Every word is in its place.

This chapter gives us seven parables. That other parables were spoken at the same time we gather from Mark and Luke, who use them in quite different connections. Here we have the great gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Daniel. The first parable is introductory. It is not a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, because the King is not there seen in heaven. It is His own work on earth. As has been said, You here get what was public and what was private. The parable was spoken in public; the exposition in private. But it may perhaps be as well for us to take both together.

The seed is the word of God, and is the same in each of the cases before us. There was nothing defective in the seed. The results have to do with the soil or ground. Luke speaks of an honest and good heart; that is never found in man naturally, but only as produced by the grace of God.

There are four classes of hearers. In the first class the devil prevails; in the second the flesh; whilst in the third it is the world. In the fourth class, however, the Holy Ghost it is that prevails. Satan comes when the seed is sown by the wayside; it does not enter, it does not take root, for the wicked one catches it away. Hence there is no result. The defect is in the soil. It had not been ploughed up. It was the hard and beaten path.

Then there were corners in the field, not the path, but where they could not plough because of the rock. When the sun was up the seed was scorched. When tribulation or persecution arises the flesh gives up; it does not consider it worth while "enduring." It is the flesh that prevails here. In John 6 we get what corresponds to this. They said, "This is a hard saying," and they went back. When Peter is asked if he will go, he says "Lord, to whom shall we go?" He was shut up to Christ.

"Some fell among thorns." There you get the world. The Lord says, "The cares of this age" that is the first thing mentioned "and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things," or "pleasures of life." There are the three things mentioned in Mark and Luke. Lot and Abram both get rich by going down to Egypt, by unfaithfulness; they both came up with abundance; but it would have been better for Lot if he had lost all than to have been separated from Abram; he never had an altar after.

The good ground is divided into three classes, but all are fruitful. You know the story of John Newton! He had been writing about A B C Christians, and a young clergyman wrote to him, and said he had been testing himself by it and had found he was in the "C" class, the highest. John Newton wrote back and said there was one thing he had forgotten to mention, namely, that those in the "C" class did not know it. So, no doubt, those who bear an hundred-fold do not know it. It is quite different from what people generally think. If they fail they say, We are all unprofitable servants; but it is when you have done all you are to say it! So in Matt. 25, those who pleased Him were quite unconscious of what they had done. And the principle is the same for us.

The Lord makes all intensely individual when He says, "He that has ears to hear, let him hear" (ver. 9). All this should put us on our guard. There is such a thing as being fruitful "in every good work and word."

Verse 10. "The disciples came." We are let into secrets of His. It was the rejection of the King that brought out the mysteries of the kingdom. It is not according to what we get in the O.T. with its glorious accounts of the kingdom. They await fulfilment. We are, as John says, "in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." He is still the waiting One, waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. The Lord has put us in the place of friends if we think of ourselves in connection with ver. Others were not so favoured. Kings and prophets and righteous men had desired to see what the disciples saw, and had not seen it. So the disciples were marvellously blessed, but yet not so blessed as we are. The Lord told them "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now," which shows conclusively that after the Holy Ghost should be given the saints would be in a far better position than even these disciples.

In the end of Luke 10 you get Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, and hearing His words. The Lord was Martha's guest, but Mary was the Lord's guest, and He approved that it should be so. In Luke 11 you get the Lord teaching His own to pray. Martha's service was all right in John 12. There was no grumbling as to Mary there. The grumbling was on the part of Judas. In both cases Mary has not a word to say, but the Lord has a word for Mary. I suppose we have principles for believers in ver. 12. As the Lord gives us any truth, and by His grace we make a right use of it, He will trust us with more. You get the thought of making the right use of it in Prov. 11, "There is that scatters and yet increases." If a person just thought of himself and ate his morsel alone that would not be making a right use of it. We must receive before we can give out. If God has given you something which has been a blessing to your own soul, and you impart it to a brother or sister, you make it more intimately your own.

That is very solemn in the end of verse 12, "Whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has." In another place it is "seems to have." It is possible to have that which will be taken from you. Where the Lord speaks of the talents, the one that had one talent is a servant of the Lord Jesus, yet it is taken from him and given to him that had ten. The talent that he had was light possessed; men are responsible for the light they have.

Verse 13. The Lord takes the place of the rejected One, and because of His rejection there is judicial blindness. That is why He refers to Isa. 6. And if you take this in Matt. 13 and the reference in John 12 and again in Acts 28, you will see they refer to Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and it is Trinity in Unity. "Holy, holy, holy," that is Trinity. "Whom shall I send?" there is Unity. "Who will go for us?" there is Trinity. Here in Matthew it is spoken of God; in John, of the Son; in Acts, of the Holy Ghost.

Then verse 14 shows that Christ was rejected in face of the most positive evidence; they shut their eyes: hence judicial blindness, and now the parables. In a parable, where the key is not given, there is obscurity; but when the key is given, it is a most blessed way of conveying the truth.

As the verses that follow have been already anticipated, we will go on to verse 24. The great thing is to distinguish between the church and the kingdom. When these are confounded you fall into terrible confusion. I turned up a lot of writers out of curiosity, and could not find one, outside those known as "Brethren" who were clear about this. They confound the church and the kingdom. Take, for instance, the Church of England, which uses this parable of the tares to justify their not putting away from them the wicked, they are to remain! overlooking the Lord's own interpretation that "the field" (wherein both wheat and tares are to be tolerated), "is the world" (vers. 38) not the church!

The kingdom takes in Christendom. You could not say a Mohammedan or a Buddhist was in the kingdom; but Roman Catholics, Nestorians, and Greek Church, etc., are all in the kingdom. It would be terrible to suppose (and utterly opposed to the teaching of the Epistles) we are "to let both grow together" in the church! "Do not ye judge them that are within?" "Put away from among yourselves the wicked person" (1 Cor. 5). In 2 Timothy it is a great house and utter confusion, and things so bad, that not being able to "put away" the wicked person as was done in Corinth, we are responsible to purge ourselves out. You cannot put yourself out of "the house," but you can purge yourselves from vessels to dishonour. There will always be some who call on the Lord out of a pure heart, till He come.

The first parable which we have looked at is general, and takes in the Lord's ministry here. This second parable is a similitude of the kingdom of heaven. Here we get rather the effect of the good seed of the first parable. The good seed there was the word of the kingdom; the good seed here are those who have been affected by that word. It shows that where God is working, Satan is working too. It was so in the garden, and throughout scripture Satan is seen at hand working also. So here. Saints failed; it was a time of unfaithfulness. "Men slept." The enemy sowed the tares among the wheat, and went his way. Satan had done the mischief, and knew it would spring up; he knew the result. The Apostle could say in one of his earliest epistles, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." The enemy was at work there.

"But when the blade was sprung up, etc." when it was making progress, then what the devil had done was made manifest. This is explained by the Lord Himself when the disciples were within. The darnel began to be seen in the Acts of the Apostles. I don't suppose we could rightly say that Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 were the devil's children. Their's was "a sin unto death" (1 John 5:16). But in chap. 8 Simon Magus gets in. There was no work of grace here; he had neither part not lot in the matter, though he had been baptised.

No one could dogmatise, but God use angels providentially, and the tares have to be bound in bundles to burn, and it is surprising the number of unorthodox sects that have sprung up of late years. I mean those that are fundamentally wrong. It is difficult to imagine a true christian being ensnared by them. How many "bundles"! They all deny the divinity of the Lord, and eternal punishment — these evil sects that have come over from U.S.A. Those two evils often go together.

Now we come to the explanation of this. They grow together till the time of harvest. The servants propose to root them up. The Master says, "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye gather up the root with them." These bundles will not be burnt till the church is gone. The bundles will be left all the darnel; but others will be left here too, that will be gathered into the garner, — not the heavenly garner, but the earthly one. We see this typified in Lev. 23:22, where the corners of the field are left after the feast of weeks and before the feast of trumpets. God will have some here beside the darnel, after the church is taken up — the poor Jew and the stranger Gentile. These are they of whom the Baptist speaks (Matt. 3:12), "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat into the garner." It is the earthly garner of the millennial blessedness. It is chaff there, not tares, that is burnt with unquenchable fire; the Lord will do that.

Verse 31. The mustard is called the least of all the seeds — I suppose, of what are cultivated. The growth here is abnormal. Mustard seed in nature never becomes a great tree. When they see this natural development as if divine and perfect, any simple soul can see the growth to be abnormal. We shall have that explained more fully by and by.

Verse 33. Leaven means evil, and it was excluded from the sacrifices. It had a place in the meat offering of Lev. 23. because it is recognised that there is an evil nature in those who form the church, and there was a sin offering to meet it. There was no leaven and no sin offering with the sheaf of first fruits. The leaven was not burnt on the altar. When we come to the N.T. and the Lord's own teaching, He tells us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, and of the Herodians. That of the Pharisees was self-righteousness; of the Sadducees, infidelity; and of the Herodians, worldliness. Now people take the leaven here to mean the gospel, that will, as they say, leaven the whole world. Now meal is always used in a good sense in scripture, but this is not the case with leaven. So it is turning it upside down to make the meal profited by the leaven. In 1 Cor. 5 the leaven is moral; but the leaven of Galatians is doctrinal evil, and I rather think that is the thought here — false doctrines mixed up with the food of the household.

Verse 36 is very significant. Jesus goes into the house. These disciples want to know and to understand the parable of the tares. We get blessed encouragement, however small we are, to look to the Lord. "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." I do not know if the Lord had it before Him as we read in Isaiah 28:7, "They also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way." Wine and strong drink cause excitement; as a result they err and they stumble. But we may go on to verses 9 and 10, of Isaiah 28.

It is plain enough from verse 38 what the field is: it is not the church. It is the work of the Son of man to sow, so it is what has been produced by the seed of the first parable. The tares are the children of the wicked one. Verse 41 is very different to the thought of the Lord's coming for His church. For then He comes Himself with a shout, but here His angels will gather His elect from the four corners; when He comes for the church we shall be taken away and all the tares left behind. The Christian is told to pray for his enemies. James and John did not understand what manner of spirit they were of when they wanted the Lord to call down fire on the Samaritans. It was perfectly right for Elijah to do so, but the Lord had not come now to judge the world. Israel's blessing is always connected with the judgment of their enemies; not so ours. We shall leave them all behind.

In every place in the N.T. where it speaks of one being taken and another left, it is, one taken for judgment, and one left for blessing. It will be true of course, that if two people are together when the Lord comes for His own, one saved and one unsaved, He will take the saved and leave the other; but everywhere in scripture where the phrase is used, it is one taken by judgment, and the other left for millennial blessing. When we come further on and find the Son of man dealing with the nations, it is sessional; and I do not think those judged there will appear before the Great White Throne; the Judge has already pronounced their final doom. So it may be here. Only it is the angels that do the work here, there it is the Son of man Himself.

We must never for a moment think that the judgment has to do with deciding whether a soul is saved or lost. That is settled in this life. At the Great White Throne there will be a right apportionment of judgment in perfect righteousness, and every one will have his mouth shut.

"There shall be wailing"; rather "the weeping and the gnashing of teeth" (verses 42, 50). The two words "weeping" and "gnashing" of teeth bring out different characters; I do not think both will be necessarily true of each individual.

Verse 43. The "Father's house" (John 14) is pure grace, yet there will be those who shall sit on His right hand, or on His left: He will give it suitably. He says it is not mine to give except f to those for whom it is prepared. We must remember the church will have been removed and all the tares left behind, so the angels do two things here, bind the tares in bundles, and then take them out of the kingdom. There must be moral fitness to be subjects of His kingdom. John the Baptist was sent to preach the baptism of repentance in order to prepare them.

The angels are elect and holy. This shows that some of the angels that were created were preserved from falling; that was their election. Whereas the human race fell in its federal head, so that all are fallen. The church is an Object of great interest to the angels. By it they learn the manifold wisdom of God. That is why brothers take their hats off, and sisters keep their bonnets on, in the assembly. 1 Cor. 11.

The Lord Jesus was in the world, and the world knew Him not (John 1:10). And it says, "the world knows us not," but when He is manifested we shall be also (1 John 3:1-2). Our life is hid with Christ in God; the thought here is not our security, but that the world knows not our life. In spite of all the confusion the Lord knows them that are His, and He never mistakes. The obverse side of the seal is, "Let everyone that names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." All the saints will "shine forth" then. These will take in others besides the church. All that have part in the First Resurrection will have their place in the heavenly department of the coming kingdom.

In the pearl (ver. 46) we see the unity and beauty of the church. "Treasure" (ver. 44) may be composed of all sorts of things, and of coins of all kinds. The treasure was in obscurity, "hid in the field"; by and by it will be in manifestation. "For joy thereof he goes and sells all that he has" — gives up everything. The field is the world. Think of a sinner buying the world! Yet that is how the verse is usually viewed No, for our sakes He became poor. It is important to see that the world is bought. The christian is both bought and redeemed. This may help to explain "denying the Lord that bought them" (2 Peter 2:1). If I am bought, I change my master, but when redeemed I change my status. It is love that makes one "a bondman" afterwards. The pearl was very attractive to Christ. It is wonderful to think He surrendered everything to get it! How the figures used of the holy city tell of magnificence! "Every several gate was of one pearl." There is unique beauty in the pearl. It is "the church glorious" which He is going to present to Himself, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, separate from everything offensive to God and Himself. "The merchantman seeking goodly pearls" supposes one able to discern their value and to appreciate them. This shows His appreciation the price He paid to get it.

Verse 47. This next parable does not suppose a work of grace in every soul gathered into the net; yet the net only gathers a small portion of the fish in the sea. How foolish then to think of the whole world being converted in face of so plain a scripture to the contrary. The vessels then would represent companies of saints, nothing to indicate different sects. Those who think that the church must take in every respectable parishioner because tares and wheat must grow together till the harvest, cannot understand this at all.

The devil's work grows apace and becomes great. If you see ecclesiastical greatness it is Satan's work. Anything that is great now in days of apostasy cannot be of God. Thus you see a little grain of mustard seed becoming a great tree, abnormally. Then the leaven spreading everywhere. But in this treasure there is nothing great to human eyes; and I suppose the greatest pearl that ever was could be held in the tiniest infant's hand.

The net gathers of every kind. But they are the same ones that cast the net that discriminate and cast the bad away; it is not the work of angels which is' judgment. It was perfectly right for, Simon Magus to be told the truth by Peter. God hates mixture, all His word shows us that. Ox and ass plowing together; and all the mixtures tolerated by man, are abomination to Him, and so are mixed principles too. It is the end of "the age" of course in ver. 49.

Verse 51. The Lord corrected the disciples in John 16. So with all their boast they could not stand much. If the Lord's love to them was not greater than theirs to Him it would not stand. Of that we may be confident.

Verse 52. The scribes were the learned people; the word nearly always conveys that thought. His treasure is the word of God. Things of this life are not our own (see 1 Tim. 6:17-19). We get many scriptures that apply in that direction — what the Lord said to His disciples. Peter said, "Behold, we have left our own, and followed Thee. And he said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, there is no man that has left house, or parents, or brethren, Or wife, or children for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting" (Luke 18:28-30). If we went to the O.T., what can be plainer or more simple than "He that gives to the poor lends to the Lord." Will He be a debtor? Where could you get better interest, or lay it out to greater advantage? But "He that sows sparingly, shall reap also sparingly," and Prov. 11 is very helpful in that direction.

"Things new and old." The kingdom is old, but the mysteries of the kingdom are new. The truths about the kingdom are found in all the O.T.

Verse 54 corresponds with what occurred in the synagogue of Nazareth the first time after He was anointed. They wondered at His words of grace, and said, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" No: only legally. Melchizedec typified the Lord, being ungenealogised, and having a priesthood that was not successional, but living in the power of an endless life, a priest for ever. The Roman Catholics oppose it in every way, and no doubt numbers of christians do too, that anyone else was born of Mary, and they say that the Jewish way of reckoning was to count cousins as brethren; but Acts 1:14 is as clear as anything, and that is the last time we get Mary spoken of. She thence disappears. What a marvellous thing this if she was to have the place the Roman Catholics give her! They say that James the son of Alphaeus, and Jude the brother of James, were His brethren. But His brethren were there as well as these two, James and Jude. And it is His brethren who wrote the Epistles that bear their names, but they did not call themselves so.

Matthew 14

1918 166 "At that time" connects with what had gone before. It is a wonderful chapter. For we have a picture of what will be after the church is gone. In chap. 13 we had in the mysteries of the kingdom a picture of what is now, while the Lord is in heaven.

But here in chap. 14 we get a picture of what is to be in the future. There is the wicked king Herod, and there will be a wicked king in the land hereafter. In connection with him there will be apostate Christendom represented by the wicked woman of Rev. 17, 18. We see also a wicked woman here in our chapter. In Rev. 11 there are two witnesses killed, and the wicked woman who rides the beast is held responsible for it (Rev. 17:6). So here we have God's faithful witness slain, and Herodias urges it, as Jezebel urged on the weak Ahab. Then you get in Rev. 12 a remnant of people that flee unto the wilderness, and are miraculously fed for three and a half years, the last half of the week. Here you get five thousand fed in the wilderness. Then you get them on the sea, toiling in rowing, making very little progress, and they had only got half way across, which evidently sets forth the great tribulation of the future. There are some specially marked out in Daniel, and Peter seems to represent them.

"For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened," said the Lord. and "When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" This does not mean that there will be no faith, but that things will be so bad that even saints of God will despair of deliverance. It was when Peter was beginning to sink that the Lord stretched forth His hand and caught him. They then worship Him, and day breaks. Is it not a wonderful picture?

Having now seen the dispensational side of it, let us look into some of the particulars.

Herod's conscience was at work. It was Herodias who had got him to put John into prison. Herod's father was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, and the most bitter persecution often comes from those who are connected with the people of God.

I don't think you could get a more striking fact, as witness of the honesty of the writer of this Gospel, than, after such a cluster of miracles that proved the mighty power of this wonderful King, we are told that His immediate forerunner was allowed to languish in prison, and afterwards to be beheaded. We know the Lord could have delivered the Baptist, as He did Peter afterwards, but it was all permitted of Him in divine wisdom. John was a faithful witness, and Herod feared him, but John did not fear Herod, though Herod was the king. John was straightforward and outspoken, Herodias was the granddaughter of Herod's father; there was the prohibition of consanguinity in the Levitical law. Herod was evilly affected by Herodias, as Ahab was by Jezebel, and you hardly wonder but that it is intended that she should be representative of the wicked woman in the Revelation, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. God has shown us how He will deal with her. He will put into the hearts of "the beast" and the ten kings to destroy her. Herod feared the multitude. Messiah is of quick understanding in the fear of Jehovah, and He is the One who will destroy the "wicked one." Herod did not think of God; he thought of his own respectability. For his oath's sake he would not reject her. Only think, a moment's sinful gratification, in seeing the dancing — immodest dancing — of that girl; it appealed to the man's lust, and he is so carried away by it he makes this rash vow! Ahasuerus only promised half his kingdom, Herod pledges himself to whatsoever she should ask. This is the convenient season — convenient to Herodias — to get rid of God's faithful witness. The charger was a large deep dish, only think of it! It is an awful picture of a woman so hardened. Sin is not only degrading but hardening. What a spectacle these two women present

His disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus (verse 12). What an example for us to tell Jesus all our circumstances of grief and sorrow! "When Jesus heard, he departed thence," etc. There He was in all His ability to meet their need, and to respond to faith. Here He is — do not let us hinder Him by our unbelief. The multitude itself how little to be relied on! They followed round the north end of the lake. The applause of the multitude is most unreliable. There is a hindrance to faith, according to John 5; how can ye believe "which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that comes from the only God."

If there were a great multitude there would be sure to be many needing healing. This was the first time they had known a multitude fed. It is remarkable that this is the only miracle related by each of the four Evangelists. Psalm 132:15 seems to refer to this, "I will abundantly bless her provision, I will satisfy her poor with bread." The distribution to the disciples disappears from the better text in John 6:11, but is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke.

This is a precious gospel subject. Of course the One Who produces the grape could produce the wine at Cana, and the One Who produces the corn can produce the food, and does so here in a quicker way. It is the same One the great Provider — whom Paul spoke of in Acts 14:17: "In that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." He is the bountiful Provider of Psalm 145 (the only Psalm which is entitled 'David's psalm of praise') "Who satisfiest the desire of every living thing" (vers. 16).

Verse 19: He "blessed" (Matt., Mark, Luke), He "gave thanks" (John). The word is not quite the same as "gave thanks" but is allied to it. It is the same One Who gave the manna of old Who is feeding them now. The multitude, in John's Gospel, wanted to disparage the Lord, and said, Moses fed many more than five thousand. But it was His Father Who gave them the true Bread: There is the "living Bread" in the same chapter and the "Bread of God," the "Bread that gives life unto the world" — the world-wide aspect of the gospel.

The Lord would have them at ease in His presence. He would have them recline. John tells us there was "much grass" in the place, and Mark speaks of "the green grass."

In the presence of the Lord there is never any lack. It is an awful thing for men professing to be teachers of the Word, to despise a miracle, and seek to get rid of it in the terrible way they do. Are not we ourselves witnesses of miracles, and is not our conversion the greatest miracle of all?

How blessed to know there was so much more at the end of the meal than at the beginning. But how sad to doubt Him!

Leviticus 10 gives us the failure of the priesthood; Numbers 10 the failure of the leader. After showing in chapters 9, 10 that God would be their Guide and all were to be in subjection to His will when the cloud started, now in verse 31 Moses says to Hobab "Thou knowest … and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes." It is indeed sad, and Jehovah resents it.

The multitude sent away (ver. 22) would seem to refer to the mass of the Jews in the future day, and those in the ship to the remnant. To be in darkness is not the path of a Christian. "He that follows me," said our Lord, "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The place of a Christian is that he is in the light. "If we walk in the light" — which is where we are now brought — our responsibility henceforth is to walk according to the light. "Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light, … proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord" (Eph. 5:8-10). But the godly Jewish remnant of a day to come will pass through this awful experience of having no light. Isa. 50:10 will be true of them. But it will be a necessary and appropriate experience for them to pass through the time of Jacob's trouble. Conscience needs to be ploughed up, and they will mourn, every family apart, even husbands and wives apart (Zech. 12:12-14). The case of Joseph and his brethren may illustrate this, and is instructive. Joseph's treatment of his brethren had the desired effect, and brought home to them their brother's anguish when they sold him. Judah was the spokesman then, and it is in Judah that the spirit of grace and supplication will be poured out. The ten tribes will not go through "the great tribulation" of Jacob's trouble in the land of Palestine, as will the two tribes, but will be brought "into the wilderness of the peoples." The rebels all purged out, then shall the house of Israel enter the land, and the two sticks shall be joined together, and so "all Israel" — the nation, shall be saved — not indeed every soul of Israel's race. The great mass will accept the antichrist, or beast of Rev. 13, and "the smoke of their torment rises up for ever and ever who worship the beast and his image." Compare Ezekiel 20, 36, 37; Rev. 13, 14.

The elements seemed all against them, and it was very trying. It was the fourth watch of the night, and they had been through all the other watches. But if He constrains them to enter into a ship He will take them through. They do the Lord's bidding, there is no hesitancy; but there must have been exercise. If they went in the only ship, how was He to join them? All this besides the tempest. The lake was only seven miles across, so it shows what a storm it was, and how little progress they were making that they got only half-way over, but His way is in the sea. Egyptian hieroglyphics represent impossibility by walking on the sea. Man cannot do it, rough or smooth. We need to remember this especially in Peter's case. Jesus rejoins them, and so He will hereafter. He will come at the fitting moment for the deliverance of His people out of all their troubles in the age to come. Here "they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear." One thing the Scripture shows us is that though we have not to do with angels, they have to do with us. They are innumerable, but "are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" And if a Christian seeks to enter into his heavenly inheritance he will have to wrestle with the wicked spirits in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). It is a matter of faith; they are there though we don't see them.

Verse 27: "Straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." What grace!

Peter would not venture without the Lord's word; and if lie had that he could do it in faith. What is really fancy is very often called faith. It is not faith unless we have the word of God for it. It was only a little word that Jesus said, "Come!" but Peter could and did act on it. And it seems as if he got pretty close to the Lord. There is wonderful encouragement for us here. He can enable His saints to do that which is impossible for flesh and blood. We can put the two together, "With God all things are possible and "All things are possible to him that believeth."

Peter had had a previous experience of the Lord in Luke 5. It was the last thing he wanted that the Lord should depart! but he had seen a little bit of His glory, and felt how unfit he was for it. Then also he had acted On the word of the Lord. And he was the one who, when some did depart, said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"

In one way we see a picture of ourselves here. We have been called out of the world to meet the Lord, and the path is a path of faith. "We walk by faith, not by sight." if Peter had walked by sight he would not have taken one step. And we are converted to wait for the Son from heaven, as the Thessalonians were, to go forth to meet Him. The failure was in that Peter took his eye off the Lord. Those lines are very sweet:
"But on Thine outstretched arm rely,
And fix on Thee a steady eye
Until all storms be o'er."
The wind had done its work. When Jesus got into the ship it ceased. He holds the winds in His fists, and the waters in the hollow of His hand. There is no cause for fear.

The Lord sometimes said to the disciples as He did to Peter, "Ye of little faith!" Great faith counts wholly on the Lord. It is very beautiful when the Lord says "great faith." He said it to the Syro-phoenician woman, but of the centurion "So great faith." He saw the glory of His person Who said "Light be," and "Light was." Here was the prayer, "Lord save me." Well, every saint of God gets brought to his wits' end. You find that in Psalm 107. "They are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto Jehovah in their trouble, and He saves them out of their distresses."

"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand," etc. Here was the immediate response of the Lord. He stretched forth His hand. When we look up to the starry heavens, and think what that hand has done, "meted out heaven with the span," — the hand of Omnipotence! How safe are those whom He holds! How satisfied we should be to be in that hand! And none shall pluck us out therefrom.

"If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and upbraids not," but He does upbraid for unbelief. Hosea said, "Israel shall say, My God, I know Thee."

I suppose as far as the dispensational figure is concerned, when the Lord returns to Israel, and those who, since the captivity have had "Lo Ammi" written on them, will, under the blessing of the new covenant, be His people and He their God, then blessing will go out to all the world. Take Isa. 60. It shows us there that things will be put right in the world when Israel has its place. The N.T. shows us the whole creation groans and waits for our manifestation (Rom. 8). We are unknown now. When He is manifested we shall be also, and all creation groans till then. But
"He'll bid the whole creation smile
And hush its groan."

"When He shall appear then shall we also appear with Him in glory." What a change will be then even for this scene! And the miracles which the Lord performed are samples; they are called in Hebrews 6. "The powers of the world to come." What the Lord did in a limited area will then be world-wide. The Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. That is quoted in Acts 2 from Joel to show those there that they ought not to have been surprised; it does not say it was fulfilled. The Spirit has been given, and He is still here. We are enjoined "to be filled with the Spirit," a very different thing to asking for Him to be poured out. They were right to wait for it before He came at Pentecost, but now He is here.

Verse 35 The people here, are those who in chap. 8, asked the Lord to depart. They had got wiser now — they did not want Him to depart. He is called in Haggai, "The desire of all nations." People are conscious that things are not what they ought to be, and they want some one to put things right. In that way they desire Him, though it may not be intelligently.

Verse 36 This is the character of the healing. When the Lord touched, it was a touch of power. Here it was the touch of faith, and the Lord always responds to faith.

"Made perfectly whole" — not half a cure. All will feel the power of His beneficent sway, even to the ends of the earth. The Lord, in the day of the kingdom, ever goes beyond our highest expectation.

Matthew 15

1918 We get the contrast between these highly privileged ones, the religious leaders of the nations, and the extraordinary case we have towards the end of the chapter. They made void the law by the tradition of the elders. The Lord did not discuss with them the outward washing. He went straight to the law. We are always safe if we have the authority of God's word for all we do; and what is true of the individual is true of the assembly. As far as the assembly is concerned the word of God is so written that whatever case occurs we need to wait on God for His mind as therein revealed. He has given light for every circumstance, but we are cast on Him for His mind about it. There is no cast-iron rule, but the need of exercise of heart and conscience. Have we the single eye? Then will our body be full of light.

"Honour thy father and thy mother" (ver. 4) is the first commandment with promise. Yet it would be a gross thing indeed to think that when a person is now left here to a great age it is because he honours his father and mother. A Jew was blessed according to his dispensation — dispensation of the law. A Christian is blessed with every kind of spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, for now is the economy of grace. Yet is there blessing attached to this fifth commandment. The apostle said to depart would be far better, but to "remain" to help the saints was "worth his while." The tradition of the elders diverted the honour due to the parents from the children, by the acknowledgment of the offerer's "gift." What would have been the parents' portion is denied them under the ostensible plea of a "gift" to God, in contravention of His law! Thus were the sons delivered from all responsibility to their parents by this tradition, making the word of God of none effect. It was the best possible case to bring their conduct home to them, for anyone can see the hollowness of such behaviour. It makes the word of God utterly void.

The prophecy of Isaiah justifies the Lord in His expression "Ye hypocrites." The Lord quotes the prophets. They say, "Thus saith Jehovah," but He never uses these words, for He is Jehovah Himself who speaks. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord on the heart. So the very thing they were doing was exposed and condemned by the prophets, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The worship God values is not of form, but worship "in spirit and truth." It should be a small "s" in John 4:23, but in Phil. 3:3 the accepted text is "by [the] Spirit of God." The Son is equally the object of worship with the Father. Rev. 5 makes this very plain. "He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father." "Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father; he that confesses the Son has the Father also." There is a twofold danger referred to in Col. 2, philosophy and ritualism. The safeguard is, "In him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," and "Ye are complete in him," to the exclusion of everything else.

In verse 10 He calls to Him the multitude, and speaks to them in such plain words that one would think they would be the ones to be offended; but we are told that it was the Pharisees or religious leaders who were offended. Then the Lord speaks still more plainly. These people would compass sea and land to make one proselyte; but what was it all worth if there was no work of grace in the soul?

We have God's grace and God's sovereignty in verse 13: "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up." The Father's name is always connected with grace.

Each of us ought to realise that nothing worse can happen to us than to be left alone. If God gives up a soul, it is all up with it. In Romans 1 we read that "God gave them over to a reprobate mind," as they did not approve to retain God in their knowledge. And if God leaves us alone for a little while like as he did Hezekiah, it is to teach us a lesson. But oh, is it not far better to learn it in communion!

You would not get expressions like these unless there had been determined and continual rejection of testimony. We must connect this with chapter 12. The Pharisees are the opponents of a living Christ; the Sadducees figure more in the Acts, as against a risen Christ.

"Blind guides," they knew not whither they were going. John shows us that. So with all their pretension they were blind. They ask, in John 9. : "Are we blind?" They were assuming to be guides. The language means that there is an awful end for those under their influence. It is plain enough, though Peter calls it a parable. We are slow to believe that which is against us. It is a mercy to have grace to welcome all the word of God, even that which exposes us and shows us our danger.

Verse 16 is a rebuke. "Are ye also yet without understanding?" There was nothing ambiguous in what the Lord had been saying. It shows here that man has a radically bad nature, and the evil is not from without, but from within — from the heart. But the heart can be purified. Peter puts it beautifully in Acts 15. "And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith … but we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they," because it is all grace. I don't think we could scripturally say that God has given us a new heart. It will be true for Israel by and by, as says Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:26). "When it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." Then shall they say in the language of Isa. 53, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." But we have a pure and holy nature — a new birth. It is not cleansing by blood that the Lord spoke of, in John 13, when He said "Ye are clean every whit," but cleansing by water — the new birth. "Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). I have an old nature as bad as ever it was, but I have a new one which is holy. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

"Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts" (ver. 19), Evil thoughts condemn everyone. Paul found that out as to himself, He had not known lust he says, save by the law. What Paul writes to Titus would come as near this as anything. A converted Jew writing to a converted Gentile says, "For we also," — I Paul, and you Titus — "were afore time foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." The man that had been externally right learned that he was the chief of sinners. It means this, that if he is chief — and it is as an inspired writer that he says it — the door is high enough and wide enough to admit anyone that comes up. Our only deliverance is "by death." "In that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." That is the only way. Then the heart wants something. And, thank God, we have an Object practically to deliver one from one's self.

Verse 22: The Canaanites were devoted to destruction, and if Israel had been faithful, they would have been exterminated; so the very presence of this woman proved their unfaithfulness. This extermination was not allowed to begin until the iniquity of the Amorite was full, for God never judges unripened sin. God's judgment had been poured out on Tyre and Sidon; they had been exceedingly guilty. This woman had not an atom of claim on Him. It is being shown here that the time of the formal Jewish worship was to be set aside, and grace would go out to the Gentiles. She was nationally outside the pale of blessing — without Christ, an alien, a stranger, hopeless, and without God (Eph. 2:11-12). So though the middle wall was not yet broken down she yet obtained mercy. "Son of David" is connected with promises for Israel. As Gentiles there are no promises for us. But we have Christ. The gospel is not promises. It tells of a performance. The Spirit of God clearly shows us, in Rom. 4, the distinction between the way Abraham got the blessing through its promise and his belief of the promise, and the way of our blessing which rests on an accomplished work. As believers we have promises, and they are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus.

The case of this Syro-phoenician woman is no doubt an extreme case, taken up in contrast with the religious people in the beginning of the chapter, to show His judgment on them, and His grace to the most unlikely and unworthy. And then to have her daughter demon-possessed! We sing
"Jesus never turned away
When a sinner sought His aid;
Jesus never answered Nay!
When request to Him was made."
This is the nearest approach to it. I think the disciples wanted the Lord to give her what she asked, for they were annoyed at her importunity, and could not understand the Lord's not granting her request. "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" was not said to her but to the disciples. Take the case of the woman in John 4, where we have great ignorance, and see the Lord's wonderful grace and patience in leading her on. So' here, till she did Him homage, and cried, "Lord help me." It was a real cry. The Lord always responds to need and to faith. She knew Him to be "Son of David," but she also knew Him to be more than that; she knew Him to be "Lord." A gracious soul feels himself to be as did Mephibosheth — "a dead dog"; or as the writer of Ps. 73, "a beast before Thee."

The more spiritually minded one is, the more one realises one's ignorance in His presence. Grace taught this woman to take that place. It was not the blessing of those in covenant-relationship, but there was a portion for those outside, — the little dogs under the table. The Lord never confines Himself to a crumb! It were a miserable testimony to His goodness! He ever gives worthily of Himself. A little further down in the chapter there were seven loaves, a few small fishes, and four thousand men. If the loaves had been broken up among them it would literally have been a crumb for each, "but they did all eat and were filled." "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." That is how God gives.

That we have thus had before us, is the Lord dispensationally visiting the Gentiles in His grace flowing beyond the limits of Israel, and meeting this poor outcast, and that too beyond her expectation This is the day when we Gentiles are being blessed by His most wondrous grace.

But the Lord is going to visit Israel, and Galilee is where the poor of the flock are, so He turns aside there (ver. 29). He is presented in two aspects — the great "Healer" and the great "Teacher." What is seen here in a very limited sphere will be universal when He reigns, for these healings are the powers of the world to come. Read verses 1-6 of Isaiah 35. That is just what is suggested here, looking forward to the time when His gracious power will be used in healing, and verses 30, 31 correspond with Isaiah. It is hardly possible to make a mistake as to its application. These promises do not apply to us; though "all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, to the glory of God by us." But there is one promise that has a peculiar place for us. "If I go … I will come again, and receive you unto myself." "Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." And the promise is, "I will come again," for it goes on, "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb. 11:36-37).

It is well to notice the difference between this miracle of feeding the four thousand and that of feeding the five thousand which we have had before. The latter is the only miracle recorded in all the four Gospels. That alone should arrest our attention. There are features common to both miracles, but we should notice more particularly their peculiarities. In the former twelve baskets were taken up; in the latter seven, but these seven are of larger capacity. The former were hand baskets, the latter large ones, such as Paul at Damascus was let down in. Twelve is the administrative number. The Lord in this miracle begins with Himself and His compassion. Seven represents completeness, and is quite distinct from twelve.

I was struck this week with that word, "This man receiveth sinners" — "receives favourably," "welcomes." It also means to "await," or "expect." It is used fourteen times, and if you will trace them you will find that they convey also this meaning of "waiting for." How He awaits the woman at the well !

"I will not send them away fasting." Is it not touching? It speaks of His own heart, of Him who, as testified in the Psalms, will satisfy her (Zion's) poor with bread fully.

The Lord said to the woman at the well, "If thou knewest the giving of God!" This is that which captivates the heart. What a poor thought some have of Him, that you have almost to drag a blessing out by earnest prayer! He will be enquired of, of course, but it is His delight to give. Are we as delighted to ask in fervent prayer?

Verse 33 shows us the littleness of their faith. We are very much like that. We forget. If we were constantly full of faith we should remember, as David also remembered his victory over the lion and the bear, when called to meet Goliath. If we remembered our past mercies — how our whole life has been a miracle of love, we should not forget so readily. We used to sing
"Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me quite through."

What are difficulties to our blessed Saviour? Is there anything too hard for Him? It was nothing new for Him to provide food for His people, Who had fed them for forty years in the wilderness.

"He gave thanks," (ver. 36). All that He did was perfect. We can eat and drink "to the glory of God." There was not one in that company but was more than satisfied. So were the servants in the father's house of Luke 15. They had bread enough and to spare. It was hunger that brought the prodigal home. That parable was to show the Father's delight to receive. It was he that ran, not the prodigal. It is well when the Lord can employ His disciples. The Lord can do without us, but He loves to employ us. He has made us for His own glory, saved us for His own glory, and employs us for His own glory. Seven baskets full speak of a completeness that will ever exist. Nothing is diminished by God's giving. There will always be completeness. He is no poorer by giving. "My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus." And there is a word left out there in our version, it should read "abundantly supply." He knows what to give, and what to withhold; but "no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." They took up much more than they started with. As the hymn says,
"None could have multiplied thus sevenfold
But He Who provided the manna of old."

Matthew 16

1919 195 "And the Pharisees and Sadducees came and tempting him asked him to show them a sign from heaven" (ver. 1). This brings out the blindness of these religious leaders. Were there not before their eyes irrefutable proofs as to who was there in their midst? There is much to lead us to believe that what they wanted was for Him to call down fire from heaven. This was the test given in Elijah's time. The one prophet of Jehovah on Carmel calls for the answer of fire from heaven, and fire comes down, and for the moment the people are subdued. By and by there is to be a false Christ presenting himself as the Jews' Messiah." Another shall come in his own name," said our Lord, "and him ye will receive." He will be a remarkable man, whose presence will be according to Satanic power and every kind of miracle and signs and lying wonders the devil's great masterpiece. One of his signs will be to call down fire. They were quite blind to the Lord's works of mercy. The man of sin will meet man's mind. I have not a doubt there will be something very attractive about him, for in the first book of Samuel, David is the type of the Lord, and Saul of the anti-christ. In the second book of Samuel Absalom typifies him also, and both Absalom and Saul were remarkable men for attracting the natural man man according to the flesh. There was nothing in Christ to attract the natural man;" When we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him," says the prophet. The outside covering of the tabernacle would speak of this. But when the eyes are opened He is the altogether lovely:
"Only those His glory saw
To whom Thou gavest sight."
"He came unto his own and his own received him not," but there were a few who beheld His glory, "glory as of an only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The Epistle in which He is introduced as the Eternal Life that was with the Father ends with "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John).

The signs of the times were far more distinct than anything in the sky, and yet they were blind to them. And the sign that would remain was the sign of the prophet Jonah — death and resurrection and going to the Gentiles. It is the message of Jonah, not the man himself. In verse 4 they are spoken of as adulterers, etc., because of their idolatry of old, though not now idolaters — the house was swept and garnished, the evil spirit having gone out. James, too, in his Epistle speaks of them in the same way in their guilty commerce with the world that had crucified the Lord of glory. Now the Lord leaves them. This is very solemn Nothing worse could happen to us than to be left to ourselves. "Whom the Lord loves He chastens." It is Jehovah here, in Heb. 12:5-6. In Rev. 3:19 it is the Lord Jesus Who says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." But we must never forget that the Lord Jesus is as truly Jehovah as is the Father, and is so addressed by God, as we learn from Heb. 1:10 "To the Son, He says Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever … And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth" (cp. Ps. 102).

Verse 5 indicates negligence, but still there was no ground for their reasoning how they should get the bread, "after what they had seen. But still we don't find the Lord working miracles for them. We have seen them rubbing the ears of corn and so providing for themselves. There is "moral" leaven and "doctrinal" leaven, and the general run of christians is more affected by the moral than by the doctrinal. If we are spiritual the contrary is the case. We find the leaven of evil in 2 Cor. 5:6-8. There was a lot that was carnal and worldly among the Corinthians; but among the Galatians (Gal. 5:9) there was doctrinal leaven, and the apostle writes far more solemnly to these than to the former. Then again, no one can excuse himself. We have an epistle specially addressed to a lady and her children. It is a very short one, but therein she is told, "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed, for he that bids him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John). The doctrine of Christ is what God has revealed as to His divinity and His humanity. If any one denies either, do not say "Good morning" to him, Nothing can be plainer than this is. A lady cannot excuse herself and say, 'I leave that to the brethren.' And the one that comes, even though he may perhaps have been used of God to her conversion, or that of her family, no matter! if he has gone wrong about the person of Christ, love in the truth demands this expression of our conduct to him. We must let nothing come into competition with the Lord Jesus, our great God and Saviour, Jehovah's Fellow.

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees was of a very solemn character. The Pharisees were guilty of adding to His words; the Sadducees of taking from them. The Pharisees were the ritualists of that day, and the Sadducees the rationalists. These people that were ready to tear to pieces others of opposing camps were united in opposing Christ. The Lord, how perfect! Is it not blessed to see how perfect, so patient and so gracious? He tells them of the failure in their faith. How slow they were to gather up His mind: We may say this (though it may seem strange to say it) that if the world understands a christian there is something wrong with that christian. No one was so misunderstood as the Lord Jesus.

"Do ye not yet understand?" etc. (ver. 9). The Lord uses the same descriptive words as used in Matthew's record of the narrative. He does not call them simply "baskets" in each case. We have testimony in the word that a basket may be large enough to hold a man. The twelve baskets taken up were hand baskets. The disciples figure more in that miracle.

"Beware of the leaven" etc. (ver. 2 ), means Be wary of them. It is a danger signal. W. K. once said in prayer," Lord, save us from the evil that looks fair." Evil that comes in all its ugliness is not so dangerous, but it is that which looks fair that deceives. The Corinthian saints were responsible to purge out the leaven in their midst, but things had got so awfully bad when 2 Timothy 2. was written, that where the evil could not be purged out, one is responsible to purge oneself out — not out of the "house" for that would be to give up the profession of christianity, but into a corner, as it were, with those that call 0n the Lord out of a pure heart. God had reserved to Himself seven thousand in Elijah's day, and there will always be some that are true.

Ver. 13: Caesarea Philippi was the extreme north of Palestine. It was an important city, but it is its position that gives its significance here. It was on the confines of Israel, and the Lord was going to bring out His church, here revealed for the first time; and the church is not confined t0 Israel. As the rejected One of Israel, He now tells us that He will build a previously unheard of thing, "His church." And this began at Pentecost. It is not composed of Jews only, but of Jews and Gentiles, baptized into one body by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.

Ver. 16 He is Son of God as born int0 the world, in Ps. 2, as the Messiah or Anointed, and if He is denied His rights as Messiah you get His higher glories as Son of man in Psalm 8. And it is just so here. He is rejected as Messiah, and He is on the borders of the Gentile world and He reveals Himself as the Rock, the church's one and sure foundation.

"Who do men say that I the Son of man am?" The disciples would have opportunities of listening to the remarks of the crowd. Some said, John the Baptist, others Elijah, or Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet and the Lord was pre-eminently the "man of sorrows." "He says to them, But who say ye that I am?" Ever ready Peter answers," Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The Christ, the Anointed. Messiah in the O.T. and Christ in the N.T. both mean "Anointed." He was the true Anointed One, whether as Prophet, Priest, or King. Aaron was anointed as priest by Moses, David as king by Samuel, and Elisha as prophet by Elijah." Christ was the Anointed on earth, but in resurrection He is made both Lord and Christ. "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." A living Christ on earth is for the Jew; a risen Christ in heaven is for the christian, and this is far higher. He is not "our" King. He is the King of glory — that is supported by the word of God. And that which they put on the cross is perfectly true, He is "The King of the Jews;" He is "The King of Israel," He is "The King of the nations," yea, "King of the whole earth," — all to be manifested in His times by Him "who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords." When that day comes, "The Word of God" is Himself revealed as King of kings, and Lord of lords." We may, and delight to, speak of Him as indeed the King, King of kings, and Lord of Lords, but scripture does not present Him to us as "our" King. "King of saints" in Rev. 15:3 should be, as is well known, "King of the nations," or Gentiles. Compare Jeremiah 10:7, from which the quotation is taken.

Peter's confession is very important. In the corresponding portion in Luke, we do not get "Son of the living God," nor do we get any mention of the church.

It is very striking that in the early chapters of the Acts, the prominent figure is Peter, and though he is used here to witness of Christ as the Son of God, yet he never speaks of Him as such in the Acts. In Acts 4. the word" child" should there be' translated "servant." When Paul, however, is converted, "straightway he preached Jesus in the synagogue, that he is The Son of God, "and it is he who brings out the truth of the church. The church existed from Pentecost, but the doctrine of it was not made known then, but later, for to Paul was revealed the mystery that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and a joint body and fellow-partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel, though it does say, God "added together the saved" (Acts. 2:47), and this was" the church" (Acts 5:11) or "assembly." The literal meaning of the word "ecclesia" is "called out ones." It may be used of "the assembly in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) or of others (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but in every other occurrence of the word in the N.T. it is rightly "the church." We are "called out ones," and have been drawn to the Son, and "this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone that sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day," to be displayed in glory by and by. If you see Jesus as the Son, you see how everything hangs on His adorable person. When we are manifested in glory, and the same glory with Christ, then the world will know that the Father loves us as He loves the Son. "He shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be wondered at in all them that believed." They will see us in the same glory" It was in order that the world might know that He loved the Father, that the Lord went to the cross (John 14:31). The knowledge that Peter had was not acquired in a natural way. "Flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee" means that it was something received by the grace of God. Wherever the Father's name is mentioned it is in connection with grace; and here it is the Father acting in the sovereignty of His own grace — not at all intuitively in Peter.

There may be but little difference between Rock and Stone. It was almost like saying, I am the Rock, and you are a piece of the rock. Of this glorious Person here confessed, we read, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation." "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid … but let every man see how he builds thereon." But here the Lord is the builder, and all is absolutely divine. Although the Lord says, "my church," the usual expression is "the church of God," not "the church of Christ." Of course, this expression is equal to it "my church" — the Father's gift to the Son. You see your own security infinitely better if you are not occupied with yourself. "Gates of hades"! There is a life (the living God, and each stone a living stone) that death can never touch, Satan can never reach, and judgment never say anything to life in resurrection.

Ver. 19 Peter used the keys of the kingdom to admit the Jews in Acts 2, and the Gentiles in Acts 10. But the Lord never gave Peter the keys of "heaven," nor the keys of the church. The church spoken of here is perfect, but in the kingdom there are tares as well as wheat, bad fish as well as good. The kingdom of heaven only commenced When Christ died and went to heaven. It is now existent in mystery; by and by he will purge out of it all that do iniquity. At present no one may root them out, and we have to fall back on "Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, "The Lord knows them that are His."

It does not say "the key," but "keys," as will be seen by the cases above quoted in Acts; and the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was bound on them by Peter, while the Gentiles of Caesarea under Cornelius' roof fulfilled the other side. "Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." God dealt with Ananias and Sapphira in this world. Theirs was "a sin unto death." There is not only the grace of God which takes us up in our ruin, for eternal glory, but there is also God's government, and we must not confound the two. David's sin was put away that was grace; but the sword never departed from his house this was government. So also we have the same truth in 1 Cor. 11:30-32. We must go on day by day seeking to please the Lord, to be able to say with Paul," I do exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and toward men." This is our blessed place, and due responsibility.

We don't get any reference to the church in Luke's account, and so we see how that comes out in relation to the Son of God. It is very seldom that the Lord gives Himself away. Nevertheless, He does to the blind man in John 11, and to the woman also at the well of Sychar. The closing verses (21-28) of our chapter divides this Gospel into two parts. They had learnt He was the Christ and rejected as such; here He is the Son of man. He is the only One called "The Son of man" in Scripture. Ezekiel and others were addressed as "son of man," but never with the article. No one calls the Lord so, but He very often speaks of Himself as such. The thing is to believe on Him as Son of God.

The Lord had said there were blind leaders of the blind, and here were the religious leaders of whom the Lord must suffer many things (ver. 21).

Is it fair to gather from what follows that Peter? presumed on what the Lord had told him above? It shows indeed what poor things we are! Peter was a blessed man, but the Lord having made that communication to him, does he not seem to have presumed upon it? It does not actually say anything here about making atonement, but everything man did to Him was reversed by God. If they slew Him, God raised Him up. It is the same spirit witnessed in the garden when Peter cut off Malchus' ear; Peter would have stood between the Lord and His death. It is a lesson for us in several ways. He savoured not the things that be of God, but those that be of man. How quickly we get this after that wonderful confession" The Lord does not say to him," Get thee hence" as He did to Satan in the wilderness. The moral glory of that comes out here, every word in its place. I suppose it indicates that Satan was using Peter. The meaning of Satan is "adversary." In the wilderness he tried the Lord to the utmost extent by his subtlety, and he was defeated by the Saviour's obedience and dependence. So Satan left Him, but in the end he came back, and sought to overwhelm the Lord by terrors. It is based upon the work of the cross that it is done, but Satan will be bruised under our feet shortly. He knows it because it is so written. There is a saying among leading teachers that the first in order of revelation is the last in order of fulfilment. And the first announcement made in Genesis 3 — that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head takes us on to its final fulfilment when he is cast into the lake of fire. It shows that we have need to be on our guard. The Lord could detect Satan at once. On the ground of human reasoning, all Peter said was right, but we must beware of philosophy and what springs from the human mind. It was kindness on Peter's part, but — how was sin to be met, and our sins put away, if the Lord did not die? Paul desired for the Colossians when they were in danger of being led away by philosophy that they might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Here is Peter. He would like an easy path for his Master, but the Lord shows it was not an easy path for Him, and it will not be for those who follow Him. And this can only be in the power of God; we cannot do it in natural strength. We are very weak, but He is able to keep us even from stumbling. There must be the denial of self. But that is very different from advertised self-denial. It is the disciple who has to take up his cross, not the Lord's cross: He bore that alone. But each one of us has a cross, and it is a miserable unhappy thing if we do not take it up. But if we take it up we shall find that He will bear the heaviest end. We are not told to drag it along, but to take it up. If a thing looks perplexing and we don't know what to do, we may question whether our eye is single. But I think in times of difficulty, if it is made quite clear to us what we are doing is to please the Lord alone, it clears things marvellously. "Do I now seek to please men or God?" said the apostle. I have but One to please. How blessed!

We can see in various parts of the word how the saint is prepared by communion with God in private for that which is before him.

In the history of David there are three accounts that illustrate faith, hope and love. In Ittai we have faith," for he would be with the king wherever he was; in Mephibosheth we have "hope" — unshaven, undressed, he waited for the king's return; in Jonathan we have "love." I was thinking of Mephibosheth here; he was the follower of a rejected king, and we have to take up the cross and follow Christ. The path of obedience is the path of blessedness. There are paradoxes in scripture which the natural man cannot understand. The Lord was the man of sorrows, yet He was the happiest man that ever trod the earth. He could say "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places." And so we are "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." The natural man cannot understand it, but we know it experimentally. There would be naturally in each of us the tendency to look after our own welfare, just as the young:man who had heaps of riches, and whom the Lord told to get rid of all and follow Him. He went away sorrowful. Yet had he obeyed, he "'would have been a gainer. The opposite of

Mark 10 you see in Philippians 3. Here was one who could say, "Yea doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." The righteousness Paul speaks of there is looking forward to glory, being clothed with Christ there. The sufferings and the glory are connected. So here. It was so with the Lord Himself. In Luke 24 He said, "It behoved Christ to suffer and to enter into His glory"; but, Peter 1. tells us that those who wrote the O.T., "testified of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories (plural) that should follow." "If we suffer," or "endure" — going along with a rejected Christ enduring whatever comes we shall also reign with Him. Rom. 8 is plain enough too. How blessed to have grace to lay out one's whole life for Him, — time, talent, all given up to Him, having Him and His love so before one as to do it unconsciously, as it were. We want to think of His love to us, not of our devotedness to Him. In connection with this, I was thinking of what Paul says to Timothy, "Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life," etc. Wonderful! isn't it? That is what grace had produced, not boasting.

"What shall a man be profited if he shall gain the whole world" etc. (ver. 26)? No one has done that, the greatest only had a small portion. That is a striking word in Ps. 49. "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of their soul is precious, and must be let alone for" ever" (for so is the right rendering). None could touch that matter. How it shows the value of the soul! It is very seldom in the N.T. that you get the salvation of the soul spoken of. In 1 Peter 1 it is definitely stated, "receiving the end of your faith even the salvation of your souls"; and you get it in Hebrews, "them that believed to the saving of the soul."

The coming or manifestation of the Lord in the glory of His Father (ver. 27), is evidently the time of our reward. You don't get rewards at the coming of the Lord for His saints; that is all of grace. There is no such thing as rewarding some for their faithfulness by taking them away. It is all who have the oil, as in Matt. 25, who go in with Him to the marriage. It is all purest grace. The wicked will be rewarded as well, for the word reward is used in that sense also. Alexander the coppersmith "the Lord will reward." If it is a suffering path now He is not unrighteous to forget; everything done to please Him will not be forgotten when He comes to set up His kingdom.

When God told Abram about his seed being afflicted in Egypt four hundred years (Gen. 15), He said "Afterward they shall come out with great substance." How would they have got all the things that were used in making the tabernacle, unless they had "had great substance"? They could receive it all from the Lord, and the best thing we can do with what He gives us is to give it back to Him.

Rewards are always connected with the appearing. Paul says, "I have been running and the judge's eye has been on me in the stadium; I have been faithful and he has witnessed all. Nothing row remains but the crowning, and the judge will give the crown to me, and not to me only, but unto all them also who "love His appearing." Then has He His rights. It is not His coming for us. It is the same time as Rev. 22:12.

If we die we shall be raised in glory. Thus we shall have our glorified body before we meet the Lord in the air. You cannot associate grief or regret with a glorified body. We shall acquiesce in all that He does. We must not think that it is what is not right in our path that will alone be manifested, but we shall be manifested, all our being; and it would be a real loss to us were it not so."
"He saw us ruined in the fall
Yet loved us not withstanding all."

Matthew 17

1919 211 Matthew was not an eye witness of the transfiguration, nor was Mark, nor Luke; while John who was present, does not say anything about it, because it did not fit in with the purpose of his Gospel. Peter, James and John also witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter, and were nearer to the Lord in Gethsemane than the others, and they with Andrew are the ones prominent in the Lord's Olivet discourse (Mark 13). They formed the first quaternion of the twelve, who are always divided into three quartets. Moses and Elias are the two most representative men in the whole O.T. of the law and the prophets. They were not in their resurrection bodies. The Lord Jesus brought life and incorruptibility to light.

We have here the picture of the Kingdom. Moses and Elijah are in the heavenly department of the kingdom, and so represent the risen and glorified saints, but the Lord Jesus was "the first-begotten of the dead." It shows how enlarged our capabilities will be; we shall need no introductions there, we shall know even as we are known. However numerous the throng there will be an individual secret between each saint and the Lord. People are very diligent in seeking out parallel portions of scripture, but how few seek out the contrasts and the reason of them"

Ver. 7: It is more than "well pleased." Rather is it "In whom I have found my delight." Matthew is the only one who gives these words. They correspond with Prov. 8. "I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, and my delights were with the sons of men." Not in Adam, for he was not a son of man, so it was not in man as man before the fall; nor could it be in his posterity who shared in the fall, but in those in whom repentance is wrought, the excellent of the earth. And the scriptures would teach us that as to the expression "only begotten," we must not have human thoughts about it. In Gen. 22. Isaac is called thine "only son," though Ishmael was born before Isaac. It is a term of special endearment and position.

Evidently we get in this chapter what we are going on to, the reigning day of the Lord Jesus. We have had His rejection, and the disciples sharing in that rejection; here we have the reigning day. It is after "six days" in this Gospel and in Mark, and represents the complete circle of service. Then there is the day of rest after the service. Luke puts it "After eight days," that is, he counts the day in which the discourse was given, and also that in which the transfiguration occurred. Compare the different accounts of it by the three Synoptists.

Matthew says" And his face did shine as the sun." The sun is the emblem of supreme, authority, and that will belong to Him who is disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious. What we have here is the official glory of the Lord. If it is, a question of any office of the Lord, He gets no glory from the office, but the office gets glory from Him. All before Him typifying Him got glory from their office, as Aaron did; but not so He. All the glory that is so wonderfully displayed here is not reflected glory, it radiates from Himself. When He came down here He laid aside His glory. You get a little ray shining out in Gethsemane, overpowering the armed crowd; they fell back. There was a glory which could not be hid His moral glory — this must come out. It is impossible for any mind or any number of minds to imagine such a character as the Son of God. Take any book, any imagination, you cannot compare them with the Gospels; you can only contrast them, the difference is so vast.

When the Shechinah or the glory-cloud, filled the temple, the priests could not enter in, or work. No wonder the disciples feared as they entered into the cloud. The Spirit draws special attention in ver. 3, by the word, "Behold." It reveals that in heavenly glory there will be heavenly intercourse with Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us, the greatest wonder of all eternity the centre of two eternities, as the hymn puts it. The thought being got from the two cherubim, one looking one way and one another, but both gazing on the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat. So one eternity looked on to, and the other looks back on, the work now accomplished on Calvary. There is nothing like it"

The angels are learning in every dispensation. Now in the present time, they are learning by the church the various wisdom of God. When the reigning day comes, the devil will be bound for a thousand years, the whole creation that now groans will be delivered, the Lord Jesus will reign in unbroken peace. The curse removed, there will be wondrous increase, for instead of what we witness now, one species preying on another, "they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" says the prophet. Yet when the devil is let loose again, man who will have known the contrast between the Lord's reign, and everything that has gone before, will as readily fall, as at the beginning. Shall not the angels learn that man must be born again?

God's earthly centre in that day will be Jerusalem, and the nations nearest to her will be most affected by the glory which will be on it (compare Isa. 4), so those farthest away will be the most ready to fall. Assyria on the north, and Egypt on the south, will have special blessing, as it is written, "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of mine hands, and Israel mine inheritance." These are the nations adjacent to the holy land. When the nations were divided, as we get from what God was pleased to reveal in Gen. 10, we find seventy nations there, so it almost looks as if that will be the number of the nations in the millennium.

The great point in each Gospel is, "Hear ye Him." God has spoken to us by His Son, and we may put alongside that the end of 1 Cor. 14. "If any man is spiritual," Hear ye Him. In ver. 4 some old manuscripts read "I will make." Peter was willing to do it if there was consent from the Lord. There is nothing so jealously guarded in the whole of scripture as the person of the Lord Jesus. Some christians make everything of service, others everything of the church. But let us make everything of Christ, and then everything will fall into its proper place.

It is from what Peter describes as "the excellent (or majestic) glory" that this voice is heard. He stirred up the pure minds of his hearers by way of remembrance. No doubt he had told them orally, but it is given in permanent form as scripture for them and for us. If you do not pass on to others what you have, you suffer loss. "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth"; so it is wise to pass on what God gives us. Take one verse of scripture, and it is beyond the power of man to exhaust it, if even he should live to the age of Methuselah. There is a lesson for them and for us in it, "there was a cloud that overshadowed them." If you show me a christian who is very happy, it is one who makes much of Christ. When we get to the glory, not even it can "lasting joy impart." It must be Christ Himself. I suppose "they fall on their face" would imply they paid homage. They recognized they were in the presence of the glory that required homage, and they feared greatly.

It is very blessed to think of His touch! It is always a touch of power. John in Rev. 1, is overwhelmed. "He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not" etc. — everything is at my disposal! What strength to a soul to have a communication like that! John had leaned on His bosom, but the way in which he hides himself in "the disciple whom Jesus loved," shows how he appreciated that love. It is true of every saint that he is loved, but John appreciated it in a special way. And Peter recognised that John understood the Lord. So one can quite understand the affection that existed between these two.

I believe there has been a misuse of those words "Jesus only." We must not forget the Father and the Spirit. But when it is a question of putting others on equality with Him, honoured servants as they were, the Father soon puts it right. As the man Christ Jesus, He has the pre-eminence, and when we are conformed to His image, as we shall be, it is that He might be the "first-born among many brethren." Here the meaning is "They saw Jesus," not in company, but "alone," as Moses and Elijah were no longer to be seen.

We may here remark the order that we have in these events. In Matt. 16 the person of Christ is confessed by Peter, and then the Lord discloses to them for the first time His sufferings, and the suffering path of those who would follow Him, then the coming kingdom which is the time of reward. You could not think of rule over five or ten cities in the Father's house! The kingdom is on a lower level. We are children of God by new birth, sons by position; and being sons we are supposed to have the Father's character. You do not expect character in an infant, but in those who are grown up. John never uses the word "son," in his Gospel or Epistles, of any but the Lord Jesus. Where so rendered, it should be "children." We are" sons" by adoption, "children" by birth. Rewards are in the kingdom. I suppose the highest and greatest blessings are common to all the saints, and all of pure grace. In John 17 the Lord speaks of the glory which He has "given them," and that it will be manifested to the world, "that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." But the Father's love to Him is the measure of His love to the saints" "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory" etc., is infinitely higher; the world will not see that.

"Tell no man the vision" (ver. 9). Visions are often regarded by people as witnessed in dreams, or a trance, but it was far from that here. He had chosen three to witness it. Adequate testimony" We shall know all the saints above, but every one will be "conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the First-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).

"Elias truly shall first come" etc. (ver. 9 ). The Lord shows that this scripture in Malachi, is partially fulfilled, not completely. But He puts the responsibility on them. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias, and they had done unto him whatsoever they listed, and it had been permitted. It had stumbled John to be still kept in prison, but they were permitted to do this, and even to take the Lord's life. Yet He gave His back to the smiters; they could not have touched Him had He not permitted it. But when the time came for Him to yield Himself up, He did so. They were manifested, and what God is was manifested too. The Lord is seen in John's Gospel as the Master of the situation — as One Who is divine.

The truth told out in verses 14 and following, is, that the devil cannot be cast out by anything but the personal presence of the Son of God. No amount of preaching will put the devil in the bottomless pit, and you cannot have a millennium without that. Satan's judgment is sealed by the cross of Christ, and he knows it already; "And when he shall be cast down to the earth he will know that he has but a short time."

The word "lunatic" is used here in ver. 15. But there was an evidence of satanic power, and it was a very peculiar case. All demons are not alike. There are principalities, and powers, among the wicked spirits in Eph. 6, and there are the same differences among the elect angels in Eph. 3. We must not put them all down as exactly the same. Then there are demons at large, and there are demons who are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). But what numerical power Satan has! A Roman legion was from 3,000 to 6,300, and there was enough power in one man to destroy 2,000 swine It is a solemn consideration that in that which bears the name of Christ, doctrines of demons would be tolerated. Satan has four names. He is the "old serpent," the subtle one; the devil, the false accuser, slanderer; Satan, the adversary; the dragon, the persecutor. These are all brought together in Rev. 20:2.

Ver. 16: Very often the apostles were called disciples, those immediately connected with the Lord. Of course, "the seventy" whom the Lord sent forth in Luke 10. had power to cast out demons. There are some very important lessons for us here. I would not limit ver. 17 to the apostles. The Lord says "this kind"; there were demons more tenacious in holding on than others. According to Mark they thought the child was dead, the demon was so very reluctant to give up his hold. These disciples had cast out demons, and it would almost appear that this was an exception. It puzzled them that His name did not avail. Fasting implies denial of self. If self is denied, God can work. He requires a clear platform. In Mark 9. John confesses "we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and we forbad him because he follows not us," and the Lord showed him that no one could do miracles in His Name and lightly speak evil of Him.

Ver. 20: That is very solemn "because of your unbelief." We are unbelieving believers in many ways. What the Lord does is always worthy of Himself. This was a perfect cure. It is very blessed to put together what God puts together "With God all things are possible" and "All things are possible to him that believeth." I do not like to hear a saint of God speaking much of "my faith," and God answering it; leave out "my" faith. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." I do not hear the Lord once commending the disciples about their great faith, but He often tells them of their little faith. He never says anything to make us pleased with ourselves. It is rather striking that in the introductions to both the Epistles to Timothy the apostle speaks of faith "unfeigned"; so there is a feigned faith. A grain of mustard seed is very small, but an old writer says, "You bite it, and you will find some heat there!" So this grain of faith is true faith though it be but small. I suppose a mountain is a figure of that which looks immoveable, something with a wide firm base. Whatever it is, God can remove it. "Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." when God is going to bring back His people.

Speaking of Heb. 12, there are only two places in the N.T. where the word translated "godly fear" is used; in Heb. 5 "He was heard for his piety," and "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (chap. 12).

What a word, "Nothing shall be impossible unto you!" but in Eph. 3:19-20, we have something still more wonderful, "Filled into all the fulness of God," now. There is no limit there. It is not said that He is able to do above all that we can ask or think — for we are indwelt of the Spirit, and we must not impose a limit — but, "above all that we do ask or think." That is a wonderful word and humbling to us, showing what mighty privileges and encouragements we have, that we may lean our weakness on His might, that the power of Christ may tabernacle over or upon me.

Ver. 22: I think in Matt. 16:21 the Lord speaks of His earthly people, the Jews "Jesus began to show unto his disciples how he must go to Jerusalem," etc. Here, however, it is evidently the Gentiles that are in view "He shall be delivered into the hands of men." In Matt. 20:18-19, He combines the two. So you see we have the Jews, then the Gentiles, and then the two combined. "They were exceeding sorry." After the Lord was risen and "He opened their under standing" — that was a wonderful advance! But after the Holy Ghost was given it was more wonderful still. It may seem a wonder to us that when the Lord spoke so simply, they did not understand! He says, "In that day," when the Holy Ghost is given, "ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." They could not know that before; while in John 20 we read, "As yet they knew not the scriptures," which is more striking still.

Ver. 24: Peter thought" My Master is a good Jew," and every good Jew paid the temple tax; but we must be careful how we speak for the Lord. I think the Lord has given us His word in such a way as to keep us in dependence. If we have a case of discipline, and act on His word, and then when another case similar comes we copy what went before we may go wrong. God has not given us a book of rules as men do when they form a society. The whole book is our rule, but it is not a book of rules; we are ever in a place of dependence. The word "prevented" in ver. 25, is not a wrong translation, but the word has changed its meaning, and now means "anticipated." The Lord knew what Peter had done; twice He went to the temple, and called it His Father's house; twice He exercised His authority there — once at the beginning of His ministry, and again at the close. He was the One into whose hands all designed for the temple upkeep should have been put. It is very blessed to see that it is the same redemption for each individual (compare Ex. 30:12-15). With God nothing counts but Christ. Christ is needed for the vilest and for the best. In the sight of God all are alike, i.e., there is none good — they have all gone out of the way. Yet comparatively there are bad and good. In the presence of that which is absolute, "none good." The one title for all, is the "precious Blood"; the dying thief had the same title as the apostle Paul. We ought to learn in a practical way that however crooked a brother may be we are to remember he has the full value of the blood that has cleansed him from guilt. We have the same standing and that is unassailable, but our communion and enjoyment are affected by our walk. If our walk as children of God be careless, we become the subjects of the Father's discipline aid the Son's, that we should not be condemned with the world. There needs the constant washing of water by the word, but never a re-application of the blood which cleanses the sinner once for all and starts him on the Christian walk no longer a sinner, but now, and ever after, a child of God, and responsible to walk as such (1 Peter 1:13-23).

Matthew 18

1919 226 The Lord's claim to exemption as a son of the temple (Matt. 17:26), He was ready to surrender. These collectors of the tribute-money had no claim on Him, but He says to Peter, Lest we give an occasion of stumbling, "take and give the stater, (the double money) for me and thee."

In Philippians the Epistle that speaks of Christian experience we get "Let your moderation (or, yieldingness) be known unto all men." So in the chapter we are now entering upon, we find the principle of the new order of things that was to be brought in, looking at it dispensationally. The disciples were looking to Him as the One Who should redeem Israel (cf. Luke 24:21), and they were evidently thinking about themselves and the place they were to have in the kingdom. The Lord does speak of rewards in His kingdom, not indeed as motives, but as incentives. "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him." We have seen that the first time the church is introduced is in Matt. 16, where we have also the kingdom and the keys. The thought of the disciples was who should be the greatest. James and John wanted to sit, the one on the right hand and the other on the left, in the kingdom, and the Lord tells them that they with others shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The new order of things is the great point here, and the model is the little child. It is a lesson in humility. It is an awful thing that is exposed in Colossians, false humility. The sense of grace is that which produces humility. The entrance into the kingdom at all is by being converted and becoming as a little child (ver. 3). The actual little child is saved on the ground of redemption. To get into the kingdom at all is by becoming as a little child, not by reasoning or learning. A little child can see what is presented to it. Heb. 11:3 is very beautiful; it is not Understand and believe, but "By faith we understand"; we believe and therefore do we know.

As far as conversion goes you get a beautiful sample in the Thessalonians. They were poor, wretched idolaters when the word of God came to them, and in those that brought it, it was not in word only, but in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; and they received it not as the word of men but as the word of God, and you get here true conversion they turned to God from idols.

There is a word in 2 Timothy that will help us along the path of going down. Our version does not give the right thought, and it is important to see its bearing. "Remember Jesus Christ of the seed of David raised from the dead according to my gospel" (2 Tim. 2:8). "Remember Him raised from the dead." You see He will be the reigning One by and by, it is the suffering time, now but God will then reverse it all. So he could say "For this cause I endure all things" etc.

So verse 4 of our chapter would only refer to one conscious that he was a child of God, and if a child then an heir of God and joint-heir with Him Who is the appointed heir of all things, a marvellous thing! It is well to notice in connection with this that the Lord Jesus in His deepest humiliation is the man who is withal Jehovah's Fellow (Zech. 13:7); and in His exaltation we are spoken of as His "fellows" (Heb. 1:9; Heb. 3:14).

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself." This is just what we frequently find in scripture. The first man sought to exalt himself, and believed the devil's lie, who kept back the truth. But the Lord Jesus humbled Himself (Phil. 2 ). He went down lower than any, He goes up higher than any; in all things He must have the pre-eminence. That is the principle here, he who goes down shall be raised up. We have in verse 5 the one qualified to go down. It is very blessed for us to see each other in Christ. We must remember we are all equally precious, because the measure of God's love to each is the measure of His love to Christ. But while speaking of this humility, it is well to. turn to Rom. 12:16, which should read, "Go along with the lowly" (instead of "Condescend to men of low estate"). Those whom the Lord delights in are those who have low thoughts of themselves: they are "the excellent of the earth" — the repentant ones, those whom He associated Himself with at His baptism. They have the value of Christ upon them. Endeavour to get one to walk more becomingly, but never try to shake his faith — for that would be causing him to stumble.

It is a strong statement in verse 6, and ought to have its effect upon us. The offences come from the world (ver. 7); and we must link the two verses together. There is no place where the apostle expresses himself so strongly as in Galatians, and this is the only epistle he wrote with his own hand, and it cost him a lot to do so, as he says "Ye see in what large characters I have written to you." But he was so stirred up by their being leavened with evil doctrine. It is quite in keeping with other parts of the N.T., that evil doctrine is worse than immorality. You get immorality and worldliness in the epistle to the Corinthians, but these are not dealt with so severely as the evil doctrine in Galatians. Galatia was a province, so you have the expression "the churches" of Galatia. But when he speaks of a city, it is always the "church" there, not "churches."

Ver. 8: This is something in oneself that is a snare either to oneself or to others. If so one must not spare it, no matter how dear or how useful. Often hand and foot represent work and walk. Paul always illustrates a bad thing by himself, and he says, "I keep my body under and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27). This does not mean as some have said, cast from service, but the Lord will say to some "I never knew you." It is not a question of apostatising, but "I never knew you." So I may be a splendid preacher with grand results, but if I knowingly lead a sinful life, I have no right to take comforting scriptures to myself. You cannot separate saving grace from searching grace. "Whoever has been begotten of God does not practise sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot sin (or, "go on sinning," W.K.) because he has been begotten of God" (1 John 3:9 New Trans.). The Holy Ghost is the power against sin. This eighth verse of our chapter is a warning to each individual to keep himself.

"Take heed that ye despise not" etc. (ver. 10). You would despise one of these little ones if you acted with a high hand, and did not care whether they were stumbled or not. We should remember that by our meat we may destroy one for whom Christ died, — as far as our act is concerned. It is a case of stumbling. We do not get a great deal about angelic ministry in the N.T., but the little that is said is of great importance, though we must be careful we do not intrude into it. We have not to do with angels, but they have to do with us. They are innumerable, and everyone of them, however great or glorious (for there are differences among them, e.g., Michael the archangel) is engaged in ministering to the saints (Heb. 1:14). Another thing we ought to see, and every observant person can see, that there is a special providence watching over little children literally. I suppose the figure here is of those servants 0f the king's court who see the king's face and those who have this service see the Father's face. It is not only when they are heirs, but those who shall be heirs of salvation. Take Paul — he was a chosen vessel, and he says, "God who separated me from my mother's womb." So there is one who as an heir of salvation would be specially watched over. You see that again and again. Take Moses, in the O.T. The parents beheld by faith that he was a proper child, but he was committed to the waters of the Nile abounding with crocodiles, a place of fearful danger. And then it was so arranged that when Pharaoh's daughter came down, there were tears in his eyes. We know the beautiful history, and how he got all the benefit of the learning of the Egyptians. Very similar to Paul, who was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, not a fisherman of Galilee. He had special work to do as Moses had. But Moses' learning was not sufficient. The most important years of his life, the second forty (his life is divided into three forties) were spent at the back side of a desert feeding sheep!

Ver. 12 It is Christ's joy in showing saving grace — joy in His own grace. What God's holiness required, His own love gave. We must not separate John 3:14, 16. Our joy will be perfect, but His will be greater than ours; we have not the capacity to enter into all that divine joy is.

It is in grace and love that we are to tell our brother of his personal trespass (ver. 15). And the thought is that you must not mention it to anyone else, unless your visit has failed in gaining your brother. A public scandal that everyone knows of is not the thought here, but something private and personal. It is his good that you are after. There is perseverance in this loving course; if you are unsuccessful take two or three more; it is not at all a point of putting him in a corner. You get something of the same principle in Acts 6. Everything fails in the hands of man. You get the failure coming in in Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira acting a lie and telling a lie; then in chap. 6 you get the Grecians murmuring against the Jews. The Grecians were Jews speaking the Greek language, not Gentiles. Then the twelve tell them to choose out seven men of honest report whom they, the twelve, may appoint over this business. All the names of those chosen were Grecian names; it was grace. Paul did not tell Peter his fault "in private" for that was a public thing, and the Lord's name was concerned (Gal. 2)

"If he neglect to hear the church let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." It does not go farther than this here, but if the man remained unbroken, he might find himself outside the assembly. In Colossians we are told to walk in wisdom towards those who are without, so in Thessalonians. In 1 Cor. 5 "them that are without God judgeth." The man supposed here is thoroughly stubborn. Samuel says to Saul "stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." This man would justify himself and would not be won.

You get the assembly and the kingdom in Matt. 16, and you get them here; but here there is very clearly a "within" and "without." In chap. 16 it is more apostolic action, here it is the assembly acting. You get occasional instances in which binding and loosing are apostolic. In 1 Cor. 5 the apostle associated himself with the assembly. It is ever our duty to put away from among ourselves one proved to be "wicked." The apostle delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan. When a person is put away it is a proof that all discipline has failed, and the Lord's honour demands it, but restoration should be looked for and earnestly desired. There are some peculiar features in every case; no two experiences are quite alike. In the case of the incestuous man at Corinth the sin was "bound" on him in the First Epistle; in the Second Epistle it was "loosed." It will not be ratified in heaven if done in self-will and not in obedience to God's word. Alas! we have been more ready to put away, than to act in restoring grace.

Ver. 19 This is a wonderful encouragement to us to value united prayers, whether the meeting consist of two, two hundred or two thousand. Here it is the smallest number — "two of you." We go to other scriptures to learn that it must be according to His mind and the prayer of communion. There is nothing too hard, for it is "My Father." The Lord is here and acceptable prayer goes up to the Father by Him, and the answer comes down from the Father through Him. The Lord teaches us to go directly to the Father, as here, but there are things in His service about which we go to the Lord Jesus, as Paul's thorn in the flesh which hindered him in his service, and about which he besought the Lord thrice.

Some would limit verse 20 to the prayer meeting, but it is not so confined, for it takes in other meetings as well. In the Epistles to the Corinthians the assembly is opened out to us in its responsibilities and privileges, and 1 Cor. 5 shows us when gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus, (not the prayer-meeting only); it is the assembly acting. That is the only ground we can be upon; and whatever we may assume, we are not on that ground, if we knowingly allow evil to be associated with the Lord's name.

This is altogether a wonderful verse, let us look at it in detail "Where two or three" — divine limit; "are gathered" — divine separation; "together" — divine fellowship; "to my Name" — divine authority; "there am I" — divine presence; "in the midst" — divine centre. A very important verse indeed.

The varied ways in which scripture deals with the presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst, is very wonderful. There are two great gatherings for us, this one and "our gathering together unto Him (2 Thess. 2:1). We shall be all glorified with Him when this takes place. If a saint passes away his body will be raised in glory, but the meeting place is not here but up there. Now His blessed Name is our centre, and we need no other. There is never any failure on His part. The seasons we have gathered to His Name ought to be superior to any thing on earth. I heard a brother say a few days ago that he had been in conversation with a lady who had asked him with whom he was associated; to which he replied, With a few other feeble saints like myself who are seeking to cleave to the Lord. Her response was, 'How delightful!'

In Rev. 3:20 the Lord is seen outside the church in Laodicea. It had lost all sense of what is due to the Lord, though very keen on that which belongs to them as individuals. The three essentials of Christianity they did not possess. The beginning of the declension was in Ephesus "I have against thee because thou past left thy first love." The full result of this we see here in Laodicea.

Ver. 21: This evidently came as a surprise to Peter. It is clear enough that you must not put a limit to forgiveness. It is a question of personal trespass here, not of the Lord's honour. The Lord showed them that, if they rightly used the faith they had, the greatest difficulties would be removed. Then the danger would be to think one's self a very gracious person, but the Lord says, "Not at all, When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which is our duty to do.'" It says in Luke 17. "Rebuke him," so we are responsible to deal faithfully as well as graciously.

The next parable is a similitude of the kingdom, but brings out one's responsibility to another in carrying out this instruction. It shows the Jews were dealt with in marvellous grace, though no doubt the Gentiles treated them very badly. If the talent was silver and Roman, it would be about £2,000,000; if Jewish £4,000,000; if gold, between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000. "And he had nothing wherewith to pay," no power to put himself right after having contracted that frightful debt. I was thinking of what Nehemiah (Neh. 9:17) says about God. It comes to my mind as God's wonderful grace. Daniel says, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness though we have rebelled against him," but "to us confusion of face."

First of all you get righteousness. God is always righteous. He never does a needless thing nor an unrighteous thing. So in verse 25 we see righteousness. This man acknowledges the justice; he does not deny the debt, but casts himself upon mercy. "Have patience with me and I will pay thee all." The thought is that the justness of the claim is owned by the man. "Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him and forgave him the debt." In one aspect the Jews are loosed; in another they are in the city of refuge. It is a solemn lesson for us here. The world will often say, 'I will forgive, but I cannot forget'; that is not forgiveness at all. The Lord says here "from your hearts." The most severe charge against the Jews is in 1 Thess. 2:15. And yet this very people will fill the earth with fruit. The grace of God turns a man inside out. The grand lesson here individually is that no matter what unkindness, what injury is done us, it can bear no comparison to what we have done against God and been forgiven. "Even as God in Christ forgave you." Only think of a hundred pence £3 2s. 6d.) but mentioning that sum makes me think of the covetous eye of Judas, that ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, three times what we have here, and the very amount he went and sold the Lord for was nearly the same.

The Lord Jesus evidently gave Judas instructions to minister to the poor. The women from Galilee ministered unto him. That lovely vesture of the Lord woven throughout, I expect was woven for Him by one of these women in the love of her heart.

This man is unforgiving and cruel; he throttled his fellow servant. Merciless and cruel, he had no sense of forgiveness. If there is anything like a due sense of grace in our souls, it will make us patient and watchful over our spirits, for there is the expression of the same nature we all have. We ought to notice he did not call him a wicked bondman because he owed the debt, nor that He was wroth with him because of it; but when he was merciless and unforgiving he was wroth with him. It is exceedingly solemn. Better to be a poor heathen than to be in a nation that has the Bible and remains unconverted.

I thought we did not dwell last week on the fact that what we were looking on then is a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, and that does not begin till the King is in heaven. Now it is in mystery; by and by it will be in manifestation and power. Moses called Israel's attention to the privileged place they occupied no people ever so privileged as they, and Isaiah 5 brings before them their immense responsibilities consequent on their great privileges. So this parable shows the debt they incurred because of their responsibility; and in Matt. 21 we find their responsibility is far increased beyond what we find in Isaiah. Instead of rendering fruit they gave Him insolence and rebellion; and then when the Son came they cast Him out and slew Him. There we get the death of Christ, but it does not bring us to the full amount. On the cross the Lord prayed "Father forgive them." So Peter presented grace to them in the Acts, but they refused it and murdered Stephen, thus sending the message after Him, "We will not have this man to reign over us." That showed the immense debt the nation incurred. But looking at ourselves we can see what God thinks of an unforgiving spirit, for anything done against us can only be most petty compared with the debt we owe. We are brought into a place of immense privilege, and we are far beneath it if we cherish an unforgiving spirit. The Gentiles are brought in here in reference to the Jew; it is not a question here of their indebtedness to God, but they had served the Jew very badly. The forgiveness of this tremendous debt precedes what is required by them of others. In this chapter 18 we have been looking at the kingdom and what is required of those in it, and also of the church and the man who after all the efforts made to win him back stubbornly refusing to own his wrong, and is therefore to be treated as the heathen man, and the tax-gatherer. So it shows us what is required in both. We are dead to the world, to the law, and to sin, but not to nature.

Matthew 19

1919 241 So here in chap. 19 the Lord goes back to the beginning. He Himself could say "Consider the lilies." Thus the lesson is, how would that which God at the beginning instituted be affected by the new order of things? There were three great sects among the Jews when the Lord was here, but only two come before is in Scripture, the third is not even mentioned though it is evidently dealt with — that of the Essenes — and it is generally thought that in the Epistle to the Colossians, the Spirit has these before Him and deals with them — "Touch not, taste not, handle not … which things have indeed a show of wisdom in neglecting of the body" etc. That was their line of things dealing severely with their bodies, but they were unsupported by the word of God in what they were doing. That is the sect, and some of the saints were being affected by them. Nothing can be wrong that is instituted by God. You ought by His grace to be a better husband and father and all else, and so able to adorn the doctrine.

Now we must take particular notice of what the Spirit says to us in the beginning of this chapter. The Lord finally bids farewell to Galilee. But before He comes into Judea several important events take place between Galilee and Judea, and perhaps it would make the subject here the more remarkable that the part mentioned was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, who had married his brother's wife. The sanctity of the marriage tie is here impressed on us, for when the Lord was here it was very loosely held. The disciples themselves thought it a good thing to be able to put away their wives if they displeased them. Now Christendom is going back to the filth out of which it had been rescued. What we should keep before our minds is not only that God, as Creator, made male and female, but He made one male and one female. In Genesis it says "Male and female created He them, and called their name Adam."

In ver. 7 they say, "Why did Moses then command?" etc. He did nothing of the sort. He gave liberty; but never commanded; so the Lord takes them up and says he "suffered you." No doubt it was allowed in order to prevent worse sin, because of the hardness of the heart. The woman may suffer by fear, and the man be characterised by anger. If a daughter made a vow it had to be ratified by her father. But Jehovah hated this putting away. So we get the instructions in 1 Cor. 7. that the believing wife or husband is not to put away an unbeliever if pleased to dwell together. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." It was very different in Israel, as we learn from Ezra and Nehemiah. They were not on Christian ground, and so Israel had to put away these unholy alliances. But now a believing husband or wife is not to put away the unbeliever. There is only one exception, which in God's sight dissolves the tie. So that putting away in that case only makes public what already exists under God's eye. The disciples say, "If the case of a man be so with his wife it is not good to marry," which shows how they were affected by the evil. Living the truth before the eyes of the unbeliever is what God will honour (1 Peter 3:1).

Ver. 12. Paul was an instance of the case last mentioned in this verse. If we read 2 Cor. 11 and see what Paul went through (because of the naughty ways of the Corinthians it was that he was obliged to allude to it) it shows how he would not have been free to pursue such a path had he had a wife and family. Peter was married before his conversion.

Ver. 13. What should they ask the Lord to pray? We could not say that was right, though evidently they wanted His blessing. How will children be affected by the new order of things? That is the point. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise." In Luke they were literally babes that were brought. They were not all such, as He uses the child as a model of simplicity and humbleness, so they must have been a little grown up. The disciples were annoyed, and thought that their Master had more important work than attending to children. He was misunderstood by all. I have known people who held non-eternity of punishment, and that the kingdom of heaven was alone the millennium, to have queer notions about these little ones, even that they will be the progenitors of those who will live in the kingdom! When the Lord lays His hand it is a hand of blessing and power. Those who touched the Lord gave a touch of faith, but His was a touch of power. There was that in His touch which meant blessing to those dear children. There is wonderful encouragement here to parents to bring their children to the Lord. When Israel said that they and their children would perish in the wilderness, the Lord told them that they themselves should, but that the little ones would be brought into the land.

In the early period of the Lord's ministry people marvelled at the gracious words He spoke, and even the officers could say, "Never man spoke like this man." But the Lord revealed Himself to the conscience. This young man accosted the Lord on the level of human opinion. He had read of eternal life and he came to the Lord as one who could give him a right answer. If that teacher was only a human teacher he would be only a blind leader of the blind. So His words imply, Am I not more than good? Am I not God? If He were not God, He was (I say it with all reverence) the basest of impostors. The Lord knew what the effect of His words would be; He tests the conscience. There is no one good but God. We come as a receiver, not as an earner. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The Pharisees by some means had found out there was such a thing as eternal life. It is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament. The life generally referred to there is temporal, not eternal. The law proposed life, "This do and thou shalt live." So the Lord took the young man up on his own ground. He addresses him on the ground of his responsibility to his fellow creatures. If you are on the ground of doing, it is all up with you. It is not what we give up, nor yet what we bring to God but what we receive. If he had only done what was right between man and man it would have been something. Are you not richer than your neighbour? Sell that thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven and come and follow Me. If I am good, follow the good.

As far as what we have here is concerned, there was one afterwards who could say, "Touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless!" — that is the outward observance of the law, for he would not have known lust except the law had said, "Thou shalt not covet." That had to do with what was inward, and proved him guilty. You have often told your child to do what you knew he could not do in order that he might learn his incapacity. So did God thus act in giving the law. And He has justified Himself too by giving it, but God's unconditional grace has proved that on no ground of law can man be justified. Those who are saved are vessels of mercy which He has afore prepared unto glory. Those who are lost are vessels of wrath fitted, not foreordained, to destruction — they fitted themselves. Every one will have to justify God in His dealings with them. "That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." It is impossible for God to do wrong. The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ; it hemmed us in, as it were, on every side to show us there was no chance at all for us except in Christ, shut us up in unbelief to show us the necessity of coming to Him. If you turn to the Acts and see the addresses given to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, you will find a vast difference. To the Jews the apostle appeals to the word of God, to others he appeals to creation. It is only when Christ came that the truth came out in its fulness that man was lost. His is a hopeless condition, but that was not revealed till the remedy was there. You cannot get too great a view of your ruin; and your need of an infinite Saviour. There was an intimation of Him in Hosea "O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help."

This young man was only waiting for the Lord's approval of all he had done; and that he did not get. Earthly parents may be mistaken in their judgment of us, but the Lord never. Paul's thorn in the flesh was given in love. If we do not understand all His ways with us are we not called, nevertheless, to trust in Him? The Lord puts the young man to the test. "If thou wilt be perfect," up to the full measure of the law's requirements, nothing lacking, "go and sell that thou hast" etc. Thou shalt not lose by it, not only will the future be secured, but yourself also. "Follow Me." Paul did accomplish what this young man could not. He had tasted grace so richly, and had a true knowledge, a surpassing knowledge, of the same One who here speaks to this young man. And it was this knowledge of the Lord Jesus which enabled Paul to give up what he could not otherwise so readily, have done. What things were gain to him he counts them (not lost but) loss, not anything he regretted.

It was a surprise to the young man no doubt when he was just waiting to get the Teacher's approval! What a test, "Go and sell that thou hast," etc. It is a very narrow gate that leads to life, and it will not admit any of these things. It is the kingdom we have before us, and it shows that what is given up here for the Lord, makes one an immense gainer. Do any of us realise what it is to follow Christ? to have treasure in heaven, and treasures here too — a loss that produces incomparable gain and joy unspeakable? The disciples as Jews would regard it somewhat of advantage if a man was in a position to bring a bullock as an offering rather than able only to bring a dove. Some were so poor that they could only bring a handful of flour, a little bit of appreciation of the Lord's person, though not realising His death. It has been said that it is surprising what a little bit of truth has been used to a soul's conversion. Here riches are regarded as a great impediment.

In ver. 24 it is not only the thought of impediment, but that there must be a divine work of grace in the soul, for that would apply as much to a poor man as to a rich. Sometimes children are told that the needle's eye was the narrow side-gate through which the camel could only squeeze when unladen! But the fact of the matter is, that it is meant to be an illustration of a natural impossibility. Man must be brought where the jailer was brought, to a cry of terror, "What must I do to be saved?" Nicodemus was brought in a quieter way, "How can these things be?" We must have our months shut. Directly the disciples say "Who then can be saved?" the Lord saves Bartimaeus as we find in Luke, and then He saves Zacchaeus the rich man, who shows us an earnestness, going before and climbing the tree etc., so there were difficulties, but salvation came that day to his house. If salvation comes the devil will raise difficulties. If you go with the tide you will be popular. In the case of Zacchaeus the great point is "This day." Though chief of the publicans, it had been his habit to give to the poor and to restore fourfold if unwittingly wronging anybody, but excellent as all this was, it did not bring him salvation. "This day" it came, with the Lord's gracious words of power to him, and Zacchaeus made haste and came down from the tree, and received Him joyfully. That is how salvation came. If a person has life in his soul it is characterised by obedience, and a desire to do the Lord's will. When Saul of Tarsus was struck down the first sign of divine life was "Behold, he prayeth." He turned to God, and prayer was the first action of divine life in his soul; but he had not peace till three days after. He could challenge his companions, Can you find fault with me? for as touching the righteousness of the law, he was outwardly blameless, but he could not challenge God; the commandment came home, sin revived, and he died. "Who then can be saved?" "The chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15); and that means that the door which was high enough and wide enough to admit the man who was inspired 'of God to call himself "chief," is high enough and wide enough to admit any who come after. It is not a mere sentiment that you and I might have if we get a glimpse of ourselves, but the Spirit of God inspired the apostle Paul to write himself as "chief." You are quite right to look at yourself in the sight of God and say, 'I am as bad as any'; but God has shown us a pattern man, both as a sinner and as a saint. Our fallen nature is the same in every individual, the Holy Ghost calls it "the same lump" (Rom. 9:21). So I shall never meet one with a worse nature than myself, but Paul was speaking of his path, and of what he had done. Out of that same lump are taken vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. We do not measure guilt as God does. It is a terrible thing when maliciousness and injuriousness and persecution are carried out under the garb of religion. And we may think of these depraved as the worst sinners, yet the Lord says it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for Capernaum. We do not read of any special depravity in Capernaum, but they had had the Lord Jesus amongst them and had rejected Him.

Ver. 27. Peter did not leave the fishing when it was a failure, but when he had had the best day's catch he had ever known. And the Lord was not unmindful. He healed his wife's mother. In the next verse we get a word "regeneration," which only occurs here, and in Titus 3. It is a new condition of things, a new state; here it refers to the millennium. If here it is, "Ye which have followed Me," in Luke 22. the Lord could say, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations." He is sitting on the Father's throne now; when He comes in His kingdom He will sit on His own throne, and we shall sit with Him there. No creature will ever sit on the Father's throne. What has been conferred on Him, is Manifested glory, and this He gives us to share with Him! "When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall we also be manifested with him in glory." As the One who had done a perfect work He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). He has not taken one tittle of my sins up there. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." What is there in Christ to condemn? If you are in Him, there is nothing to condemn. That does not mean there is nothing in our ways for the Father's appraisement, but that no guilt attaches to us before God. "By one offering He has perfected in perpetuity" — without a break — "those that are sanctified." Where grace brings salvation it teaches "us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." It never teaches you that you are better.

The question of reward should never be our motive. It is given to us as an encouragement, but our motive should be the glory of God. The apostle Paul with all his labours had not a greater title to the glory than the dying thief, for the greatest blessings are common to all saints; and the sweetest reward will be the white stone, the mark of the Lord's secret approval. That will be a great deal better than outward display. But it was a poor thing for Peter to bring this in here; we are not always wise. Sovereign grace is a great thing to hold fast all the way. There are the two sides given us in the word. God tells us what is becoming on our part, and then tells us what He will do. The best can only say, "We are unprofitable servants," but the Lord will say, "Well done good and faithful servant." If you have been true to the Lord He will not forget it. Another thing to remember is that God of necessity must be right. That is what is brought out here, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love." There is something wrong about us when the Holy Spirit has to occupy us with ourselves. It is a blessed thing when He is free to occupy us with Christ.

Ver. 27. This was quite true. Peter did not turn his back on his business when it was unsuccessful, but when he had had such a very good day's fishing. The Lord shows our particular path here is preparing us, for our place in the coming kingdom. Faithfulness in what is committed to us now determines our place in the kingdom. This is not actually the new heavens and the new earth that is before us; it is the millennium. "The regeneration" here answers to the new heaven and the new earth of Isaiah, not to the eternal state. We shall never sit on the Father's throne but on the Saviour's throne. "To him that overcomes will I give to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father on his throne." "Judging" here is in the sense of rule, to take up the cause of, and execute, justice. "Receive a hundredfold," that is in the present; and "shall inherit everlasting life," there it is in all its fulness. The believer has it now; it is for him to enjoy. "But to them that by patient continuance in well doing, seek for honour and glory and incorruptibility, eternal life" (Rom. 2:7). This is at the end. He has it before him in all its blessedness.

Well, we find John, as a rule, presents eternal life as a present possession. We readily admit that eternal life is in the Son; but if, as some dare to teach, no one has it, what sense is there in the expression "We know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him?" It may help any that may have a difficulty about the O.T. saints not knowing they had it, if we say that they all had both life and righteousness, for the two go together. They were quickened. "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness." He was justified, therefore he had eternal life, because life and righteousness go together. The law demanded righteousness, but never imparted life. But the knowledge of it is another matter. As an illustration of the difference between possessing and knowing, take a later truth. The body of Christ, the mystery, of which every believer since Pentecost is a member, was formed then, when the Holy Ghost was given. Believers were then baptised by the Holy Ghost into one body. After I believed the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation, I was sealed, and received the Holy Ghost. But there was no revelation about that "one body" until it was given to Paul. The first intimation of it after it was formed was, "Why persecutest thou me?" It was then existing.

The only other passage in which "regeneration" occurs is Titus 3:5. Almost invariably in christian writings it is taken as new birth, whereas it really means a new order of things. The run close together, but we must not confound them. We are already in the new order of things. "The Father himself loves you." "The kindness and love toward man of God our Saviour" in Titus 3 is "philanthropy" — a different thing from man's philanthropy indeed.

Ver. 30 differs from Matt. 20:16, the order being inverted. A person may commence very well, as did the Galatians. Some may go on for a considerable period, and then break down like Demas, for example. This is what Scripture links together — the "sufferings," and the "glories," of Christ. Those that wrote of Him, "testified of the sufferings, and the glories that should follow." There must be sufferings that we share with Him (Rom. 8 and Titus 3). We all suffer with Him, but we do not all suffer for Him. This is a gift, but every saint of God suffers with Him, the result of the new nature. Paul said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The answer to Ananias was "I will show him what great things he must suffer." The believer has a short night and an eternal day the unbeliever has a short day and an eternal night!

Matthew 20

1919 257 This chapter is closely connected with what has gone before. Strange as, at first sight, it may appear, there may be a danger of making too much of what the Lord gives in His grace to encourage us. Those that are rewarded in Matt. 25 wonder at what He says to them. Their minds had evidently not been set on the reward. The great point here is unmistakably the goodness and sovereignty of God. His ways and his thoughts are not as ours, He is always right. We must ever hold on to this. Every saint will get righteousness from God, but if He gives you what is above righteousness, that is another thing! Look at the Lord sitting over against the treasury. The word of God is full of undesigned coincidences; here is one. In Mark, He looks up; in another Gospel we are told He sat. He sees a poor widow, and she cast in two mites. In the Proverbs it says, "A false balance is abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight." He weighs all up in the balances of the sanctuary, and as He does so He says, "This poor widow has cast in more than they all."

In Luke you get three widows that may be said to correspond with the "widow indeed" in 1 Tim. 5. Anna "continued in prayer, night and day"; this widow "trusted in God," and the widow of Nain was indeed — "desolate."

I have no doubt that Martha compared herself very favourably with Mary, but the Lord shows us that His way of thinking is different from our own. Martha was not commended, but Mary was. If the Lord puts a certain thing in your heart to do, do it, for it is ever right to do His bidding.

The householder agrees with the first lot for a penny a day (i.e., 8d.). The Roman denarius, or "penny" was a fair equivalent for a day's work throughout the empire in N.T. times. In Rev. 6:6, where the time is clearly "straitened," the purchasing power of the "penny," is only one "measure of wheat" instead of from eight to fifteen, showing a then time of  awful scarcity. The good Samaritan took out "two pence and gave to the host, and said, "Take care of him, and when I come again, I will repay thee," for he was not going to be away long. To the other labourers the householder said, "Whatsoever is right," etc. It is remarkable that he should say to the murmurer "Friend." The man that had not on the wedding garment is also addressed, "Friend," and so was Judas. But these instances are not the word of affection as in John 15:14-15, etc. The Lord would not do any one any "wrong." "The righteous Lord loves righteousness." Abraham held that very strongly when he said "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right"? Ver. 15 is very sweet. The contrast is between mine and thine. "Take what thine is … is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" It is a practical lesson for us not to think we are worthy of anything. What is produced of good, is entirely of the Holy Ghost. Paul could say, "I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." And when he speaks at the end, "I have kept the faith" — "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (he had been faithful to his stewardship) — how beautifully he brings in the grace of God! "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them also that love His appearing." He had laboured more than all, but all who look for the Lord, when He shall have His rights, though they may have done very little, the Lord will not forget. I fear many of us have different feelings from those of the apostle Paul. Those of us who are older ought to rejoice that we are nearing the end of our journey, and by the grace of God should seek to finish our course with joy. To Paul it was revealed, "Bonds and afflictions abide me"; yet he held on to his course, steadfastly, and never turned away from "this one thing I do." "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" "Good" goes beyond "righteousness." "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet for the good man some would even dare to die." It is interesting to see what the Spirit calls a good man in Ps. 112. In that way we are called, as dear children, to imitate God.

Ver. 16: There are two callings in the word, a general call, and an effectual call. "Because I have called, and ye refused," etc., that is a general call; but "they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" — this is an effectual call.

It was when Peter said, they had "left all and followed Him that the Lord spoke of His death. We must remember his following was the result of a call, not like that of the young man who said, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." We should never call on sinners unsaved to follow Jesus. They must know forgiveness first. It is worse than putting them under law. If the Lord is denied His rights as Messiah, He gets the wider glory as Son of man. Here we see that both Jew and Gentile are guilty of His rejection and death. But the Lord also indicates that everything that man could do to Him would be disallowed and reversed by God. "The third day He shall rise again." God is bent on honouring His Son. If Simon refuses Him the honours of the east, God brings in a woman to whom His Christ is everything. Further on in this Gospel, when the rulers consult to put Him to death, it is a woman who anoints Him for His burial.

It seems remarkable how the incident of James and John should be brought in immediately after. It would seem what He had said had had but little effect on them, that they regarded it as a kind of mystery. The great thing is to have before our souls the love that led Him to Calvary. That "the third day He should rise again," and also as more general that "God raised Him from the dead" are each of them true. In John's Gospel where He is more particularly presented as a divine person, He raises Himself. So in Heb. 1: "After making purgation for sins He sits down"; He is there seen as a divine person. J. G. Bellett once said, that the Gospels have a singular place in the revelation God has given, and he considered the Gospel of John bore the same relation to the other three, as the four together do to the whole of Scripture. In the Gospels we get personal redemption accomplished, the work of the person who did it; in the Epistles, we get the doctrine of it.

I would not like to say anything hard about the mother of Zebedee's children. How limited we are, and how much selfishness there is in all of us! The apostle could say of Timothy, "I have no man like minded who will genuinely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's." I quite believe that Luke and the others were away just then, and that no one then with him was like Timothy. Of course grace teaches us to prefer others to ourselves, and nothing but grace enables us to do that, and to seek, not our own, but others' wealth. The Lord Himself delights to serve, and even in glory "He will gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them"; He will be a servant for ever! Salome had her sons, and she paid Him homage and desired for them a certain thing of Him. Hers was a Jewish hope. Psalm 72 and Luke 1 show us the blessed anticipations of Israel's blessedness in Messiah's days, while in Luke 24 the two disciples tell the Lord, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.'"

We get very little about the eternal state in the O.T., and he who sees the different character of the N.T. can recognise the reason why. The O.T. is full of the Lord's millennial kingdom, and that is really what every pious Jew was looking for. But now, we who form the church — composed of all saints from Pentecost to the Lord's coming for His own — we shall have part in the heavenly department of the kingdom. This woman was bent on a good place for her sons. The Lord had said of both these sons that they should sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, but she wanted her sons to have a special place among the twelve. Even now, I do not walk on earth to make me fit for heaven, but we enter the holies as worshippers, and thus to walk on earth; and this is the only way by which we can walk as heavenly ones.

"Can ye drink of the cup" etc.? (ver. 22). The Lord does not dispute this. He says, "Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give but to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." The Lord will dominate everything, but He will administer it according to the Father's will He takes the subject place. There was a cup He alone could drink; when it is a question of atonement He is all alone in that. His cup was beyond the power of all created intelligences to share. One only, Himself alone, could drink it. He suffered for sins at the hands of God. He suffered for righteousness at the hands of man. The atoning sufferings of Christ must ever be kept distinct. He suffered at the hands of "God" — not of the "Father."

There is a precision in scripture we must ever be mindful of. He was never more the delight of the Father's heart than as the Holy Sufferer on the cross. In His non-atoning sufferings we may share. Paul says, "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings." He did know Him as His Saviour, and could speak of the surpassing knowledge, yet he wanted to know Him more, and the fellowship of his sufferings! Suffering with Christ is the portion of every true child of God in this world; but suffering for Christ is a gift. There is this difference between Peter and Paul, that Peter was "a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory about to be revealed," whilst Paul was a witness of the glory, and a partaker of the sufferings.

The ten were not any better than the two. Oh, that wretched self! It is a wonderful thing to be emptied of it. The Lord here is bringing out the principles of His kingdom (vers. 25, 26). God has given us liberty to serve in contrast to law. A minister is a servant, but not necessarily a slave, as most of the servants then were. Several words are used in the N.T. for servant; of the two here he that would be greatest or chief let him be "slave." What the Lord says about Himself is sufficient motive. All human pretensions are disowned. He came to minister. When the question is asked the disciples, "Who do man say that I the Son of man am?" some said, "Elijah, or John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets"; but there was no saving knowledge in all that.

"But who say ye?" "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." It was a blessed confession, and then for the first time in the inspired word the church is spoken of. Simon Bar-jona was blessed; his confession was never learnt of human intelligence, it was revealed to him. Another scripture comes to mind, speaking of the work wrought by the Son of man on the cross. As Son of man He is spoken of in two ways as the suffering One, or as the exalted One. But before He speaks of His sufferings, He speaks of His divine attributes. If He is speaking to Nicodemus, yet was he the Son of man in heaven. Never separate those two verses John 3:13 and 14. It is the glory of the person that gives efficacy to the work.

Nathaniel brings out His glories in John 1. Christ is there the Omniscient One. I believe "under the fig tree" was a place of absolute secrecy, and that he had to do with the Lord about his sins there, because no one can be without guile until he knows his sins forgiven. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile."

Here is the perfect Servant. And after His service had been completed He had the opportunity of going out free. The Hebrew servant in Ex. 21. is taken to the door — inside was this service, outside was liberty. And he says, "I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go out free." The Lord has deliberately taken that place in His wondrous love. I think you get the ear digged (Ps. 40) in "a body hast Thou prepared Me." That only could be said of One, for in becoming a man there was perfect ability to do the will of God. Then "morning by morning mine ear hast Thou opened." The first thing He heard when he woke was the voice of Him whom he came to serve. Then at the end the ear is bored. What a Saviour! There is the price paid down. His life, that life of infinite value, the price and holy life laid down — a ransom for many!

Vers. 29-34. In the three Synoptic Gospels this journey to Jerusalem begins at Jericho. It is different in John where the Lord begins His ministry as the rejected One. We have two blind men in chap. 9 of our Gospel: these connect with the Lord's Galilean ministry; here it is in Judea. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established," so Matthew, writing to his countrymen, the Jews, tells us of two, while the other Gospels only give one, the son of Timaeus. The giving of sight was one of the things specially mentioned as what Messiah would do — "then the eyes of the blind shall be opened (Isa. 35:5) etc." That is in Messiah's day, so you get it fulfilled in testimony to Israel. In the early chapters of the Acts the lame man leaps as a hart. Here its connection is with Judea and the Lord's public final testimony. He left Galilee never to return to it (in chap. 19). The blind man of John 9, and the two here teach lessons that are quite different. Here is seen the Messiah; in John the Son of God. There is beautiful design in scripture; not only a selection of events from the Lord's ministry, but a divine arrangement of them. It is God who is acting here: He is dealing with these blind men and ordaining a testimony to His Son. If Israel refuses Him at the beginning, Gentiles come to worship Him as born King of the Jews; and here at the end there are these blind men, a testimony to the nation. Thus is the wisdom of the Spirit. Nationally they had forfeited everything. In the dispensational part of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul shows us this, and at the end he has to burst out: "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" God will fulfil His word. Now He is blessing the Gentiles, exercising His sovereignty. The Jews were making much of being the natural descendants of Abraham; so was Ishmael. Then when you come to Isaac and Jacob, the two sons of the same mother and father, God's sovereignty again comes out. And when Israel gets the blessings unconditionally promised to Abraham, they will get them solely on the ground of unmerited mercy; and on that same ground we also come in. The very One who at the word of a man made the sun stand still, stood still Himself at the cry of a beggar! After Israel had forfeited everything by taking deliberately the ground of law (for, ignorant of themselves they did not value the grace so blessedly brought out in the early chapters of Exodus), then God tells them, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy"; He retreats into Himself. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." And so here, "Jesus had compassion on them." They follow Him, and so become His disciples. From disciples it was that Jesus choose the twelve that they might be with Him, and whom He sent forth to preach the kingdom of God, to heal the sick, and cast out demons.

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Matt. 20:27-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43.

1919 260 Luke 18:35, does not say more than "He was nigh" (not "come" nigh) and so agrees with Matthew and Mark who represent the scene as after the Lord's departure from Jericho. Luke 19:1, states that Jesus passed through Jericho, and verse 2 allows the reversion of the mind to what took place in the city, giving us the incident of Zaccheus.

Thus all three accounts of the healing of the blind men, of which Timaeus was one, agree.

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Matthew 21

1919 273 The importance of the Mount of Olives is that Jesus is being presented as the nation's King, and the people were very familiar with that mountain. God had given them Zech. 14:4 — "His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives." Here is the very One on the very mountain. They shall say in that day, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord." We have also this prophecy in Zech. 9:9, "Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, shout O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King comes unto thee; he is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." So we have the blessed fulfilment of this. Let us dwell on it. The firstling of an ass was redeemed with a lamb, and this is connected with the first-born of Israel in Ex. 13. Job says that man is born like a wild ass colt. "The Lord has need of them." How could we be redeemed if we were not lost? The Lord has need of us that He may have the glory 0f Redeemer. The firstling of every clean animal was the Lord's, but the ass was unclean — a picture of myself — and if it is to be saved from judgment it must be redeemed by the blood of a lamb, type of our blessed Saviour, the Lamb of God. "For as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ also was once offered to bear the sins of many." My position was death and judgment; Christ has died to deliver me from this, and that I might have His place in life and righteousness. It is a wonderful object lesson to us, thus humiliation is ours, but it brings the Lord before us. He is the righteous or just one, the Saviour having salvation, the meek and lowly One. But His divine glory comes out in this scene here before us. He is the One who can control everything. "The Lord has need 0f them," and the owner obeys. And another thing it was an ass's colt that had never been broken in, but He had perfect control of it. I take it the evidence is, that the Lord rode on both the ass and the colt, perhaps part of the way on one, and part of the way on the other. I have no doubt there are moral lessons here for us. It says of Ishmael that "he should be a wild ass of a man" (Gen. 16:12 J.N.D.). That is what we are, nor could any man tame him. If Ishmael failed to give Him praise, poor Gentiles dead in trespasses and sins should be fitted by God to do it.

Heb. 2 affords us light on Psalm 8. "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour." The Revised Version (following the Geneva Bible of 1560) renders Ps. 8:5 "a little lower than God," although. "Elohim" (or "God") is many times used for "gods," or "mighty ones," and evidently here and in Ps. 97:7, of angels, and is so rendered by the LXX., confirmed as this is by Heb. 2:7. Angels have no Redeemer. They have fallen, not like the human race in a federal head, but some of them and without a tempter. And God counts the tempter worse than the tempted. "He takes not hold of angels." We learn from this that they are on a higher scale than man, but He passed them by twice. He passed them coming down when He was made a little lower than the angels; and He passed them again going up. He is made higher than the heavens, angels, authorities and powers being made subject unto Him. He has gone up above them, and taken us up too, in spirit, already.

This was about the time of the feast of the passover. Multitudes are very fickle and not to be trusted. "How can ye believe who receive honour one from another"? It hinders faith to receive flattery.

There is a recognition of Him as Saviour, in "Hosanna" (ver. 15), which means "Save now." 'Tis wonderful how often Psalm 118 is quoted. This was a little anticipation. Repentance will be wrought in the hearts of the Jewish nation by and by, as was with Joseph's brethren. But although they were saying this there was apparently little intelligence; then, He was only the prophet of Nazareth. God was arranging this presentation, not with a view to His acceptance, for He had accepted His rejection, but God is justifying Himself. Judgment must begin at the house of God, and in Ezekiel 9 He says, "Begin at my sanctuary." "And if it first begin at us what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?" Peter's subject is the government of God, and "if the righteous with difficulty be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear." The Lord Jesus is a perfect Saviour. He died to save us; He lives to save us right through the wilderness, and He is coming to save us right out of it.

In John it is at the beginning of His ministry that He purges the temple. Here it is at the end. and He speaks of it quoting the prophet, as "My house." In John it is "My Father's house."

The day is coming when Jerusalem will be the metropolis of the world, and the temple will be rebuilt, and all the nations will come up to keep the feast, but not that of Pentecost. This last has "fully come." So we read nothing of this Feast of Weeks in millennial days. Turn to Zech. 14:16-17. It will be righteousness and nothing will be passed over as now. Then in Malachi it says, "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering. For my name shall be great among the heathen, says the Lord of hosts" (chap. 1. 2 ).

The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. They were hated of David's soul. You do not get Joab appearing while David is in rejection, but when David comes to the throne he steps forward and is very prominent (see 2 Sam. 5).

Well, then, we see in the cleansing of the temple Jesus acting in perfect righteousness; here we get perfect grace, He is bringing salvation. God was ordering all as due to His beloved Son. In the tabernacle the beautiful combination of colours, and metal, all told of His glory; and you get it in a grander scale in Solomon's temple with all its carved work, but the millennial temple will not derive its glory from anything of that sort, it will have a greater glory — even the presence of the Lord Himself.

Vers. 17-46: Bethany was quite a place of retreat and rest for the Lord. That miracle has an exceptional character. Things are arranged dispensationally in Matthew, and not according to time. Had figs been produced on the tree they would still have been there, for the time of gathering had not come. Terrible things have been said about the word, and about the Lord, alas! through not understanding this. This is a curse, and has dispensational teaching in it. The fig tree is the well-known emblem of Israel.

Luke 13:6-9 is so plain in the Lord's own teaching, "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard," etc., showing the heart of the Lord toward Israel, and His pleading there is quite in keeping with His prayer on Calvary, "Father, forgive them." The parable in Luke has special reference to the Lord's ministry. There was perfect patience on the part of the One to Whom they were responsible. A fig tree with nothing but leaves illustrates profession and nothing else. The Lord took the place of the nation. God brought a vine out of Egypt, and the Lord says, "I am the true Vine." "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Plenty of things that men call faith should be called fancy, because unsupported by the word of God. Gentile believers are not called "the Israel of God." At any time, in any dispensation, believers of Israel have been "the Israel of God." Now, a believing Jew forms part of the church, wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile. "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly," etc.

"This mountain" (ver. 21) refers to their political condition as a nation. The Jews have been removed and cast into the sea of nations. God never will have His Son slighted. In the government of God, it always stands good that "to whom much is given of him shall much be required." Better to have been a Sodomite than to be living when the Lord was here and reject Him!

Ver. 22: All scriptures of this kind bespeak the prayer of communion. You could not have anything like that stated unconditionally. We cannot take isolated portions but the whole word of God. "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart." Delighting in the Lord will form desires that are according to the mind of God. "He gave them their request but sent leanness into their souls," so we need to be on our guard as to what we ask. Not every prayer of believers is prayer "in the Holy Ghost." There can be no denial to us if it is. Even eloquence in prayer should be guarded against. A verse like this should make us think of Eph. 3:20, "Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," not "can" ask, because it is praying in the Holy Ghost and there is no limit to Him. In the morning "I will direct my prayer unto thee and will look up," for the answer. You could think of a prayer like that of Epaphras for the saints at Colosse, and could ask it unconditionally. We can ask anything like that absolutely. But of many other things one can only say "If it be the Lord's will." Then we trust His wisdom as well as power. Some seem to think power is the only thing. For instance, some say it is shameful for a Christian to suffer, seeing the Lord has the same power as when on earth! But we want to trust His love and wisdom. There is the pruning of the fruitful branches of the vine.

Ver. 23: This was inexcusable. He had given full demonstration as to who He was. One cannot bring oneself to believe they were ignorant of His being the Messiah, but they were looking for a great military leader. There was nothing in Christ to attract the natural man. The Lord, as has been rightly said, never answered a curious question curiously. He answered their heart and conscience; so here He answers their question by asking another. If men say the Bible is not true, this is a question for God, not for us to argue about.

Ver. 25: They were the slaves of the people, and yet led them in their superstition. There is no trace of faith, simply human policy and a thorough lack of uprightness. John did no miracle yet they all held him for a prophet. His ways spoke. There is a dignity about the Lord's words, "Neither tell I you." He had given them plenty of proof and would give them no more. That should be sufficient guide for us. It was a sad condition that the Galatian saints got into when they had been ensnared. As far as we know, this Epistle to them was the only one Paul wrote with his own hand, for usually he employed others to write, and then he adds his signature (see 2 Thess. 3:17). I don't know about the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, as he refers to epistles written "as by him." But to the Galatians he says, "See with what large characters I have written to you." If his sight was very defective it would tax him much more to write. But then he says, "Henceforth let no man trouble me," he would not go on any more. He had put the whole thing clearly, and in a permanent form, and he would not have his time any more taken up with these men. We ought earnestly to cry to the Lord to give us wisdom to fill up the day wisely for His glory, redeeming the time because the days are evil.

Vers. 28-32: "Two sons"; we get two sons in Luke 15. They are divided for us. The publicans farmed the taxes for the Romans and this opened the door for extortion. Even in our own country where we may consider the taxes are better laid out than in any country in the world, the tax collector is not a greatly beloved man. So you can understand how they were disliked and thought impossible to be saved. It is wonderful how Israel was taught to be considerate and merciful even to dumb creatures, as witness the instruction about birds' nesting, and the return of a pledged garment. There are many things done in our day that are unnatural and which the Lord would not let his earthly people do.

Ver. 29: A clergyman meeting another remarked "The dissenters give me a lot of trouble." His friend replied, "It is the assentors that trouble me." I feel in preaching the gospel I am intensely desirous that souls should believe, but I do not want unduly to press them to say they believe. If a soul is quickened it is the work of the Holy Spirit, and often the Lord gives a successful servant to see how it is Himself and not the servant. A preacher was once trying to help a soul by pointing out passages in his Bible to her, which she diligently followed. At last, as he turned over the leaf she exclaimed, "That's it, I see it." But he had inadvertently turned over two pages, and the passage the Lord used was not the one he had intended to point out to her.

"I go in" (ver. 30) Lip service. In this case it is the Lord's people to whom the oracles of God were committed; so the contrast could not be greater. God's grace goes out to the most undeserving and the most unlikely. Of course it is any, but "not many wise." It is not necessary for a person to be outwardly vile, though we all have the same nature, to be met with by the Lord. What a contrast, in Acts 16, between Lydia and the jailer! From my own personal observation I think those who have had the bitterest experience of the evil of human nature have been those who have been very exemplary before conversion! It is the rejection of Christ that is its worst expression. There must be repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Both are absolutely necessary. It is a very common thing for people to say that repentance is a change of mind, but it is more than that. It is taking God's side against myself. Godly sorrow works repentance not to be repented of. The sorrow of the world works death.

Ps. 80 speaks of a vine being brought out of Egypt, but I should think this is a direct reference to Isaiah 5. Everything possible was done to the vineyard; the fault was alone in those to whom it was committed. The interpretation there is as plain as possible. It speaks of their being dealt with in special favour by God. They had the oracles of God and Jehovah's protection; the tower was built and the wine fat. But while the people were singled out for this trial, it was really the trial of man. Israel was singled out as a sample or pattern. They were tried in a variety of ways — shut up alone with God in the wilderness forty years, then brought into the land, and the book of Judges shows us their utter failure there.

In Isaiah 5 it is the vineyard of His "well-beloved," here (vers. 33-41) of the "Son." Instead of fruit the messengers had malice and ingratitude meted to them. What is given to us here in parable is given to us very plainly in both Old and New Testaments. Turn to 2 Kings 17:13-14, and compare this with what Stephen says in Acts 7:51-52. See also 2 Chron. 26:15-16, and 1 Thess. 2, and again here in Matt. 23:34-35. He came to give and to bless; but He was hated without a cause. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." Although there were all perfections in Christ, divine and human, yet there was nothing in Him to attract the natural eye. John was too severe, the Lord Jesus too gracious for them. The great point is "from that day forth they took counsel together to put him to death." There we have historically what we have here in parable. But it is a blessed thing to be among those who favour His righteous cause.

This is similar to David, when Nathan came and told him "Thou art the man," in that the Lord here makes people judge in their own case. God will be justified in His sayings, and will be clear when He judgeth. We know that whatever God does is in righteousness. If He saves, it is in righteousness; if He puts the sinner in hell, it. is in righteousness. It is "their" worm shall not die, not the worm — it is the man's own conscience. God took care that man did not go out of Eden without a conscience. That was not in man as created, but there was the material to form it before Adam fell, and there must be the knowledge of good and evil to form conscience. Until he sinned Adam knew only good. The Lord Jesus is the One above all others to whom would apply "By the words of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer" (Ps. 17:4); and He is the only One Who ever made a perfect use of the Scriptures.

In ver. 42 the Lord is quoting Psalm 118. That stone had a wonderful place in scripture from Gen. 49. and throughout; everything man meted out to the Lord Jesus was reversed by God. If they slew Him, God raised Him from the dead; if they heaped ignominy upon Him, God highly exalted Him. Typically, after the knife had done its work, and the fire had done its work, the ashes had to be gathered and put in a clean place. You find the antitype of this in John 19:41. In the type, the fire exhausted the sacrifice; in the Anti-type the sacrifice exhausted the fire. So the ashes were laid up in a clean place. And where He is remembered must be a clean place. Disallowed indeed of men He is the Stone chosen of God and precious. He is spoken of as the "living stone" there (1 Peter 2:4). He is the head stone of the corner, He is the foundation; He is that which holds it altogether — the corner stone, and He is the glory of it too. This stone has a very prominent place in Isaiah 28, which is prophetic of what is yet future. There we learn that the mass of the people will make a covenant with the head of the revived Roman empire — a covenant with death (ver. 15). Then in view of the consequent judgment coming, there is this provision, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, etc." The "overflowing scourge" is the king of Assyria. "Shall not make haste" is paraphrased "shall not be confounded" (1 Peter 2:6), and "shall not be ashamed" (Rom. 9:33).

Ver. 44: Further on we get examples of this. One we get in John 8. They were always seeking to crush the Lord. They thought they had Him on the horns of a dilemma — what "Moses said," but "what sayest thou?" He had not been sent to judge the world. It would have been all up with the world if He had been; so He would appear not as judge in the case before Him. But they little knew Whom they had to do with. He was the divine lawgiver, and He caused the light to shine on their conscience. They were "broken," not He.

I remember an instance where a man was a thief and house-breaker. The case was taken to the Assizes and a skilful lawyer got the man off. On returning, another lawyer said to the one whose house had been entered, "I quite think you are in the right, this is the man, but what a triumph for our profession!" Not so with us, for our Advocate is "Jesus Christ the righteous." If we as Christians take our affairs into our own hands He will stand aside and let us do them; but if we commit things to His hands, God will see to it for us. In Num. 12, when Aaron and Miriam spake against Moses, Moses' meekness came out, and the Lord took the matter up. Some of the sweetest examples of this we see in Mary of Bethany. She was the Saviour's guest, but the Lord Jesus was Martha's guest. Martha condemned her sister (and even the Lord Himself! "Carest Thou not?"), yet Mary said nothing, but Jesus speaks for, and commends, Mary. Then again, when Mary took that costly ointment for His burial, and the disciples led by Judas condemned her, the Lord says, "Let her alone."

The Lord's power is irresistible, He will grind them to powder. When the Stone of Daniel 2. falls it makes nothing of the image.

Matthew 22

1919 289 But let us go on to this next chapter. It is exceedingly lovely. It is not return for money here. There is no thought of profit in a marriage feast. Man was under probation from the time he was created up to the cross. But all was over then. Morally, the cross is the end of man. What we have been looking at shows that man is incorrigible. The crowning sin was, that when the Son was sent, He was murdered. But this parable shows that God is determined to put honour on His Son; and He will have His Son honoured. And another thing we may notice. In Matthew's Gospel throughout, things are presented dispensationally. So here it is, "A certain king," whilst in Luke 14 which corresponds somewhat to what we have here, it is not the king and the execution of his wrath, it is simply, "A certain man" made a great supper.

Ver. 4. "All things are ready." This is on the ground of the finished work of Christ. So it is beautiful to see the time comes when the servants are sent with that message. The previous verse says that those who had been invited would not come, as in John 5:40. But the sending forth of "other servants" in this fourth verse assumes the death of Christ. "I have prepared my dinner." Not only is God's glory secured in the death of Christ, but the deepest needs of the human soul are met. Righteousness for the ungodly — that is the wedding garment. His grace goes out to the most unlikely and to the most unworthy.

The Lord said about Samaria that the fields were "white already to harvest"; and we see in Acts 8. Philip reaping therein. The Lord had sown largely there. This remains true while the day of grace runs on. In Luke it says, "all things are now ready." It is not what a man gives, or gives up,but what he receives that makes him a Christian. We are blessed by being recipients of God's grace. The Lord is showing us the danger of making so much of time and sense that the things of eternity are crowded out. The world cannot understand that the Lord Jesus, "the man of sorrows" pre-eminently, was yet the happiest man that ever lived. So Paul could write, "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." In one that is going on really with the Lord, while there will be deep joy, yet there will be a chastened spirit. But Paul was a good calculator. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Ver. 6. The multitude did take the servants, as we see in Acts 12 when James was killed and Peter imprisoned. Absolutely there is none good (ver. 10), but comparatively there are good and bad. As to our nature, sin is the same in everyone: but as to character, there are bad and good. In the "highways" etc., we get the Gentiles, "The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it."

We have here the contrast to what we had in the previous chapter. It is the One sent from the Father, God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, but in answer to all this
"Man meted to the Sinless One
The cross, the grave."
And this parable shows that God is bent on putting honour on His Son. The righteousness of God in Christ is set forth in this wedding garment. It runs right through the scriptures. In the beginning we see the ineffectual efforts of our first parents to make themselves fit for God, in the fig leaves which did not satisfy even themselves; but they were clothed by God with that which brings in Christ in His death, the coats of skins. There is no mention of blood there, but how could coats of skins be provided without its shedding? Here of course it shows how essential it is to have Christ as our needed clothing before God. All is ready, and Luke 20 shows us how the poor sinner gets the best robe, not by reformation, not by being (as he thought possible when in the far country) a faithful servant — a legality which dwells in every natural heart. That foolish thought was kissed away. A servant needs character — he had none. But if he had been the best son that ever was, he could not have had a better welcome. When he was received he could not add "Make me as one of thy hired servants!" The servant is not received so. The immediate response to his confession was, "Bring forth the best robe" — the best, the very best, God had, and that is none other than Christ, "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). When real communion with God comes in, it is the peace offering, the fatted calf. That is fellowship. God has His table and His food. The priest also had his portion, and the offerer likewise — a lovely type of communion.

Bishop Ryle once told the story of a ball in Paris, to which a very wealthy man invited his friends. He had the ballroom fitted up with electric light, which was suddenly turned on in the midst of the festivities. But instead of the pleasure which he had intended for his guests, he caused dismay and consternation! What might have passed in gas light would not pass in the searching light of electricity, and there was a sudden rush for the dressing rooms!

But the infinitely surpassing brightness of uncreated light will only reveal the perfection of that "best robe," and the work of the precious blood of Jesus. The Epistle to the Romans shows us that the source of our justification is the grace of God, and the ground of it the precious blood. The angels excel in strength, but if all their power had been combined it were impossible for them to save one soul from hell. Jehovah laid help upon One that is mighty, mighty to save. This man without the wedding garment represents a religious man, and one on very good terms with himself, he thought he was better than most, equal to any. He had a robe that passed muster before others, but not before the holy eyes of Him who counts nothing but Christ, and who measures all by His glory.

"Friend!" it addressed to Judas and to the labourer in the vineyard, an ominous sound. We must not think this scene is heaven. It is a parable to show the absolute necessity of having Christ as our righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ's law-keeping, though this is a common thought. It is He "who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption," as we have already observed. In 2 Cor. 5 He who knew no sin was made "sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." All is founded on His death and resurrection. The Holy Ghost is here in the world; and because of His presence here, the world is convicted of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. "Of righteousness because I go to the Father" — God's answer to all Christ did to the glory of God. If you want to see the righteousness of God, look up and see the One, Who here was crucified and crowned with thorns, there crowned with glory and honour.

The wrath of verse 7 is God's governmental wrath on earth. But "of judgment" (John 16:8) — this is eternal. The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords must deal when His Son is insulted. God's Son and the work of the Son were alike insulted by this man who despised the wedding garment. And the true awfulness of the eternal state of the Christ-rejector is exceedingly solemn! We need to speak of it with bated breath, and not go beyond scripture. We ought to be very careful. There is no one who presents it in such an awful aspect as the Lord Himself, as for instance, Mark 9:43-48.

"Many are called, but few are chosen" (ver. 14). This is put in to show that while only one may be here mentioned, the application is to many — and the portion of every unbeliever. The word calling is used in a twofold sense. There is a calling that can be refused, and there is another that is effectual. We cannot reason it out. It is ours to believe. It will all be clear to us by and by. If you could master every difficulty in God's word, it would prove that it was not divine — not of a mind greater than your own.

That is a sound argument —
"Thou hast died for sinners,
Therefore, Lord, for me."
Believe then in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

Ver. 15. They were all united: we are getting to the end now of the Saviour's course, and the hatred is more pronounced; and those antagonistic to each other are linked together against God. Man is his very essence, religious or irreligious, is enmity against God. The same principle was in the woman. Why did God permit the serpent to come and tempt her? The blessed thing is to have no guile. I can tell God the very worst thing I know about myself and have nothing to cover up.

Ver. 16. Here we are come to that which demonstrates what the Lord said, "He that falls on that stone shall be broken." This was true of those who opposed themselves then. "On whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." This is when He shall come in glory: when He shall judge and make war. His mighty power will be seen crushing to powder. Turn to Deut. 17:14-15. The very fact of their having a foreigner (Herod) over them reveals their sin. Had the people been faithful, it would have been impossible for any to have got the victory over them. What they wanted here was to get the Lord on the horns of a dilemma. He must either say He Himself was not the monarch and had no right to the throne, or else, refuse allegiance to Caesar. And it would look as if the Jews as a rule felt having to pay tribute to a foreigner, and that christian Jews also had that feeling as well, for Peter impresses subjection on them. Paul also presses the same (Rom. 13) — "tribute to whom tribute is due," etc. The Romans claimed from the Jews under them a poll tax of a denarius a year (7d.). So the Lord said, "show me" what you pay — the Roman coin. You never find the Lord Jesus with any money. To pay the temple tax he instructs Peter to catch the fish, and find the piece of money enough for them both; so here He does not put His hand in His pocket. Judas was their treasurer; and evidently he acted under the Lord's instruction, but he was a thief. "show me the tribute money."

It is very solemn that in the last days of the church on earth, when about to be spued out of the Lord's mouth, there may be  "works" but what are they worth? Putting saints before the Lord, He Himself outside the door of the assembly (not here the sinner's heart!) Only two words give us God's nature. "Light," the purity of His nature; "love," the activity of His nature. He can never give up the purity of His nature. Hence the need of the atonement. "Love" can never override "light."

"They brought unto him a penny — a denarius (ver. 20). The image thereon might have been a very poor likeness, but it represented Caesar. It was his "image." The Lord Jesus is the image of the invisible God, but it would be a fearful error to speak of Him as the likeness of God. This would deny His Godhead. He was made in "the likeness" (not in the reality) of sinful flesh, for He was holy, but truly became flesh. How was it that coin was there? What a testimony to their sin and rebellion! Had they been true, there would have been no coin of the foreigner in the land. Turn to Deut. 26. It was grace that gave them the land but they had to fight for it. So have we, but it is against wicked spirits in heavenly places." You cannot enjoy your heavenly inheritance except by dependence and obedience; and all the scriptures quoted by the Lord to the devil during the temptation in the wilderness was from the book of Deuteronomy, where obedience is particularly impressed on them.

In Joshua 1 he is told to be courageous. In a scene like this where the world, the flesh, and the devil are against us we need courage. "Add to your faith courage." Then it goes on to show us the importance of the word of God. "To observe to do." Do we read the Bible to have the holy privilege of obeying it, or is it only to make us intelligent christians?

Ver. 22. "They were broken." I was thinking as to "Render unto God the things that are God's." You get the very opposite in Malachi. There they brought to God what they would not have given to their Governor. The blind and the lame they offered to Him! Let us put Him in the first place, and let us take all the hindrances and trying experiences as from the Lord who allows them.

Well, the Herodians were shut up; then came other servants of the devil. They were the Rationalists of their day. They did not make anything of the tradition of the elders, and were the bitter antagonists of the Pharisees. They also rejected a great part of the Scriptures, but professed to believe in the Pentateuch; so they spoke of Moses. They believed in annihilation — that when a man died he ceased to be! What they brought forward no doubt they had used in argument a thousand times — an extreme case in order to hold it up to ridicule, for the principle would be the same if but two brothers. Man is a trinity in unity — spirit, soul and body. If the grave retain the body, man is not in his entirety. He is incomplete. The perfect state is in resurrection, when the believer's body is conformed to Christ's body of glory. So the Lord told Herod, "the third day I shall be perfected." He was a perfect man, but while His body was in the grave, He would not be "perfected." Departed saints of God were waiting, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc., for the resurrection. They were living to God, but will not be perfected until the resurrection. It is far better than being here to depart to be with Christ. Those fallen asleep are in the better waiting place. But there is all the difference between an O.T. saint and a Christian. The O.T. saint left his peculiar blessings behind, when he died. Look at Hezekiah. If he had not lived that extra fifteen years, his son who turned out to be the worst king that ever reigned over Judah, would not have been born! We go to be with One we love, Who loved us, and gave Himself for us. Absent from the body, present with the Lord." The secret of the Lord from the beginning is resurrection. Abraham knew it. He believed God, and his faith is spoken of (Heb. 11) as receiving Isaac from the dead, in a figure.

They wanted to crush Him, and found themselves broken. Many times when they thought they had the Lord on the horns of a dilemma they found their folly. So Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees, found the truth of the Lord's own statement, and were broken; by and by He will crush them without remedy to powder. These antagonists to each other were quite prepared to co-operate to crush the Lord. As we get toward the end, their enmity deepens.

We have to remember, that "spiritual things are spiritually discerned"; the natural man does not understand them. Having this subject as to their question of the Lord, it may be well for us to remark that the Christian is not under law. The law had its purpose. It came in by the way. God gave it as one of His tests. Man was under probation from the creation to the cross. In giving the law, God has justified Himself in blessing man in free and unconditional grace. He gave the promises to Abraham before the law. The law was the lowest standard God could give. It was not the revelation of what God is, but the lowest revelation of what man should be. Therefore God has justified Himself in unconditional grace because man could not keep the law. That is the force of the word in Rom. 5 "when we were yet without strength," after being under law 1500 years.

There was nothing wrong with the law, but with the material it had to do with. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." It is the Spirit that gives power to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law, and for that which is higher, viz., to walk as Christ walked. When man fell there were two things necessary to make him right with God, life and righteousness. John's First Epistle shows us that He has provided these (1 John 4:9-10).

A new covenant will be made with Israel in the coming day, and the Lord Jesus said on the night of His betrayal, when He instituted the supper, "This is my blood of the new covenant." So the blood has been shed, and we get the blessings of the new covenant, but we are not under it, or any covenant. Heb. 10. shows us, "your sins and iniquities I will remember no more." But in the millennium He will deal with them differently. There will be a fountain opened, and He will take away the stony heart that said, "Crucify Him," and give them a heart of flesh; and then they will say,"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed."

We do not perceive the beauty of that chapter (Isaiah 53) unless we see this. Our stony heart has not been taken away, and is as bad as ever. Nevertheless, our hearts have been purified by faith, and our standing is in Christ. In our case "we love because He first loved us." The first and great commandment (and this is true for us) is love to Him. The natural man can never give that. It must be in the power of the Holy Ghost. But we have the life that has fulfilled the law. They "that are of works of law," who take that ground, "are under curse."

"Whose son is he?" (ver. 42). This is very plain in scripture. First of all, the seed of the woman; then; the seed of Abraham; then the seed of David; then, in Isaiah 7 born of the virgin. But they all knew Him to be David's son. They were not prepared for a suffering Messiah. They wanted a great conqueror like David. In resurrection it is "I will give you the sure mercies of David"; for all will be make good in resurrection. This shows that if we have not faith in the Lord Jesus as a divine person, we have not the right key — faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as an eternally divine person. "If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins," their case is hopeless. I do not think we can be too plain about this. If a man dies in his sins, he will be raised in his sins, he will be judged in his sins, and will be cast into an eternal gehenna in his sins. When we say, "judged in his sins," we do not mean that his doom awaits to be decided hereafter, for the sinner's doom is already determined. But then, it will be the apportionment of measure, not of duration. Some will be beaten with many stripes. In John 5 the Son of God gives life, and as Son of man he judges. And all will have to accept His righteous judgment.

In Heb. 10:13, we find a remarkable ellipsis. In ver. 12 we get the work of the Lord Jesus and its effect, and in ver. 14 the glories of His work in contrast with the many sacrifices of the law. But in between, we find the words, "From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." These verses show us what very few christians realize, viz., the blessedness that belongs to them — a purged conscience, no more conscience of sins, for by one offering He has "perfected for ever" them that are sanctified. When once the blood is applied to me, and I have the blessing of that perfect cleansing, sin can never again be charged against me as guilt, and there can be no second application of the blood. Sin in the case of the believer is very far worse than with the unbeliever, but it can never be charged against him as guilt. It needs to be cleansed, but the cleansing is not by blood, but by "the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26). Forgiveness of sins is my standing; allowance of sin affects my communion. What is a christian if he has not the joy of communion? "Sit thou on my right hand." The Lord is not regarded in Scripture as now sitting on His own throne, but He will shortly. He is now on the Father's throne, but when He sits on His own throne we shall sit with Him (Rev. 3:21, and see Matt. 25:31).

It is a wonderful place that David has even in the N.T. Directly we are in it the Spirit draws our attention to the Son of David and in the last chapter of the Revelation we read of "the root and the offspring of David." Christ sprang from David, and David sprang from Him. In Romans, where the foundations of the gospel are given, it is concerning God's Son, but historically it is "the Son of David." Well indeed might the apostle say, "Great is the mystery of godliness!" If men look at Him as a mere man they cannot answer this no more than were the Pharisees able. And if He was not the Son of God He could not have met our need. There is nothing so jealously guarded in scripture as the person of Christ, from Genesis to Revelation. We had a reading meeting here yesterday, and our subject was 1 Cor. 12, the gifts in the body; and we were noticing what the Spirit of God is doing for them there in the ministry of His Spirit. Other spirits too there are, which we are to try (1 John 4:1), and we are told that no one can say that Jesus Christ is Lord but by the Holy Ghost. And we can be quite sure that as we listen (for God has given us a perfect standard), if the ministry, glorifies the Lord Jesus that it is of the Spirit; but if it puts a spot on the Spotless One, or in any way derogates from Him, then we know that it is a demon speaking, and we must be subject to the declaration of scripture, not to our thoughts about Him. The two tests of truth are the person of Christ, and the word of God. What we have here and in the chapter which follows, connects itself with Psalm 40. There are very few passages in the O.T. which take us back to eternity. In the N.T. it is very different. The blessings of an earthly people are counted from the foundation of the world; but the Christian was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. We find that voice in Eternity (Ps. 40:7).

Matthew 23

1919 305 He who said in Ps. 40. "Lo, I come," is here found in His ministry — the True and Faithful Witness, and the only one who can be so described. As such He presents Himself in Rev. 3. to the last of the seven churches, and which has proved itself so unfaithful that it will be spued out of His mouth.

I refer to the Psalm because of "the great congregation." The great congregation is Israel, especially when gathered together for the great feast. The Lord's testimony to them specially is in this chapter. How He spoke to them there, how He exposed them! Their animosity did not keep His mouth shut. The remnant is not separated here; it is still Jews who are addressed; they are not on Christian ground. The disciples were going to be brought into a far more blessed place than when they walked here with the Lord. All those saved from Pentecost to the rapture form "the bride" and are going to be presented to Christ in a future day. The Lord, close up to the cross, said, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father and ye in me, and I in you." The disciples before Pentecost were not joined to the Lord, "Except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone." They had not asked in His Name — going to the Father in all that Christ is — though they had repeated the Lord's prayer many times, no doubt.

The scribes were a poor example they were not to be followed, but the Lord was upholding the word of God. It could never be said of any but of Him that His words exactly expressed Himself. The Lord told them in another place, "How can ye believe that receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that comes from the only God?" They were not upright here, not acting as before the Lord. They were all for display, and this is hateful to the Lord. The Christian is warned of this, "Pray to your Father which is in secret."

Verse 5. This is the only place where we get phylacteries mentioned. Four portions of the word of God in a leather case they bound on their foreheads and on their left arm to indicate they were obedient in intelligence and heart. God knows best. He is the searcher of the heart. This is the exact opposite of Phil. 2. The Lord Jesus is the great example of going down, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The contrast there is between the first and the second man. The first man snatched at equality with God, and seeking to exalt himself became abased. When I know I am a dear child I can afford to go down.

We have had already in an earlier part of the Gospel some of the things they had added to the word of God, some of the traditions of men. The apostolic "traditions" (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6) were of divine authority, and now we have them as Scripture in the written word of God.

We must keep in mind that these whom the Lord here addresses are not on Christian ground. It was before the middle wall of partition was broken down, before the ascension of the Lord, and before the Holy Ghost was given. Some not seeing this make sad mistakes about what we have before us here. The Lord, the Faithful and the True Witness, does not keep anything back. They are fully exposed. They were poor samples if they did sit in Moses' seat. They laid heavy burdens and grievous to be borne on the shoulders of men, but we have read of One in Matt. 11 Whose yoke is easy, and Whose burden is light. Those who bear His yoke find He bears their burdens for them. That is the law of Christ. He was the burden-bearer all through His life, not indeed the bearer of our sins, but of our sorrows. But on the cross and there only He bore our sins. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." We fulfil the law of Christ when we bear one another's burdens. It is hypocrisy all through which is exposed here, That seemed to characterise them the seeking honour one of another. What they sought they got. They have their reward — all they will get. There is nothing more to come for them. What was given them to remind them of God's teaching, they just used for display of their piety (vers. 1-5).

In the next verse, the word "rooms" is obsolete in our language in this sense. It means "place." Eminence, ecclesiastical superiority, is quite contrary to what the Lord taught. In Numbers we read of the ribbon of blue, and its typical teaching for us is to remind us we are a "heavenly" people. The great thing is to be true inwardly. God will have truth in the inward parts no matter what others think of us. Paul said it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful, and it is a very small thing for me to be judged of you or of man's day. I know nothing against myself ("by" has now altered its meaning: it is an old English way of saying, "I know nothing against myself)." I have been faithful in what has been committed to me. It is a grand thing if you are true, acting uprightly before the Lord. Then you won't mind what men think. It is not he who commends himself, but whom the Lord commends. If we have His commendation that is everything. There was a speciality in Paul's gospel, the gospel of the glory. So he could say, "According to my gospel." It is wonderful what he says at the end. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Further, he was faithful to what was committed to him. As he looked round and saw the awful declension coming and all things going to rack and ruin, he says, "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that I have committed unto Him" — the good deposit, the truth committed to him, the truth of Christianity, it was in safe keeping. And we have got the benefit of it this afternoon so to speak. He knew to Whom he had committed it.

Verse 7. They liked to be recognized as something great, "Rabbi," my master. "Rab" means great one, it is of Syrian extraction as "Rabshakeh," etc. "One is your teacher," instructor, "and all ye are brethren." We get two words, "teacher" and "Lord." … "If I then your Lord and master," etc., "one is your teacher"; let not one think of himself above another. The scribes show us the opposite thing to that we ought to pursue. We as Christians have been called unto liberty therefore "by love serve one another." "Love looks for the opportunity, and likes to serve. "If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." He is doing it now and we are called to be imitators. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." It shows what a wrong thing it is to bring anyone however blest he may have been to me, into competition with Him. I suppose we all' know now that it is hardly in keeping for us to use the expression, "Our Father which art in heaven," for in the heavenlies, is where grace has put us even now. We are a heavenly people. These were people on earth. It is appropriate that we address Him as "Father," or, "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Verse 11. "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Here is the opposite principle. What a beautiful figure with very lovely teaching we get in the case of the Hebrew servant in Ex. 21! It is all about Christ. If we do not see Him in the O.T., we do not see anything. When I go to that chapter and see the Hebrew servant serving six years, a full term of service, and then having the opportunity to go out free — outside, liberty; inside, service; the question arises, Which will love choose? Love delights to serve; there is the path of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the mount of transfiguration, He has the glory there, and the Father says "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, Hear ye him." Yet He comes down and goes to Calvary! There He plainly says, "I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go out free." He won't be in the glory alone. In all things He must have the pre-eminence. We have His present ministry of love. We are getting the benefit of that perfect service now. He voluntarily became a servant "for ever"; and if we turn to Luke 12:37, we find Him thus serving in eternity. Oh, it is a wonderful thing! Of course if we were beginning that subject really, it would be well to begin with Ps. 40, where there is One born into the world, prepared to do perfectly the will of God. There are only three phases of humanity innocent, fallen, holy. The opened ears (digged, or bored) of Ps. 40 is quoted in Heb. 10 as "a body hast thou prepared me."

Verse 12. What a prominent place has this! Here is a grand principle. The first man thought to exalt himself, and so snatched at equality with God; seeking to improve on what God had done for him, and to exalt himself. God humbles those who exalt themselves, whereas, he that humbles himself shall be exalted. The one pre-eminently Who humbled Himself we find in Phil. 2. There is the perfect pattern. There is no Name so sweet as that which has been given to Him! "Jehovah, a Saviour," for this is the meaning of "Jesus." There is a word for us that ought to be a great blessing to our souls. True humility is not the saying bad things about oneself, for this may consist indeed with the most dreadful pride. The blessed thing is to be able to forget oneself, to be so taken up with the Lord that sell is shut out. When Moses thought (if we may so suppose) that his face shone, the people did not see it, but when he was long enough in the presence of God to get his face shining, all others saw it, but he did not. It is quite presumptuous to attempt to draw the portrait of the Saviour. We are not to have even a mental picture, or we should have had such a description of Him in detail that we could not have made a mistake. But not a word have we. I saw a very striking picture yesterday, it would attract people, but I should not like to have it in my house. We want spiritual communion with the Lord, not that which acts on our nature and feelings.

Verse 13. I suppose they were just as energetic to hinder those going in as to make proselytes. We read more of these Scribes. The bitter opponents of a living Christ were the Pharisees; whilst of a risen Christ, the Sadducees were the bitter opponents. I don't think they ever missed an opportunity to hinder the Lord. In Matt. 5, we had nine beatitudes. Here in our chapter are eight woes.

Verse 15. Is it not so in the present time? Where do you find most energy but in those who are propagating error? These bitter opponents of the Lord were characterised by proselytizing. A fearful day of reckoning awaits them. Meanwhile, how they are exposed (vers. 16, 17)! They have an evil purpose in making these distinctions. And we see how the Lord openly exposes them. Avarice was at the bottom, the desire to make money.

The Quakers are clearly in the wrong in refusing to take an oath when the powers that be "require" it. For the Lord answered to the oath when adjured by the high priest. There we have proof positive to guide us, but to elect to swear is another thing. "Whatsoever is more than this comes of evil." I should judge the "weightier matters of the law" (vers. 23) to be a reference to Micah 6:8. There you find the principle. It would appear from what the Lord says here that they were greatly given to swearing. Some think the gold here was the gold given to the temple; they must not evade that, even if their parents required it! as the Lord had already exposed in chap. 15. You would find in each case here there is an evil motive in all the Lord is exposing in all these distinctions. He Himself had laid down, and it could not be improved upon by man, as to what He required in the case of vows. The father or husband of the woman had power to bind or set aside her vows (Num. 30).

Verse 23. It is well to remember with a scripture like this before us that grace went out to the very vilest, and it is remarkable the cases to which His grace went 0ut in these narratives. But where there is pretension and wrong underneath, all this is abomination in the sight of God, and so we get these "woes." These Scribes and Pharisees were very scrupulous about little matters, but quite indifferent to the weightier matters of the law. The Lord frequently pointed out in His discourses that they did not understand mercy. If ye had known what that means, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." We know that the Lord has said, "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." And so we get "These ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone." We must not be careless about little things. But the Lord was speaking of reality. It did not cost them much to tithe the little herbs in their gardens, and they got a good name by it. They had their reward. Blind guides! they thought themselves guides, but knew not that they were blind. When the two sons of Aaron were struck dead the Lord said in Lev. 10, "I will be sanctified in them that come near me"; and then in Lev. 11. He begins to instruct them in making a difference between clean and unclean, and there is wonderful teaching for us in that chapter. For instance, a mouse there is reckoned unclean. Everything described there as unclean represents some trait of our old nature. A mouse is a purloiner. Very unworthy of a believer! Then again the chameleon — it changes its colour, it represents unreality. A man professing to be a Christian meets another and he speaks to him about spiritual matters; he meets another and talks politics; with another he discusses the latest novel. That is the chameleon. So these scribes were very particular about the gnat because it would make them unclean, but would swallow the camel: no doubt a proverb. But it shows how they ignored the important things, and God will have reality, and the heart right, not simply the exterior.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess" (ver. 25). Is this going to satisfy God? He is not deceived. To indulge that which is evil in the heart, and have a fair exterior is extremely offensive to God. There is no real happiness apart from holiness. Because God was dwelling in their midst He required holiness. But we need to be holy inwardly, and we have the word of God as our standard to judge everything by "The word of God is quick and powerful," and if we have the word of Christ dwelling in us richly, we should be quick to judge an evil thought. It is because these things are unjudged that saints know so little of spiritual joy. A person may be very intelligent in the things of God and yet know very little of spiritual joy. If it is a question of truth, God has two tests of truth the person of Christ and the word of God, as we have remarked.

All this is indeed polluting. Under the law, to touch a bone rendered a man unclean, and water of separation had to be sprinkled before communion could be restored. A person may sing aloud,
"if ever I loved Thee, my Saviour, 'tis now,"
and talk about his love to the Lord; but there is a better way of showing it, "If ye love me keep my commandments." Real subjection of soul will show out our love. That is the very opposite of what we have here (ver. 27). They looked very pious, very godly, but He looked into their hearts. A true child of God says, like David, "Search me, O God" (Ps. 139). No one can really say that unless he knows God has already searched him. "O Lord, Thou halt searched me and known me." There is the consciousness of this. All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." He knows us thoroughly, and knowing this we can tell God the very worst things we know about ourselves. There is reality when a soul can truly say, "Search me, O God,"

You and I (for we want to make this practical) would sooner drink out of a penny earthen mug if it was clean, than out of a golden goblet covered with diamonds, if it was filthy. So we get in 2 Tim. 2, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel … meet for the Master's use." There is something very blessed in this. I, a poor weak thing, yet will He deign to use me if clean! and so purging myself, I shall 'be prepared unto every good work." Is not this sufficient if meet for the Master's use?

"If we had been in the days of our fathers," etc. (ver. 30). They were on very good terms with themselves, sitting in judgment on their forefathers, yet inheriting the very same character, and persecuting the Lord of the prophets. You can see they were advertising and commending themselves and condemning their progenitors. It makes us think of Rom. 2:1. There is the philosopher, but these were doing the same. It shows their unreality.

In verse 31 we get their family character. They quite inherited the place their forefathers occupied. If we don't see that we cannot understand what follows, that the blood of Abel, etc.,was chargeable to them. They inherited the place. So with Babylon in the Revelation (Rev. 18:24). And all this is the language of the True and Faithful Witness, who will not lie, but deliver souls. Every word is in its place. You may remember that when they asked the Lord in John 8:25 "Who art thou?" Jesus said, "Absolutely that which I also say unto you." There was no difference between, but exact agreement with, what He is, and what He speaks, between Himself and His words.

"Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers, Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (vers. 32, 33). Of course, even in such an one if there was repentance wrought there would be mercy. The Baptist used the same words, "Offspring of vipers" of those that came to be baptised of him.

Verse 34. Both Stephen and Paul did Jesus send afterwards, and this portion makes us think of what Stephen says to them. There are some foolish enough to say that what Stephen said is not correct, yet we are told that he was full of the Holy Ghost, and this therefore precludes the thought of any mistake. He said, "As your fathers did, so do ye." Our verse makes us think of the peculiar day in which our lot is cast. There may be a so-called liberalism, and a comparatively easy path, but we cannot eliminate from the word of God "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." We are bound to suffer in one way or another. It may be in a very hidden way, but still it goes on, and in a far greater degree than many are prepared to admit. I have no doubt that 400 years of Egyptian  oppression commenced with the mockery of Isaac by Ishmael, for they were only 215 years in Egypt. It is better to be persecuted than to be the persecutor. It is beautiful to think there is grace enough to make a man of like passions with us say, "I endure all things for the elect's sake." Paul did not mind, if it was for the good of the saints.

Verse 35. There is a Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who was murdered by Joash, but Zechariah the prophet, who lived long after, is called the son of Barachias. There may be difficulties and we may not be able to make it clear to others, but we know all that God has written is right, and He will be clear when He is judged. The writers were precluded from making any mistake, when giving us the scriptures. For "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." "Pure words": as silver … purified seven times," excludes all error. Of course, where man has touched it you see the result of human weakness e.g., in translation, etc., but it is wonderful how God has not only given but kept His word for us. We have all that God purposed to reveal from all eternity. And I believe He has given all that could be revealed to us. Paul heard what was unrevealable. And oh, how we ought to treasure His truth. Israel was held responsible at any rate for the blood of the martyrs. The meaning of martyr is "witness," whether his blood be shed or not.

That persecuting "generation (ver. 36) — not those only living at that time. There are many scriptures which show the word "generation" used in this way, as for instance, Prov. 30, and also Matt. 24:34, which looks on to a still future day. "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Ps. 12). It may be an unbelieving generation, or a persecuting one, but it has that character. But while the Lord spoke so scathingly about these unreal men, how His heart went out towards Jerusalem! It is called "the city of the great King," and "the holy city," and that even after His crucifixion. "Holy" would be in the sense of being set apart, for it was as being the place where God had set His Name, that it can be so spoken of.

The Lord Jesus is presented in many different characters in the O.T., as for instance, Isa. 9. "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"; and His reigning day is spoken of in very glowing terms when Israel will be the head and not the tail. Thus, looked at in that way, it appealed to the Jew. But there are other scriptures which speak of Him as the down-trodden and suffering one, and they were unprepared to think of Him as such. They would have all the glories but not the suffering, and were not prepared for what Joseph typified. "He shall be called a Nazarene." In the O.T. we do not find these words, but all the prophets spoke in general terms of Him as such. "Thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to enter into His glory." There was absolute necessity for His sufferings if there is glory. Jerusalem, had that character of killing the prophets, and stoning them that "are sent unto thee" (ver. 37).

I suppose you get the thought of protection in the hen. It is wonderful what hens have done to protect their brood. The salutation which Boaz gave to Ruth was, "A full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel under whose wings thou art come to trust" — the wings of Omnipotence! The Lord Jesus never emptied Himself of His Godhead. He had all divine attributes and a constant exercise of His power was keeping all; and what a meaning there is in this gathering them under His wings! "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." The wings in the holiest spread from wall to wall and Jehovah sat above the cherubim. "Ye would not!" I suppose there are many things we can never reconcile, but which nevertheless we can and should believe. There are two parallel lines running right through the word of God that never converge: but we shall see they meet in eternity — God's sovereignty and man's failure. Those, who argue are bound to fall on the rocks of Calvinism or Arminianism. "No man can come to me except the Father which has sent me draw him." It is not like a horse drawing a cart, but more the power of attraction, like Abraham drawn out by "the Lord of glory." He went out not knowing whither he went. We know from the Lord's saying this what deepest reality there is in "Ye would not"! As to all that has been exposed in the earlier verses, the Lord lets us into the secret: "Ye receive honour one from another, and seek not the honour that comes from God Only" (John 5).

Verse 38. What a desolate place it has been! No longer "His Father's," or "His house" for He speaks of it as both (Matt. 21:13; John 2:16), but He had been deliberately rejected. They had sinned away their day of grace. And I am inclined to think that though we preach the gospel to a soul at the eleventh hour, and are told "In the morning sow thy seed" this may be to the little child, and it is wonderful what a little bit of truth God can use to children: and "in the evening withhold not thine hand," this may be to the old man, for God is the God of all grace and we do not knew what he may do to a soul at the last moment. Nevertheless, it is possible, I judge for a soul to sin away its day of grace long before its day of death — one, perhaps having had the prayers and example of a godly father and mother! And have we any in the O.T: more godly than David? I cannot help thinking he had prayed for Absalom, and it was that which brought out that bitter cry at the end. It is very solemn.

Here too, is Israel sinning away its day of grace by its rejection of the Messiah. I am not forgetting "Until ye shall say," etc. That is looking forward to the time when the Lord comes, and you and I also with Him. And I am thinking too how Luke is the Gospel full of super-abounding grace; and when He gives the Lord's commission there to the apostles, they were to begin at the guiltiest place on earth — "beginning at Jerusalem." There were some saved' then. Looking at them, they had cast everything aside, and had not responded to the Lord at all, but where sin abounded grace did much more abound.

Matthew 24

1919 326 We can speak of Matt. 23, as winding up the Lord's public ministry — all those terrible woes; and I have no doubt this chapter is linked with what the disciples had just heard, "Your house is left unto you desolate" — that which had been His Father's house, the one recognised place of worship on the earth. No doubt it cost the disciples some exercise when they heard this. Did not the buildings of the temple look as if they would stand all the ravages of time, built of immense stones? And they draw the Lord's attention to them. From the mount of Olives they got a good sight of the temple. We may well conceive that it would not be without amazement that the disciples heard that not one stone should be left upon another! Of course, in one way it is well to notice that in Scripture the "house" is always regarded as one house. So in Haggai we read, "The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former." A great glory attached to the temple that had been erected by Solomon; and those who remembered something of that glory wept when they saw the one now erected by the returned remnant; but the glory as it will be seen in the millennium will be greater. The temple will be erected in unbelief, yet the Lord will own it; and it is recognised here where He speaks of "the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place," and again in Rev. 11:1-2, it is referred to.

A good deal of Judaism is mixed up in many Christian minds. There is no "place of worship" on earth now, as was once the case. Since Christ's death and ascension, we have no temple on earth (Acts 17:24) for us Christians. Our worship is in "the holies" (Heb. 10:19) where Christ is entered, even into heaven itself (ver. 24). The Father and the Son are the objects of worship, and the Holy Spirit is given to us as the power for it, and heaven the place. We are detached entirely from the world, and we are connected with heaven. It is damaging to the soul when we get on Jewish ground. The house of Isaiah 2 is the temple; and Jehovah's holy mountain the city, though sometimes the expression has a wider meaning than that of the land as e.g., in the verse "they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." Blessing will extend all over the world, but Jerusalem will be the centre. It will be the metropolis. The Lord Jesus will reign over all the world, but His throne will be in Jerusalem. Instead of Israel being the tail, it will be the head. And it will be a favour for the saved of the Gentiles to serve the Jews in that day. The top of the mountain will be above all other powers.

When He gave instruction for the tabernacle we know it was all right, and a beautiful type of Christ and the church, but beautiful colours, precious stones, and metals marked it. It all has a voice to us and all utters His glory. But Solomon's temple must be exceeding magnifical. And it has been said that 5,000 tons of gold were used in it. This all has a meaning to us too, but in Ezekiel's temple the position and the measurements are the important thing, and we get the latter glory which is greater than the former.

In our chapter we do not get the particulars, as in Luke, about the destruction of the temple because it has already been brought before us in Matt. 22:7. We gather from the Gospel by Luke that Peter, James, John, and Andrew, were on the mount of Olives and asked these questions. We do not get everything in one record.

Ver. 3. "End of the world," is a very faulty translation. It should be "end of the age." The millennium is after this, and, as the name indicates, will be a thousand years; so at least its beginning will be a thousand years before the end of the world. The word the disciples used here, is "age." In dealing with the saints of the present dispensation the cross is regarded as the "consummation of the ages," but here it is different, the Lord is dealing with the Jewish remnant. The disciples then present formed on the day of Pentecost the nucleus of the one body and were among the one hundred and twenty then assembled. This was when the baptism of the Spirit took place. "After ye believed ye were sealed," and the Holy Spirit is also the anointing, the power for our understanding the word, and Christians form that "one body," into which we are now baptised by one Spirit.

Ver. 4: Before redemption the disciples represent the Jewish remnant. For in the last week of Daniel there will be a remnant just corresponding with them; but the church comes in between as a timeless, dateless, gap. All believers since Pentecost form the church, and were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world"; but God's earthly people are never so described, but as "from" the foundation.

This discourse is divided into three parts: first, the Jewish remnant, then the church, and lastly the Gentiles; and in this order. But these last are not blest in the same measure as "the church." The word to them is, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Very blessed it is to discern the differences and precision of the word of God.

Ver. 5. This would not deceive a christian. We can see how it suits the Jewish remnant. We are going to meet the Lord in heaven, not on earth. He will descend and we ascend. We know where the meeting place will be, viz., in the air. After this event there will be an indefinite period, to be succeeded by a limited one of seven years — the last week of Daniel's seventy — before His feet stand upon the mount of Olives. The Lord might come today to call us up to meet Him, for there is no prophetic event remaining to be fulfilled before He then comes for every Christian. 2 Thess. 2:1 should make this clear to us. Our gathering together unto Him in the air must precede "the day of the Lord" which is the subject of O.T., prophecy. After the "dead in Christ" are raised and the living saints changed, at the coming of the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4) there will follow the preliminary judgments of Rev. 6. etc. There will be the resuscitation of the Roman Empire and the covenant made with the Jews.

I judge myself that there is nothing to indicate that Rev. 6 is in the seventieth week of Daniel. It is all preparatory, because in chap. 7, the storm of judgment is delayed until an elect remnant out of the twelve tribes is sealed, which marks God's taking up the Jew in a special way. But there have been those who have argued from analogy that as the first advent was divided into two stages, etc., the second will be likewise. The first advent was divided thus — the Saviour's birth when He was born King; then, in Zech. 9. "Thy King cometh." There were thirty years between these two events. So from analogy some would make it a longer period than most of us would. He who now hinders will hinder, till He be gone. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church restrains to a large extent the development of evil.

Ver. 6. All that is in this verse would correspond with the temporal judgment of Rev. 6. God takes peace from the earth. It is terrible now, and no doubt all the world is affected, but then it will be worse! When there is universal war, famine follows. Then come carnage and persecution. Under the sixth seal the earth quakes. I believe the earthquake of Rev. 6 represents the upheaval of the masses, terrible anarchy; and I believe out of that anarchy the Roman empire will be formed, as in chap. 13. it arises out of "the sea," the restless nations (Rev. 18:15). Look at the French revolution! Things got so horrible, anything was better than anarchy. It is better to be under any form of government than none at all. Talk of tyranny, there is no tyranny so great as that of the mob. Out of that French anarchy came Napoleon Bonaparte and the empire — a little picture of what will be. Ever since there have been nations, there have been wars, but nothing like this to which the Lord refers. There is coming a time of "temptation that will be sent to try them that dwell on the earth, but we must not confound this with "the great tribulation" which we have further on in this very chapter.

Ver. 8 shows what I have been trying to point out. The millennium is called "the regeneration" (chap. 20), and this is the beginning of pangs connected with "the regeneration." The Lord points out that the remnant will have an awful time. There are two kinds of Apocalyptic sufferers. Those the Lord speaks of here must be the first company, before the Roman empire is formed. They are seen in Rev. 6:9, where their testimony is given after the church is gone; they represent the godly remnant whom the Lord here anticipatively addresses, and quite in contrast to Stephen and his truly christian spirit. But these in that day will be as right as was Stephen in Christian days.

The learned would have us believe that the imprecatory psalms are the relic of a barbarous age, but we know differently, for the law is not the same as Christianity, and each has its own time with appropriate duties, and they do not exist together. These saints will properly and fittingly call for vengeance. And, "a white robe" — proper saintly character — is given: to them. At the end of Rev. 6. we see what will correspond with Rev. 13 for out of this terrible upheaval will arise the Roman empire — the beast that arises out of the sea to which the dragon will give "his power, and his throne, and great authority." It will not then be "the powers that be are ordained of God," as is the case now. So those that make a compact with the beast are spoken of in Isaiah 27 as making it "with death and hell." That is the interpretation the Holy Spirit gives of it. They make the covenant with the Roman empire to protect them from the Assyrian, "the king of the north."

Well, now, see Rev. 13:15. Those martyrs mentioned in chap. 6 had to rest till this company also had laid down their lives rather than pay homage to the beast. Further on in the book (Rev. 20:4) we see both these companies. Those slain "for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God" are the first company; those "which had not worshipped the beast," the second, i.e., the two companies of chaps. 6, 13. Their "souls" were seen, and now "they lived" — God's way of expressing their instant resurrection, so that they bodily reign with Christ a thousand years.

Ver. 9. It will be so trying a time that we little anticipate how awful the pressure which will be brought upon them. We get a little inkling in the Psalms where we read of their crying "out of the depths." I suppose we all know that the Psalms are divided into five books, each with distinctive character. There will be those who will hate one another. "Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many; and because iniquity shall abound the love of the many shall wax cold" (vers. 10-12). "The many" is the mass (in contrast with the godly remnant), who will make the covenant; but it is he that shall endure unto the end that will be saved (ver. 13). This passage has often been a trouble to anxious souls. Here it is in reference to the awful trial and pressure of God's earthly people in that coming day — being boycotted unless having the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead. "In their forehead" would denote a public owning; "in the right hand" a somewhat secret submission perhaps. Those who are obedient to the Lord's words will escape the worst of it. Those who fail to obey will have to bear the brunt of it.

Ver. 15. There was an idol put up by Antiochus Epiphanes which preceded the Lord's words, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation," flee. It is to Dan. 12. 2 that the Lord refers. Now turn to Rev. 12:14. Those who flee, God will see are miraculously fed. There is nothing said about Daniel in chapter 3 of his book. The events recorded there are prophetic pictures. It is remarkable that Daniel is absent there. It would rather illustrate what we have here. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego passed through the trial, but were miraculously preserved. Even now "coming events cast their shadows before" them, and the state of things of that which bears the Name of the Lord has this effect upon many that their love waxes cold. You need to keep very close to the Lord to stand in such a state of things. I have no doubt that the full force of "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord" is shown by this verse. There will be some miraculously preserved to share the joys of the millennium, but those who lay down their lives will be raised, having their part in "the first resurrection," for at that time it will be a blessed thing to die; but now, if the Lord will that I remain, it is, as Paul said, "worth while," though "to depart" is far better, and better still "to be clothed upon" (2 Cor. 5:2-4).

God will never leave Himself without witness, and when the church is removed, He will work, in His grace, in His earthly people, those spoken of here as the remnant. As we noticed last week, the disciples as they walked along with Christ were the then remnant. A living Christ is for Israel; a risen Christ for the church. After Pentecost the disciples form the church. The church fills up an interregnum; "chosen" in Christ before the foundation of the world. They are called out in a parenthesis of time. We frequently get these interludes. Take Dan. 9, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people" — Daniel's people; times and seasons belong to them, not to us, for our calling is heavenly, not earthly. When God first speaks of the trial of Abram's seed (Gen. 15), He speaks of 400 years; and to one of the captives of Judah He disclosed that "seventy weeks were determined" upon his people — seventy weeks of three divisions, viz., of seven, of sixty-two, and one, a great gap lying between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth during which the church is being formed and completed.

In Luke 4 the Lord opened on Isaiah 61, and finished with the words "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord," not completing the sentence, though but a comma intervenes. The Lord stops at the comma, for He could not go on with what follows, as the "day of vengeance of our God" awaits another day for its "fulfilment." A great gap is here, and unless we see this breaking off of the sentence much would be mysterious. So the Lord was speaking to them as the "remnant," and when the church is gone there will be a corresponding "remnant." The christian has a great many advantages now which the disciples had not. They were not then "joined to the Lord"; there is no such thing in regard to man as "union in incarnation." The disciples had life eternal, but that did not "join them to the Lord. They had faith for without it there could not be life; but faith does not join to Him. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are "joined" — made members of His body. All this is beyond what these dear ones knew in the day of our Lord. He tells them, "In that day," i.e., when the Holy Spirit is given, "ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me," in all His acceptability up there, "and I in you" to live Him out down here.

So you can understand why they should be hated of all the nations. There will be a testimony to all the world, to all the nations of the earth. In spite of all the efforts of Christian missionary work, how, comparatively, the results have been small. I think the Lord has shown that saints will always be "a little flock," while the day of grace goes on. But their ministry will go on till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. The word "fulness" here means that which makes the thing complete. In that way we must read the end of Eph. 1. The complement, fulness — the church is that which makes the thing complete. So when the complete number of the Gentiles is called in, God will begin. with Israel. There has always been an election of grace amongst the Jews.

At the day of Pentecost this our land was full of idolatry; no doubt there has been an election of grace here since the gospel was brought to Great Britain, but it has been true of Israel from the beginning. This remnant will have faith in the Messiah. It is "for my Name's sake" they will be hated. They may wonder that those with such privileges did not make better use of them, but the Epistles will not refer to them. As we read the O.T. let us give the Lord Jesus His proper place, thus we shall have an interest in all that concerns His glory for we are joined to Him, and that will enable us to read the word with far greater delight. We get in Rev. 14. what "the everlasting gospel" is. "Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come; and worship Him Who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." He is coming to deal with evil. It is the everlasting gospel because the first message after the entrance of sin into this world was judgment on the enemy. Here we see pressed on the Gentiles the final call before the judgment falls, Fear God."

I think the gospel of the kingdom partakes of this nature. Repentance is linked with the gospel of the kingdom. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the people for the Messiah, the King; so it will go on, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In the Acts they were told that on the ground of repentance the kingdom should be set up. But they did not repent, and God is still waiting for it, so all the trials of the great tribulation will come on them and they will mourn. There we see the results of that preaching.

False Christs give this a Jewish character. The Holy Spirit is here, and what we are warned of is not that Christ is somewhere in this world, but that evil spirits are here and taking the place of "ministers of righteousness." We are to try the spirits whether they be of God. Fearful things are now being set forth, distinctly of evil spirits, and many are stumbled. Scripture shows there are those who begin well but do not continue. It is so now, and so it will be then. There will be defection among the remnant. When the Lord was here there were many who did not continue to follow Him (John 6:66). It is John's Gospel which gives us these discussions about the Lord. So there will be seen among those in the future many that shall be stumbled.

To the remnant the Lord said, "By their fruits ye shall know them," and there are many places in the O.T. which speak of the same thing (see Jeremiah 23:16 –21), the expression "the latter days" takes us right on to the end. No doubt such things were existing in the prophet's days but the passage looks forward to a yet future day.

We little realize that the Holy Spirit is hindering the power of Satan, and what a terrible time it will be when He is gone! — a time of temptation indeed. There may be a temporary lull while the judgments of Rev. 6 go on. A mighty conqueror first, not so much marked by bloodshed as by great influence. Then God acts and peace is taken from the earth. That is not while the Holy Spirit is here. So whatever is done in any part of the world now, we may be sure there is an even worse time coming. Daniel says, "such as never was." But the Lord adds to it (and the quotation from the O.T. always receives additional light in the New) "and never shall be." Daniel studied Jeremiah, and Micah studied and quoted the prophet Isaiah. Though the worst experience of "the great tribulation" will be in Jerusalem, yet it affects all the world, as we see in Rev. 2:10; Rev. 7:9-14. It is through "much tribulation" the saints now enter the kingdom, but that is very different from "the great tribulation," and so some grow cold and lose their enthusiasm.

Oh, the blessedness of being kept true to God! Some laying down their lives, others miraculously preserved. "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (ver. 13).

Ver. 14. How often it has been taught in connection with missionary labours that the present gospel must be preached among all nations for the conversion of all the world! And how often Psalm 2 is taken up and misread, "Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession," and they leave off there. In John 17 the Lord said, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me out of the world"; but when He has got us safely home, He will ask for the world, and will take it in judgment, and rule with a rod of iron. The saints in the present dispensation who are taught to pray for their enemies now, will then be associated with Him in that judgment when He comes to make war. It is no part of our business to try to put the world right. Supposing we could, and have everything perfect — without Christ, what would be the worth of it? A Christless millennium! The greatest sin of Christendom! The one remedy God has for the world now is the gospel of His blessed Son. Our work is to preach Christ, and to live Christ. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached as a witness. Many will be converted, but the mass of people will reject it and in the next chapter we see the result of this rejection.

Ver. 15: I suppose we all know the word "abomination" means idol. The "abominations of the various nations are spoken of as Baal, Ashtaroth, etc. It is an awful sin worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. Judicially, nothing worse could happen to any soul than that God should give it up. It is a fearful sentence for God to say "Let them alone," of those going on in an evil path. This verse shows us the temple will be rebuilt. It will help us materially if we see this very clearly. "He that reads, let him understand." "Understand" is a great word in connection with the time of the end. "He that understands let him count the number of the beast," and "none of the wicked shall understand but the wise shall understand."

Turn to Daniel 12:1. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation until that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." There is only one archangel, not four. Michael means "Who is like God" and Gabriel means "the strong one of God." Michael is specially linked with Israel. Here we are enabled to look into the invisible world. At that time "thy people shall be delivered." Many think Matthew 24 and Luke 21 speak of the same thing, but they are contrasts. Luke 21 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem. If Matthew and Luke spoke of the same time, were God's earthly people delivered? Quite the opposite. But the end of the tribulation is the time of Israel's deliverance. That is what the Lord is referring to here. It is the two tribes who were at Jerusalem at that time, those we know as Jews.

Turn to Isaiah 11:13. Ephraim is the ten tribes. They will dwell together in unity with Judah in the millennium. Then turn to Ezekiel 37:20-23. The two tribes had Messiah presented to them and were no doubt brought back from captivity for that reason, and they took all the fearful consequences of rejecting Him saying, "His blood be on us and on our children. "The ten tribes have not that guilt, and God deals differently with them. Ezekiel 20:23-38 gives us that. They refer to the ten tribes, Israel — not Judah. They are going to be joined into one; but God will deal with them first. They are often spoken of as the "lost ten tribes, but God knows where they are, and He will bring them out. In that same chapter we referred to just now in Isaiah, we find the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah. There will be the elect number from all the twelve tribes. "So all Israel will be saved," not all the apostates among them, but the whole twelve tribes, but not with every individual among them. Malachi 4:1 tells how He is going to deal with the apostate part of the nation. So the word of God is very clear as to the different way of dealing with the two tribes and the ten. Scripture never contradicts itself, and if we find something that appears contradictory, the thought is not in Scripture but in our views of it.

Matthew 24:15-35

1919 340 Ver. 15. We were noticing last week that what the Lord refers to here is Daniel 12, and it is important to see this. When these events occur there will be a blindness in the mass of the Jews, for they will not be in the secret at all. They will be quite surprised when the Lord returns. These signs will be only understood by the elect. People will be much as they are now in respect to the Lord's coming for His own, scoffers saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? "Every true believer is looking for the coming of the Lord in some way. Intelligence may be lacking as to it, but a true believer wants to be with the Lord. And when Paul speaks about the "crown of righteousness," he says "And not to me only, but unto all them also who love His appearing." Men are willingly ignorant that God has already interfered in the world, and swept one guilty race away. It is the word of God that tells us of the coming of the Lord, and it is the word of God  that tells us about the flood. You see wonderful mercy here on the part of the Lord to warn the remnant that they may escape the terrible storm. There are some who accuse of cowardice those who rejoice that the church will not be here then; but it will be God's chastisement, and who would choose that? And if it would be such a grand thing to be there and endure it, why did the Lord warn them to escape?

There will be this covenant, and according to it the Jews will be allowed to worship according to their ritual; but in the middle of the week (i.e., of the last seven years) idolatry is set up — idolatry of a trinity; for "the dragon," "the beast," and "the false prophet" (the antichrist) will all be worshipped by the idolatrous part of the nation. But those who are obedient to the word will flee away when they see this idolatry set up and it will be very urgent. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains. It is quite evident that all this is Jewish. We Christians will then all be in heaven with Christ.

Ver. 17. From the top of the house there would be a stairway outside leading to the court below. All these verses show the urgent necessity of flight, and withal the Lord's tenderness and gracious consideration for his people in this the time of Jacob's trouble! How greater would be their difficulties if having infants in that hour of urgency and distress! And the Lord, foreseeing all, bids them to pray for the absence of hindrances to their flight (ver. 20). Oh, how He cares! This prayer will be beforehand. From Dan. 12. we see there will be wise ones who shall instruct others in righteousness (ver. 3) for "the wise shall understand" (ver. 10); so when they see this coming they will pray that it be not in the winter when the ravines have rushing torrents, making escape dangerous. Here the Lord prepares them, and assuredly we also can profit thereby. No doubt the reference to the Sabbath is to the Sabbath-day's journey when thus restricted they would be likely to be overtaken. There is no reference in the O.T. to a sabbath day's journey, but there is in the N.T., and it has the Lord's sanction.

Then He shows them "then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time no nor ever shall be." When the Lord quotes scripture further light is given. Indeed we may say that always in the N.T. when there is a quotation from the O.T. additional light is given. So here the Lord goes beyond Daniel by adding "nor ever shall be." It will never be repeated. It will be the most trying experience any nation has ever had. There is that idolatry and they will be forced to have the mark of the beast either openly or secretly. They must be identified with it either publicly or privately, or be put to death, shut off from all the privileges of society. Whatever pressure we are subjected to, there will be far worse coming, and it ought to keep us from grumbling. The Christian is told his afflictions are accomplished in his brethren in the world. If we are pressed and tried, it is quite natural for us to think no one was ever tried like this! There is a hymn. I don't go with at all
"All these sorrows past endurance,
Follow us through life."
He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able. I have no doubt when we are tried we have lessons to learn, and I am sure we all have to own how God has been very patient with us, for we have been very poor scholars.

Then the remnant will be persecuted by their brethren, as well as persecuted by antichrist; and those who delay and do not escape at once will have the door shut. Those in Jerusalem will have two outside enemies, the king of the north and the king of the south,and these while at enmity with each other, are both of them against the Jews. The king of the north is called "the overflowing scourge." He will have a kingdom north of Palestine, a power then occupying the territory now occupied by the Turk north of Palestine, but he will be backed up by another power, possibly Russia. Altogether it will be a bitter, bitter time. Our hearts may well go out in sympathy as His did. We get the principle in Abraham. He was outside. No fire nor brimstone was coming on him, but his heart went out to any who might be there belonging to the Lord, though I dare say Lot had the chief place in his heart when he prayed for the fifty or thirty righteous that might be there.

Ver. 22. How these few words indicate the pressure of that time. The Assyrian is God's instrument in the punishment of Israel. If we turn to Isa. 10:24, we see that very clearly. So after the Assyrian has done his work (though he is quite unconcerned that he is God's instrument, and goes on boasting, God afterwards will deal with him. Those who are used of God to punish His people invariably abuse their commission. Those God thinks of are His elect. Those saved now are His elect, as scripture shows abundantly. There are, too, the elect of God's earthly people, "Israel mine elect," precious to the Lord the remnant of that day. And turning to Isa. 65:17-22, the "new heavens and a new earth" there are not the eternal of Rev. 21, but millennial.

Ver. 23. It would be useless to speak of Christ in this way to the saint of God in this dispensation. We know Christ in a far more blessed way, not after the flesh, Christ on earth is for an earthly people. When He comes for the church He does not come to the earth but in the air, and we go up to meet Him. Afterwards when He comes to the earth we come with Him. Scripture makes a great distinction between the coming of Christ for, and the coming of Christ with, His saints. It is not the Christian hope at all that the Lord is on earth. He is going to stand on the mount of Olives. He will suddenly appear in His temple; this is the Jewish hope. Except in the apostate part true repentance will be wrought in all the nation. They will feel the sin of belonging to the nation that said "His blood be on us and on our children." Compare Psalm 51. Whilst this was David's experience, it will nevertheless be the experience of the future remnant who will feel their blood-guiltiness as David did. God has not in His word formulated Christian prayers and hymns for us, for we have the Holy Ghost; but the earthly people have their psalms and hymns written for them, and they will use them.

"Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Here are the people in whom repentance will be wrought, but see what it is connected with, "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering, and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."

There will again be the sacrifices, but they will be commemorative. The sons of Zadok will have their place again, as we find from Ezekiel. God knows where they are. There is one thing definitely told us that all the nations will be responsible for their treatment of the "gospel of the kingdom." The scriptures will be — perhaps even those being now printed in England — used of God in the hands of future missionaries, the Jews. All things serve His might. At Pentecost there was the reverse of God's judgment of Babel — the confusion of tongues. It is God's wondrous grace shining out there. Babel was the beginning of the nations. But in giving all the nations their places in the world it was all in connection with Israel. There are seventy nations mentioned in Gen. 10, and if we turn to Deut. 32. we find "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel" (ver. 8).

"The Most High" is a millennial title. I have often wondered whether in the millennium there will not be seventy nations. There are more than this number now. Then Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. "It is called the city of the great King," and He will have absolute sway from one end of the earth to the other. The devil will have tremendous power when the Holy Ghost is withdrawn. The Lord is preparing that "generation" for the bitterness of that day, as well as warning them of the false Christ, etc. During the Lord's public ministry there was a terrible display of Satanic power. The Lord was overcoming him, binding him by obedience and dependence, and then spoiling his goods. If it is almighty power it is almighty at all times and everywhere. Satan's power is great, and can be divided. Some of his power is in heaven and some on earth now. He is to be expelled from heaven with his angels and cast down to the earth, his power will be united and concentrated here below. So "there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." There is something very sweet in the Lord's gracious care of the elect. He will not allow them to be deceived.

I was thinking of what He says, in John 10, of His sheep. "A stranger will they not follow," but "my sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me." They are marked in the ear and foot, so here they will be graciously guarded. When the Lord was here "a man approved of God among them by miracles and wonders and signs," they said, "show us a sign." There is something very solemn in this, for I think there is sufficient reason to believe that what they really wanted was an answer by fire as in Elijah's day. We are distinctly told the anti-christ will be able to call down fire from heaven which the Lord refused to do. "Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth. Behold he is in the secret-chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (vers. 26, 27) — a sudden and terrible surprise to the mass of the Jews as well as to the Gentiles, for "every eye shall see Him."

This discourse on Olivet is divided into three parts, first that which takes up what is connected with Israel; then what belongs to the church; and lastly, concerning the Gentiles. All we have looked at up to the present has to do with Israel. To tell of the secret chamber or the desert as applying to us christians we can see would have no bearing, inasmuch as there will be no christians on the earth at that time to be warned. But those who have the scriptures telling them that He will suddenly come to His temple, or that His feet shall stand on the mount of Olives maybe deceived by the testimony of these false prophets. The Lord is guarding the saints of the coming days against these rumours. The elect have a very large place in His heart. It is the elect of Israel in these verses, the elect remnant. The days will be shortened for the elect's sake, so we see how large a place in His heart they have. All this is very different from the coming of the Lord for His church, which will have already taken place. That will be a sudden unexpected filling of His enemies with terror, making them mourn; but when He comes for us the world will only know we are gone. The fulfilling of 1 Thess. 4:16-17 will be secret; for the "shout" here does not affect the wicked dead, but only those who are in relationship to Christ — "the dead in Christ." His voice "all that are in the graves shall hear," indeed, but not all "the dead" at one and the same time. Rev. 20:4-14 shows us that the wicked dead are not raised till a thousand years after the righteous and holy dead. The dead of 1 Cor. 15:51-57 are of believers only, and not of unjust.

People say death is a debt that we have all got to pay, but this verse 51 says "we shall not all sleep." Which are we to believe? What people say, or what the scripture declares? Paul links himself with the believers living when Christ comes. No doubt the world will realise that something has happened, as the people said it thundered when the Father spoke to the Son; but they will find us gone. We must keep resolutely before our souls the coming of the Lord for His saints. Returning to 0ur chapter, what we have here is the coming of the Lord with us as in 2 Thess. 1. I do not care to hear the expression "the Lord's return" in respect to His coming for us, for He will not return to the earth till He comes to judge, and we come with Him. When, as in vers. 40, 41, it speaks of "one taken and another left" it means one taken away in judgment and another left for blessing on the earth. Of course when the Lord Jesus comes for us, it is the reverse of this, i.e., the saints are caught up for blessing, and the unbeliever left for earthly judgment. During the millennium every transgression will be dealt with, yet many may yield but feigned obedience (Ps. 66:3). As we proceed we shall see that before the thousand years reign, there will be the judgment of the wicked living; after the thousand years there will be the judgment of the wicked dead.

"Wheresoever the carcase is" (ver. 28). The carcase is the apostate part of the Jewish nation, that which is most offensive to God — only a carcase! lifeless, fit only for judgment, and the judgment will fall on them, and there will be no escaping it.

Ver. 29. When the Lord comes there will be the overturning of earthly rule and power. Whilst "the stars" are representative of the subordinate powers, the two "great lights" of the heavens are figures of the higher ruling powers — supreme and derivative — once indeed ordained of God. but now ministers of Satan (Rev. 13:2). Immediately He will come and there will be the subversion of all man's boasted civilisation. Even now people wonder at what is going to happen. Well, the worst cannot come while the church is here, for the Holy Spirit is here still in person. Afterwards it will rather be as "the seven Spirits of God." If we weigh what the Lord said in His valedictory address that He shall "abide with you for ever," and know that He formed the church on the day of Pentecost by baptising it into one body, we see that while the church is here the Holy Spirit is here: and when the church is taken to heaven, He no longer abides here thus personally.

The fact of the Holy Spirit being here convicts the world before God, for why is God's Son not here? The world stands guilty. If the Lord Jesus as a divine person while speaking to Nicodemus could say, "the Son of man which is in heaven," the Holy Spirit as a divine person, though gone to heaven, will nevertheless be operating here converting souls. Whenever a soul is born again it is the work of the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of God using the word of God. It may be through the lips of an unconverted man — words spoken in mockery. Balaam and Caiaphas, for instance, God in His wisdom saw good to use in prophesying. In every dispensation, if there has been a work of grace in any soul, it has been by the operation of the Spirit of God through His word.

I believe myself that within the last hundred years God has been wonderfully gracious in recovering for us truths, not revealing new truths, but recovered ones. If we read any of the great Reformers, or the old writers, we see how comparatively little they knew of truth compared with what has been recovered during the last hundred years; while at the same time there has been an enormous energy of Satan, in promulgating such evil things manifestly of him, and most of them emanating from the U.S.A. But we see how these evil doctrines are spreading, and it is deplorable how people are receiving them. The Lord Jesus does not come to us as Son of man. No one ever addressed Him as Son of man, but He often spoke of Himself as such, and He only spoke of Himself as Christ to one, and to one other as Son of God. He generally used the title of Son of man. And if He is refused His glories as Messiah, wider glories are His as Son of man (see Psalms 2. 8).

What verse 30 presents is very different from the way in which Christ comes for His saints. Here He comes with them, and they will all be with Him there. There are scriptures which speak of His coming "with His holy angels," some also "with His saints," some again, with both (2 Thess. 1 ). Again it says, "the tribulation of those days," in another place "the great tribulation." The Lord says, as we have already remarked, "Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." It is the last three and a half years of Daniel's seventieth week. If we go to where the gap commences, it says, "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks." After these sixty-nine weeks (for the sixty-ninth week ends when the Lord Jesus rides into Jerusalem) He is crucified — not in the sixty-ninth week, and, of course, not in the seventieth). Thus, as we have these circumstances at the beginning of the gap before the church is formed, so after the church is gone, there will likewise be an interval, but we do not know how long.

Ver. 31. "And he shall send his angels" etc. In their gathering we have angelic instrumentality as well as human (see Isa. 66:19-20). Then in the next verse we see the very opposite of our part. We are not told to look for any sign. That hymn is quite correct
"No sign to be looked for the star's in the sky,"

They can see things taking place, so can we. We can see things shaping for the coming judgment. There is nothing said about any sign of the Lord's coming for His saints; all that is said to us is "Ye see the day approaching." At Pentecost a temple began to be built, out of which God will get glory for all eternity. It takes in all that are really the Lord's in this present economy. "In whom [Christ] all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord." It never speaks of the body thus growing, for this is looked at as a complete thing. But when you speak of a temple you can speak of the last stone being added; and when this by the gospel of salvation is effected, He will come for us. He will not tarry. Yet it does say, "Ye see the day approaching," but this is not His coming for us but the day of His manifestation. Anyone who is intelligent in the word can look around and see things forming for that day, and we know He is coming before then. It is a moment, an hour, a little while.

The fig tree in scripture is clearly a figure of Israel as a nation: Nathanael was found under the fig tree; and we have the barren fig tree. Luke presents a wider view. Behold the fig tree and "all the trees." In Matthew the Jews figure largely, while Luke looks more at the Gentiles. I should say Egypt would be another of the trees. Look at the revival there. How extraordinary it has been! Since it has been under the wing of the British nation it has come to be a very important place. Now that is a sign if you like, for there is going to be a "king of the south" who is going to play an important part when the church is removed. When the Jews are restored, he will be their enemy: and there will be another who will play a still more important part, and who is called in Daniel the "king of the north," and in Isaiah "the Assyrian."

Matthew 24:34-44

1919 356 The expression "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled," has given occasion for a false interpretation of these verses; and many have sought to prove that it was all fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem. But this won't hold water for a moment, and there are many scriptures both in the O.T. and N.T. which prove that "generation as here, is used in a moral sense. Look at Matt. 11:16, for instance; and again, at Matt. 12:45. The unclean spirit is that of idolatry. We hear nothing of idolatry among the Jews after the Babylonish captivity, but they will be, alas, worse idolaters than ever before! "The unclean spirit" will find the nation in the day that is rapidly nearing, quite prepared to receive him. The Lord shows it is figurative language He is using — an unbelieving, Christ-rejecting, "generation." So the word is used in a moral sense in Deut. 32, Ps. 12, Prov. 30, etc. Other stubborn nations there are, which have been absorbed by their neighbours, but the Jews, in spite of all to which they have been subjected, "'a nation scattered and peeled," have been and will be kept distinct, and brought back to their land in unbelief, to receive the man of sin, the devil's great masterpiece, whom they will receive as their Messiah!

The dispensations are the way God lays out time. First, there was the dispensation of innocence; then of conscience, but without government; then of government, after the flood; then law; and now, if we may speak of this present time as a dispensation, it is that of grace. If we look at the church, we cannot properly so term it, but if as the kingdom of heaven we may. After this comes the reign of righteousness; and finally, the eternal state. Unless we see these several varieties of God's dealings, we do not rightly divide the word of truth. For instance, there has recently been some talk of eliminating the imprecatory Psalms. People feel that it is not christian language, but they do not see that after the church is gone it will be as right for the saints then on the earth to use them as it was for Stephen to pray for his enemies. It would mean confusion if we held that both could be pleasing to God in every measure of time. The word "dispensation" means the ordering of the household.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (ver. 35). Is not this exceedingly sweet for us to meditate on! The child of God knows he has a foundation for his faith more stable than heaven or earth. The Lord speaks of His own words; the word of the Lord endures for ever. How ever men may seek to detract from the word of God, by His grace may we hold fast all God has given to us. The quotation in 1 Peter 1 about the word of the Lord is in reference to being born again, and this is ever by the word of God Himself. It is surprising how small a portion of His word God may use to impart divine life. Here it is the Lord's own words, but the whole word of God has a divine character. We can say, I am sure, that the one who knows most and studies most, and has been taught by the Spirit, feels how he has only just touched the surface of an inestimable treasure. Whatever truth we have is what we have received; no one can boast of originality about truth. Some did at Corinth, and the apostle says "What have ye that ye have not received?"

Ver. 37. Now the very fact of bringing before the disciples the days of Noah would serve to show it bears a Jewish character, for it is Enoch who is the type of the Christian. In Hebrews 11, we have first God making a home for man, then an accepted worshipper, and then one walking with God and who was translated before the waters of judgment came upon the earth. You could not have the rule of grace, and of judgment in the same dispensation. Now it is grace reigning through righteousness. Righteousness is suffering now, but in the millennium it will be righteousness reigning; and then in the eternal state "righteousness will dwell." But Enoch was in the secret of the deluge. You often find there is a partial fulfilment before the final one. So when Enoch had a son he called him Methuselah, which means "after his death it is sent," and his age exactly reaches to the deluge. Does not all this prove that Enoch was in the secret of the judgment at T hand, as well as that which is still future as recorded by Jude? That was his prophetic word, but he was taken away before the deluge. Just what God will do for us, who are to be kept "out of the hour of temptation" which is to try the dwellers upon earth.

The Lord speaks of Himself as the "Son of man." No one ever addressed the Lord Jesus as such, and when that title is given Him in scripture it is either as suffering, or exalted. He suffered here and God has exalted Him and put everything under His feet, and given Him higher and wider glories because He was denied His rights here. When He comes as Son of man it is in judgment, and coincides with His revelation or manifestation, that is His coming with all His saints. When He comes for His church it is in purest grace, and it is most important to see this; not a hint is there of judgment when He comes for His own. So those who talk of His only coming for a certain portion of His church really know nothing about it. Only think of a mutilated body! Only think of part of a bride taken! As we said last week, we cannot properly speak of the last "member" being added to "the body" (Acts 2:47 is "The Lord added together"). But there is a "building," a temple being built of "living stones," not yet completed but "growing" unto a holy temple — a divine building together, not man's, about which the Lord says, "I will build my church and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. When the last stone is added to this growing temple it will be complete, and then "He that shall come will come and will not tarry." He will not tarry, but He tarries till then. "While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." But God will never have His gospel preached to mock souls; and so when preaching it one has the thought that this temple is not yet complete, there is another stone to be added. When it says, "whether we wake, or sleep," the sleep here is that of death; but in the words "they that sleep, sleep in the night," it is moral.

In our very next chapter it speaks of the true saints of God getting into a sleepy state, they began to nod, and got into sleeping places (churches and chapels) that is, we have indifference to Christ, which is saddest of all. Although the church will be taken away it will be only a nine days' wonder, and so the Lord says here, They "knew not till the flood came" etc. (ver. 39). Those in Noah's day were willingly ignorant, and that is what the apostle Peter deals with in his Second Epistle. I do not think that Peter distinguishes the parts of the coming, but speaks generally. They are willingly ignorant but God interfered by the deluge. God has recorded it, so they can know it; and they are willingly ignorant also of the Lord's coming, for the same word reveals both.

I suppose perhaps the oldest book in the Bible is the Book of Job. At any rate, it bears the same relation to the poetical books as Genesis to the historical; so it is very early — after the flood, but before the law. And let us think how over 3,000 years ago it was written there, "Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull genders and fails not, their cow calves and casts not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. They spend their days in wealth and in a moment go down to the grave, therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job 21:8-14)!

They are "willingly ignorant" and "the mind of the flesh," man in his whole being "is enmity against God." Nothing shows the necessity of a new nature clearer than that. There was feasting etc., going on when "the flood came and took them all away." "So shall also the coming of the Son of man be," and I suppose there must have been a tremendous population on the earth then. And no flesh was visible. It was either shut in the ark or under the water. "The end of all flesh." God will be justified in His sayings, and it is a wonderful mercy for God to give us faith in the plenary inspiration of His word. There is many a thing that forms a wrong impression on our mind because we have only a partial knowledge about it, so let God be true, if ever there is a difficulty, and every man a liar, including myself.

What all the great minds of the world are trying to find out, namely, the mysteries of nature, the Spirit of God calls them shallow things, the things of this creation; and even to these, man has no line long enough to reach. But we have the deep things of God in this divine revelation, and man's mind can never fathom them. We do not know what changes took place on this earth at the time of the flood, but there is abundant evidence that there have been tremendous catastrophes on the earth's surface. And the way in which the Bible opens, is quite enough for a simple believer to see that God did not create it in a state of chaos.

When but "waters," it was by His fiat the dry land appeared. I believe there is very beautiful typical teaching in this. But there is room enough between the first and second verses of Genesis 1. for all the geologic ages. If we consider the typical teaching, we see, first, man in his fallen ruined condition and the spirit of God active there; then there is a voice that speaks — the word of God, "Let there be light; then on the third day there is a standing for man which never could be but for the work on Calvary.

"Then shall two," etc., "one taken, the other left" (ver. 40). Although it is a fact that when the Lord comes there will be what would correspond with this, yet where judgment is before us, as in these verses, it is one taken in judgment and the other left for millennial blessing on the earth.

The whole discourse is divided into three parts, the first is Jewish, ending with verse 44. Then in the second part the saints of this dispensation are in view, as servants to care for the household (vers. 43 to 51); as virgins to watch for the Bridegroom (25:1-13); and as servants to occupy till He come (vers. 14-30). Lastly (25:31-46), the Son of man comes in His glory, when all the Gentile nations will be dealt with. We need to weigh all this well. May we all be found watching, for the Lord says in Mark, "What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." We are to wait for, to watch, and also to be found doing or serving. The young Thessalonians turned to God from idols to wait for His Son from heaven; we should ever be "waiting" and "serving" as there is also the contrast between sleeping and watching.

Ver. 43. I judge the "goodman (or, master) of the house" etc., is a word for the remnant really to be ready when the Lord comes to them. As a matter of fact Satan is the God of this world. There will be some that will be wise and understand, though they won't understand what we know, but they will understand what we do not, the things that refer to them, as for instance the number of the beast, it will be clear to them as daylight.

Matthew 24:44-51.

1919 The first division of this discourse on the mount of Olives finishes with verse 44, and is followed by what pertains to the Christian profession. We should not mix up the two things. From verse 45 to 25:30 the title of "Son of man" disappears, and instead of His coming to judge the world as Son of man, it is as Master and Bridegroom for blessing. Surely the thought of His coming as Bridegroom and Judge would be a manifest incongruity! You cannot mix up a marriage, and a judgment scene, together. One is a season of joy, the other of terror. Scripture does not present the Lord Jesus coming as a thief to His bride! In the Book of the Revelation (we all know chaps. 2 and 3 give us God's "Church History" — the history of what was set up from Pentecost as God's responsible witness on earth" the pillar and stay of the truth"), we get in chap. 3 Sardis, and Sardis represents Protestantism; and in Rev. 3:3 we read, "I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know in what hour I will come upon thee." That is, the Lord will treat cold, dead Protestantism as He will the world. The Reformation was of God; but Protestantism is what it has become in the hands of man. A thief is unwelcome and unexpected.

One would not like to think, nor does Scripture give ground for such a thought, that He will come as a thief to a true saint of God, one who really loves the Lord. "All them that love His appearing" — this is not a special condition of soul in some Christians only, for everyone who really loves Him, loves His appearing. Then again, "To them that look for Him shall He appear"; the looking for Him may perhaps be wanting in intelligence of His coming, but their hearts are, surely, wanting to see Him "Whom not having seen we love." The pious Jews in the time of the nation's trouble will indeed cry out of the depths, and say, "Oh, that thou wouldest rend the heavens, and come down." This expression "the second time," in Heb. 9:28 is not without significance, as being equally applicable to the remnant then, and to the saint now. No doubt the Epistles of Peter and the Gospel of Matthew will be very interesting to the remnant.

Do not let us forget that the Son of man, when He comes, comes to judge. And to one subject to the word this clears it. John 5 shows that as Son of God He quickens souls, and as Son of man He judges (see verses 21 and 27). Just see the difference further on in John's Gospel. Lazarus is dead, and the Lord Jesus says, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God (not the Son of man) may be glorified thereby. He is about to quicken Lazarus, as Son of God; and in Rom. 1 it says, "declared to be Son of God with power by resurrection of [the] dead," not "from." So in the resurrection of the Lord Himself, or any dead person raised by Him, He was declared Son of God with power. It is not there "from" — that well-known phrase — but "of" the dead. Now in John 13 after Judas is gone out, the Lord says, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself and shall straightway glorify Him." There He is, up there; given the highest place in glory; all things put under His feet as Son of man.

That is where the connection comes in between Heb. 2 and Ps. 8. So if we look at the Lord Jesus as Son of man, He is either in the suffering part, or in exaltation. "The Father judges no man"; but there is a way in which He deals with His children in government, as in 1 Peter 1; but that is very different from judgment as spoken of in John 5. The very name of Father is connected with grace, and when the Father and Son are united it is in the activities of grace. So when the Son of man comes we shall come with Him in our glorified bodies. He is ready to judge the living and the dead. He knows everything perfectly. When He comes as Son of man He will judge the living, and after the thousand years, the dead.

Now if we go back to Matt. 24:30, and connect it with Matt. 25:31 we see how they are linked up. Read them together. The "throne of His glory" is to convey to us this thought, He does deal with some in a very summary way like the armies in Rev. 19 who are slain, and who will be raised again at the "great white throne," to have meted to them their right portion of judgment; not to decide whether they are saved, or lost, for this is decided now, not then (John 3:18). While all will be manifested at the "judgment seat of Christ," it is not that all are manifested at the same time. When we who have believed are there, we shall be in glorified bodies, like unto the Lord Jesus, and no sin can ever be charged against us as guilt, but our whole moral being will be shown to us, as God sees it. No terror is connected with this our manifestation, but great blessing. There will be perfect acquiescence on our part, as we see the full depths of our moral degradation in the light of God's super-abounding grace. And our praise and worship will be all the greater. It is after that summary judgment of Rev. 20 that these nations of Matt. 25 are dealt with in a sessional way, not suddenly as by lightning, etc. They will be dealt with according as they have treated the witnesses sent out with "the everlasting gospel" — the gospel of the kingdom. Those that fear God and show that fear by the way they treat the messengers will have it said to them, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." People talk of it as the final, general, judgment. There is no such thought as this in the whole word of God. It is the judgment of the living nations, and I do not think there is anything to indicate that these will stand before the great white throne. These nations go either into everlasting punishment or into millennial blessing. There are three classes, "My brethren," "the sheep," "the goats," He that rejects you, rejects Me; that is the point of it.

Well then, during the Lord's absence you get the household, We have had abundance of scripture to show that when the Lord is rejected as Messiah there is blessing for those who are outside the Jewish circle, This is instruction about what takes place during His absence from this earth. Here it would have to do with the responsibility of those who are His servants in the household, the ministry of His word to the saints, rather than of the gospel to the world. And those that have His approval are called by Him "faithful and wise," or, prudent, Further on where it is a question of gospel testimony, it is good and faithful — not good and successful. The Lord will make no mistake. As far as we read this, it would be unbecoming of us to say, That is I.

Turn to Luke 17:3-5. They thought evidently it would want a tremendous lot of faith to go on those lines. Then the Lord said (ver. 6), "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree"; this tremendous difficulty, faith can remove it. Well, suppose it does, and you carry this out, you must not have high thoughts of yourself and think you are a very gracious or excellent brother. "When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done what is our duty to do." If you have gone on that course, forgiving seven times a day, if that is your character, say of yourself "Unprofitable," not "Good and faithful." It is blessed for Him to say it, but it is only becoming for us to say, "We are unprofitable servants." It is well to remind ourselves of this.

"Meat in due season" (ver. 45). How blessed to be used of God to minister in any way that which is suitable to His precious saints! Look at the apostle Paul. He could not give the Corinthians what he could give to others; he gave them milk. They were babes, worldly-wise no doubt, and comparing themselves with themselves, and with him too, but they were only babes spiritually, and he told them so. "Perfect" means there "full grown," that is, not babes. Others had been babes; but were now grown and become perfect, or, matured, Christians. There is a sense in which we are said to be "perfect"; and another in which we have not already attained, or are already perfect (Phil. 3). We shall be when in our resurrection bodies. A "perfect" christian now is one who has learnt of the Lord what true christianity is, though there remains still room for growth. The scriptures show we have been crucified with Christ, have died with Christ, been raised up together with Christ, and seated in heavenly places in Christ. One who has learnt Ephesian and Colossian truth is full grown. As we have already said, there is always room for growth, but that is the thought. A large number mix christianity and Judaism, and a person who prays "Incline our heart to keep this law," you cannot conclude to be a full grown christian.

In 2 Peter 1:17 we are told that the prophetic word is a lamp shining in an obscure place. The church is not the subject of prophecy. True christian experience is the "day dawn" "arising in the heart" — Christ but in the dawn, and Himself the "morning star" is the proper hope of the church. When I know Him as such I am far in advance of all prophecy can teach me. It is only "a lamp," and I have "the morning star."

Verses 46, 47. The servant used in this way must be kept in communion with God to give the saints food, and in due season. Everything will be rewarded; nothing forgotten. But there is not only "the faithful and prudent servant who has sought grace to carry out this, but there is the evil servant, and he becomes a tyrant. It does not say he gets drunk, but there are evil associations (vers. 50, 51). Luke 21:34 throws light on the word "drunken," and so does 2 Peter 3:17, after showing the fearful character of the last days; and just at the moment this scripture is exceedingly important. There is the danger of being led away by the error of the wicked, and falling away from our own steadfastness, for the wicked do lead away and damage souls. But "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." That is the remedy, that will save us, and that only will save us from being led away by the error of the wicked. The wicked servants began very early. The early Christians went out from Judaism, from the world, to meet a coming Christ; but the very germ of the evil servant we get in the Apocalyptic address to the church in Ephesus, "Thou hast left thy first love." It is not of the Holy Spirit when people put a lot of things before the Lord's coming. Paul could say, showing it as the proper hope of the christian, "We which are alive and remain," not "they" only, but "we," a present operative soul-comforting hope that the Lord may come at any moment to take us home. And it is another spirit when things are put in between, and leads to bad results — going on with the world, and doing as the world does — and the Lord shows us His judgment of this in ver. 51. Heb. 11:37 shows that cutting asunder was a punishment not unknown.

Matthew 25:1-12

1920 9 "The kingdom of the heavens" supposes the King, not on earth but in heaven. It did not commence till He was rejected on earth and received up in glory. The third heaven is the very highest blessedness a creature can enter — paradise. We get it three times in the N.T. First (Luke 23:43), a redeemed soul in the disembodied state is received there after the Saviour's death; second (2 Cor. 12:2-4), a living saint is taken up to paradise (whether in the body, or out of the body, the apostle could not tell). And we ought to be very thankful for this revelation, as there are many now who deny eternal judgment, and ridicule the idea of any consciousness out of the body. If this were true, how could Paul say, "whether in the body, or out of the body" he knew not? Thirdly, there is another mention of it when we are glorified. "To him that overcomes, will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7) — our eternal home.

You do not get the bride named here, but the Bridegroom; it is a parable to show us the necessity of being ready, and of having the possession of oil in our vessels. The portion of this discourse that pertains to the children of God between Pentecost and the coming of the Lord, commences at verse 45 of the previous chapter, and is carried down to verse 31 of this chapter, where it begins a new section. So you get in this Olivet discourse, first, the Jews; then, what God is doing at the present time; and finally, the Gentiles after the church is no longer here.

This then is what the kingdom of heaven (ver. 1) can be likened unto. "Then (at that time) shall the kingdom of the heavens be likened unto ten virgins," etc. That this is the correct interpretation is confirmed by the fact that though in ver. 13 the words "wherein the Son of man cometh" are found in our A.V. they have really no right there, and in this omission all Editors agree, including our Revised Version. "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour." One can readily see the temptation for a copyist to insert what he imagined was required to complete the sentence, as in verse 44 of the preceding section.

In these verses (1-13), we have true and false profession — virgins who went in to the marriage, and virgins shut out from it. This could not be said of the bride. For all who form the bride will enter within with the Bridegroom. The five wise, or prudent, virgins here represent those who elsewhere do form the bride. The lamp is profession. If a man professes to be a Christian he is supposed to have light. In Phil. 2:15 it is not lamps, but heavenly luminaries. In Luke 12:35 we get the girdle and the lamp. The oil is the Holy Spirit. It is quite a different thought in Luke to what it is here. You cannot associate a wedding feast with a court of judgment. The thought of a judge is one of terror, and trembling would be connected with it; a wedding is a joyous season. In the "virgins" you get the thought of purity, "I have espoused you … to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ," said the apostle and in Rev. 14 those are called "virgins" who are not defiled with the corrupt systems of the world. So these are professed Christians who go forth to meet the coming Bridegroom. He has been the coming Bridegroom from the very first. "If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto myself." So it has always been presented as a present, and not a deferred hope. A deferred hope in the heart has a disastrous effect on the soul. Even if aged we ought to remember that the Lord is near, and may be here before we have finished our journey. This could not be "the remnant" going, or coming, forth to meet the Bridegroom, for they have to stay in the land till He comes; but the Christian, has to go forth. So they go forth to meet the Bridegroom, the Coming One. He was the coming One in the O.T. You get both comings in the O.T., His coming to suffer, and His coming to reign, but you could not there get His coming as the Bridegroom. That was a mystery not revealed till Ephesians. We get foreshadowings in the O.T., even of God's present ways with His own. For instance, Enoch taken away without dying before the judgment which fell in Noah's days, when a remnant is carried through the judgment for the peopling of a renovated earth. Then again, what more striking than Rebekah conducted through the desert to the land of Canaan by Eliezer the trusted servant of his master Abraham, to be united to Isaac raised (in figure) from the dead. Is not this the Holy Ghost's leading of a people now, through the wilderness for Christ the heavenly Bridegroom?

Of the ten virgins, five were wise, prudent, and five were foolish. Now what do we gather from the word "prudent" as distinguished from foolish? The prudent foresees the evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished. He makes provision and hides himself; and in Luke 16 we find the unfaithful steward acted "prudently." One must not think his evil conduct is approved by the Lord. It was his earthly master who approved his foresight in providing for the future. "And I say unto you," Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when they fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations. That is, what is committed to you, use with an eye to the future. This is the lesson for us. An old writer says to a Christian possessed with wealth, "The Lord is loath for you to use your wealth, He wants you to put it into safe keeping, and there is none so safe as His." The wise virgins are prepared for the future — for the coming of the Lord; the foolish are not prepared. These take their lamps and their wicks. It is a night scene, the wick is lit, but it does not last long — only human energy, not the sustained power of the Holy Spirit. Oil is a well known type of the office of the Holy Spirit. It was used in the consecration of the priest, and we find it referred to in Psalm 133, "The wise took oil," it was not merely profession, but the Holy Spirit the power for testimony. He it is by whom we are anointed.

While the Bridegroom tarried they all grew heavy, or nodded, or were drowsy. It was not a sudden but a gradual thing. "He will not tarry." Directly the company forming the church is completed, He will not tarry. The building is not yet complete. God is still calling out those who will form that temple, but when the last stone is added there will be no God-sent messenger telling out the gospel of His grace as now. Now He tarries; both expressions are right in their proper place. When both the tabernacle and the temple were complete God took possession. I judge this is what is referred to it in the address to the first of the seven churches in Rev. 2. There was a lot in Ephesus to commend; one could wish the church now was like it in much. Yet, "I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love." If first love is lost there is not the longing for the coming Bridegroom, there is not in the heart the blessed hope of seeing Him. If you take church history, you find the hope of the Lord's coming was soon given up. Right through there was the thought of His coming in judgment, but that is not the hope of the church. It is only of comparatively late years that this hope has been revived. Then they get into sleeping places; and the different ecclesiastical systems are sleeping places for the church.

These virgins took their lamps for the honour of the Bridegroom. When the cry went forth they all arose, it produced activity. And I suppose there has been immense activity since that cry went forth say eighty years ago. It has gone forth; and so nearly every christian knows something of the coming of the Lord.

The hope of the Lord's coming was soon given up, not only by the false but by the true Christian. We get not only the false professor but also those who have the Holy Ghost, for there are things that may be common to both. All carried the lamp of profession, all went out to meet the coming Bridegroom, all got drowsy, all fell asleep, and they have to be called out of their sleeping places the second time. It is a comforting and a sanctifying hope. "Everyone that has this hope on Him purifies himself even as He is pure," and though it is not definitely stated, I do not think we can make much mistake about it, that though there was so much to commend in Ephesus, the most beautiful order and work and care for the Lord's honour, "Nevertheless, I have against thee," — not "somewhat," as though it was something small for it was a very solemn thing — "that thou hast left thy first love." If that is gone the hope of the Lord's coming is gone too. "Ye have need of patience," that is what we need, to patiently wait for the Lord, "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come and will not tarry." His last word was, "Surely, I come quickly," there is no mistake about it. And the right attitude for saints in the interval through all time is "to wait for His Son from heaven."

Of course this is very searching. They might be all attired alike, and they all had lamps which speak of profession, but the foolish lacked the great essential, the Holy Spirit. There are various symbols which speak of the action of the Holy Spirit. In Exodus the oil for the light would signify the power for testimony. Then the Lord speaks of the wind, and a dove is used, and fire, and living water. If it is water alone it is the word, but where it is living water it is invariably the Holy Spirit and is so explained in John 7. So there are a great number of symbols. I suppose there was the needs be, for these to be called out again, an act of grace to those who were asleep. "Behold the Bridegroom!" the Coming One. They had started out to meet Him at the first. This midnight cry has gone forth. It was lost through the centuries until the last century, but it has gone throughout the world and it has produced activity, not only among true saints. It is a common expression, 'Oh, do you see the coming of the Lord.' A person may be able to discourse of these things, but have we the Holy Spirit? "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." — there is no real union with Christ.

It is not faith that joins to the Lord, as often stated, nor is it life, but the Holy Spirit. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit." The disciples had faith, and they had life, but there is no union with the Lord in incarnation. It is in resurrection. "Being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He has shed forth this." All those who have the Holy Spirit are members of Christ, and of one another. Of course I quite grant that this is not brought out in the verses we are considering, but what is here shown is the absolute necessity of having the Holy Spirit in order to be "ready." It is not were they expecting the Bridegroom, but had they the oil? It is not a question of intelligence. We love Him because He first loved us. And John's First Epistle shows us that the babes had an unction from the Holy One. If they have, we know also that the young men and the fathers have. But we must not confound the new birth with the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the word and the Spirit we are born again, but subsequent to this I get also the Holy Spirit given to me. The disciples who could not be "joined to the Lord" in incarnation, were nevertheless born again; so were the O.T. saints; "but the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Verse 7. There was this activity produced; they arose and trimmed their lamps, a getting ready for the coming bridegroom. It is not the collective thought of the bride, as in Rev. 22, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come," but the individual condition of soul, either with, or without, the Spirit. It is subsequent to believing, that we are sealed, but the time between being born and the sealing varies. God does not act in precisely the same way with all. For instance, Philip went down to Samaria and there were a great many conversions, and great joy in that city; yet they had not received the Holy Spirit. Simon Magus also "believed," but he never received the Holy Spirit.

There was great animosity between the Jews and Samaritans, and if these last had received the Holy Spirit independently of the Jews, we can see there might have been rivalry and division in the church from the first. They did not receive the Holy Spirit until the apostles went down. Then they became part of the church and not till then.

Take again Cornelius. Is it possible for a man in his sins to have his prayers and alms come up before God as a memorial? Not so. Yet Cornelius had to "hear words whereby he should be saved." It was an unique company. As Peter the prepared vessel gave the message, they believed, and the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word, and this before they were baptised. We must not confound salvation with divine life. When the soul has life, it needs deliverance. There was a work of grace in the experience of the one in Rom. 7. When there is a work of grace in the soul there is trouble about sin, and because of the two natures which the believer has, there is indeed the desire to do the good, but no power. For this the Holy Spirit is needed. Rom. 7 is not christian experience properly so called, but the exercises of a truly "converted" soul not yet delivered. Rom. 8 is christian experience, for there is now freedom from the law of sin and death, and the power of the indwelling Spirit. Directly a soul is born of God that soul is sanctified, set apart, and safe. If you take the type in Ex. 12 you see the children of Israel quite safe under the blood seen by God; but not a word about "salvation" till chap. 14, where, in verse 13 mention is made for the first time.

Verse 9. The wise cannot give of their oil. We cannot impart the Spirit to another. God alone can give the Spirit. Sometimes He gave it without any human instrumentality, but at other times He used the apostles by the laying on of hands; but we do not find it given by anyone after the days of the apostles.

In Acts 19 we find twelve "disciples" at Ephesus who had profited by the testimony of John the Baptist, but had not yet heard that the Holy Ghost was now here. We must not confound the two — the new birth or being quickened by the Holy Spirit, with the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is always an interval between the two, however short it might be in some cases; but none born again will pass off this scene before receiving the gift. Baptism always, in the scriptures, is at the beginning of the christian course, but I do not think it has the same importance now as in the early chapters of the Acts. If you take the commission to the disciples in Matt. 28, or in Mark 16, you find baptism in both, but when Paul received his commission (Acts 26:17-18), there is not a word about baptism. Paul said, "Christ sent me not to baptise," though He did baptise; but it was not part of his commission. No one preached repentance more than the apostle Paul. Take Acts 17. "The times of this ignorance God winked at," He never winks at sin, but He did at ignorance, "but now commands all men everywhere to repent." You cannot have anything stronger than that. Baptism is unto the death of Christ. The necessity some attach to it as giving life is foreign to Scripture. It is always unto death. You get death and resurrection in the Red Sea, and there you get them baptised unto Moses. Christian baptism is outwardly putting on Christ.

It is God alone Who can give the Holy Spirit, and the way He sells, if one may so speak, is "without money and without price." It is no question of merit but of receiving, and the one who receives God's testimony to the work of Christ receives the Holy Spirit. It is spoken of as "the gospel of your salvation"; it brings in resurrection. The dying thief was born again, there was repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, but he did not belong to this dispensation, and does not form part of the church therefore, but he got as good a title to glory as any saint who ever lived, Abraham, or the apostle Paul himself, for the title is the blood. Those in the glory we hear sing, "Thou art worthy, for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to God by Thy blood." If God in His sovereignty leaves us here for a while and gives us grace to live to His praise, we must not mix this up with title; for the title of every believer is the precious blood of Jesus Christ alone. And the way the dying thief was saved is the way everyone is saved — all of mercy, all of pure grace, and this excludes the thought of merit.

Verse 10. All indwelt by the Holy Spirit will be "ready," and all go in no matter what a person's service, or intelligence. If they have not the Holy Spirit they will not go in. It is a searching word. A soul resting on the value of the blood, is the one whom God seals with the Spirit. If you are full of yourself and your own importance, you will never be filled with the Spirit. If a tumbler is half filled with water you cannot fill it with oil, without getting rid of the water, though you may fill it up with oil. If we are filled with the Spirit we are emptied of ourselves. A christian may not always be "filled with the Spirit," though sealed. John the Baptist was filled from his birth though that was exceptional. If a soul is full of the Spirit he will not think of himself. Stephen was "full of the Holy Ghost," and he was occupied with Christ. In every case the thought in buying is making one's own, not the thought of the price paid. If God gives it me it is mine as much as if I paid for it.

Verses 11, 12. There had never been any personal dealings between the Lord and these foolish virgins. He will never tell a poor sinner who has come to Him, "I never knew you." There is a moment coming when the door will be shut; and it will never be opened again. Those outside will have sinned away their opportunities. God's house will be filled, there will be no vacant seat. Verse 2 is not presented as in Luke, where those outside seem surprised, saying, "We have eaten and drunk in thy presence and thou hast taught in our streets." There it is a class of people resting on their privileges. It is possible to share in all the privileges of the assembly, except life, as in Heb. 6; and without divine life the soul is lost. If one has life, he cannot be lost. "I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish." In Luke 13:25-27 is surprise; but here, in Matthew, the cry of despair. Not everyone who uses the expression "Lord, Lord," shall enter in. One who is right with God will exalt Christ, and his ministry will partake of that which owns His Lordship. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." God reads the heart and He knows if you believe; if you do, you are righteous before Him, and "confession is made to salvation."

Matthew 25:14-30.

1920 25 In this section of this discourse beginning, as we have already observed, at verse 45 of the previous chapter, it is very noticeable that there is nothing about Jerusalem or Judea. I mention this because it confirms what has been said about it, that it takes up with the Christian during the Lord's absence, whilst later in verse 31 we have before us "all the nations," and their treatment of the Gentiles — Jewish messengers of the gospel of the kingdom after this present period has run its course. I refer to the reception accorded to those who are here called His "brethren." Their gospel would be in connection with God as Creator and Judge, and those that fear God are manifested in their treatment of the messengers.

There are two Old Testament scriptures that bring this before us very definitely. In Israel's tribulation in Egypt, the two mid-wives feared God, and regarded not the the king's edict. So in Ahab's time, during the tribulation of the three and half years' drought, Obadiah feared God exceedingly and fed the prophets of Jehovah by fifty in a cave.

Well, coming back to our subject, we have in these verses (14-30), those left in responsibility during the Lord's absence; and the One who is sovereign and infinitely wise, gives to one five, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his several ability; and straightway takes his journey. The servants were responsible to make a right use of what was committed to them. The one that had five trafficked with them and made double; and the one that had two did the same. They knew their Master, they knew His love and His goodness; the one that so terribly failed did not know Him, but misjudged Him. Love is the motive power. There are contrasts between this and Luke 19. It is wonderful the blessing here presented, to which they are introduced, not only kingdom rule, but "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." It is more the sovereignty of God which comes out in our Gospel. The Lord knows what to commit and it is according to one's several ability, for we are not all alike as to this — to each one. Intelligence here is supposed, if they have proper knowledge of their Master and of His character. We are besought in Rom. 12. "by the mercies of God" — grace is so different to law — to present our bodies, a living sacrifice, etc. Nothing short of this is becoming for us, but then if we know the love of Christ, His love constrains us to live, not to ourselves, but to Him. It is a poor thing to be aiming at rewards. They are given as encouragements, but not as a motive. The motive should be the love of Christ. Love only wants opportunity to serve. I suppose "the mercies" are what are found in the epistle, up to the end of the 8th chapter. but in view also of the wonderful wisdom, and ways of God as brought out in chap. 9 — 11. Wondrous mercies indeed! When we think of the fearful immoral state of the Gentiles in chap. 1, and then where we by grace are now brought, what a paramount call to us to present our bodies a living sacrifice!

With these servants it was the one who had the least responsibility that failed. Has not this a voice for us? There is a greater temptation to be lax when one has little, than when one has much! This one who had the one talent and did not know his master evidently was a lost soul, shut out from all blessedness. Then what is this one talent? How can one have a talent from God do you say and yet be lost? For John 10 is so clear and speaks of our security most blessedly. But if the talent is light, that may be possessed by one without life, as we see from Heb. 6. It is possible for one to share in all the outward privileges of even the assembly, and yet — not having life — be lost! Here they are "servants," but not every one who is a servant has "life." Had Judas life? It shows how far a person may go in service when they can say, "In Thy Name we have cast out demons, and in Thy Name have done many wonderful works," but what says the Master? "I never knew you!" They had not apostatised. He never knew them. That verse in Hebrews refers to the apostolic age, because it speaks of the "powers of the age to come." What the Lord did in works of mercy, these are samples of what He will do in the millennium. In the plenitude of His grace He healed them all, and do we not sing —
"He'll give these bodies vile,
A fashion like His own;
He'll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan."
Those who try to prove from Heb. 6 that a Christian can be lost, fail to understand the passage rightly, because it is impossible for the one there to be renewed; so this upsets their theory entirely. It contemplates the case of a Jew being baptized, etc., and then going back to Judaism.

We should never think ourselves "good and faithful." The Lord has told us what to think of ourselves in Luke 17. How many times shall I forgive my brother? That is the point. It is an awful thing to stumble one of the Lord's little ones. So, "take heed to yourselves. If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him." The apostles saw that that presented a very great difficulty, to persevere in that course. So they said unto the Lord, "Increase our faith," the Lord said, "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this Sycamine tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it should obey you." That is, whatever difficulty stands in our way of doing it will be removed if there is faith; but if one does so the Lord warns us from thinking of ourselves as anything but "unprofitable servants." If we have done everything, we are to say it! But then we want the Lord's "Well done." Not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

In verse 21 there is something more than ruling in the kingdom, what is special, and blessed indeed. The one with the two talents was faithful too. It is only a little we can do "over a few things." "I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." We are going to reign with the Lord Jesus, when the reigning day comes. But as to the special place and portion, we have to wait and see. There are some that have been told beforehand. Ye which have followed me … shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." James and John wanted the best place; so did Jonathan in David's days. Poor Jonathan! Yet he did not continue with David. He commenced well indeed, but he went back to the city.

Some Christians have said to me, "There are many things I would like to remember; what are the things behind that we are called to forget? "I think a safe rule is to remember the things that would humble us, and let us forget the things that would puff us up. The difference between the Corinthians and the Hebrews was, that while both were babes the Corinthians were never anything else. The Hebrews, however, had progressed while their leaders were living, but had gone back after their decease, and had become like those that had need of milk; the sad result of bad doctrine through Judaizing teachers.

All our privileges are connected with the Holy Spirit. And there is distinct teaching about the Holy Spirit in every chapter in Ephesians. The Colossians were in danger of losing "the Head," so they needed to be instructed as to the Christ, and there is only one reference to the Holy Spirit, in the epistle, and that is in Col. 1. In the epistle to the Ephesians, it is what the body is to the Head, the complement of Him that fills all in all; but in Colossians, what the Head is to the body — "In him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him." That is the difference. We may see the philosophy warned against in this epistle all around us today. The one way as seen in Ritualism, another in Seventh-day Adventism, etc. It is a great mercy that, in the wisdom of God, the germs of all these errors were permitted to show themselves before the apostles passed off the scene, that so we might have the revelation of God's mind about them.

Verses 24-30. Out of his own mouth the wicked and slothful servant was condemned. Then you get the principle of verse 29. In Luke 8:18, it is "that which he seems to have" "Cast the useless (or unprofitable) bondman into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth." We don't want to tone that down at all. It is the case of a lost soul, and one eternally lost. There is no one who speaks so definitely, so faithfully, about the eternal state of the wicked as the Lord Himself. Mark 9:48, is very solemn and incontrovertible, and he who denies their import denies the word of Him who is the Truth. Reject it you may, but the truth remains. "Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched." "Their worm" is the conscience of each individual. Man acquired a conscience by the fall, and man will have it for ever — it will never die. The so-called "larger hope" is a fiction — a delusion and lie of Satan. So also is "annihilation." Cremation with the intent to avoid resurrection is the sin of limiting the Holy one of Israel. The God who created man will raise men in the bodies in which they sinned. The Lord said, in John 13, "If ye believe not that I am He,ye shall die in your sins." And if a man dies in his sins, he is raised in his sins, and is judged in his sins, not to decide whether he is saved or lost for that is decided here, but to apportion the just punishment to each — to some many stripes to others few; and if a man is judged in his sins, he is cast into hell in his sins, into that place which, as the close of this chapter tells us, was "prepared for the devil and his angels." Contrast that with "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" There is no alternative between the two.

Now we enter in verse 31, on the concluding section of the discourse. What forms the Christian part ends here. In chap. 24:30 we read, "They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory," and this verse, when the Son of man shall come in His glory, links up with it. We see that those that are found openly in rebellion will be cut off, as by a flash of lightning, and they will be raised again to appear before the "great white throne." But there is more than that. This is sessional. When He sits upon the throne of His glory, His earthly throne, all the nations will be gathered before Him. Now He is sitting on the Father's throne in heaven. As the Son of man who died and rose again, He will sit on His own throne. In Rev. 3:21, where the Lord is the speaker, it says, "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne." No creature can sit on the Father's throne. He only who is Jehovah's fellow. When He comes from heaven we shall come with Him; all the O.T. Saints as well as the church forming the armies of heaven. Enoch prophesied of this. He was in the secret of the flood as well as of the still future judgment. There is often an anticipatory partial fulfilment of prophecy. Enoch called his son's name Methuselah, which means, "He dies, and it is sent." Accordingly at his death came the flood.

When the Lord comes, His attendants are sometimes spoken of as the saints, sometimes the angels, sometimes both. It is here the judgment of the living nations on the earth. In Acts 10:42, the Lord is called the "judge of living and dead"; here He is seen judging the living"; 1000 years later He will judge "the dead," at the end of the millennium. We have the same expression in 2 Tim. 4:1, and 1 Peter 4:5 tells us He "is ready to judge the living and the dead." In what sense ready? If a judge has a prisoner before him, evidence is given on both sides, and he has to weigh that evidence before giving judgment. There is nothing like that with the Lord. He knows everything perfectly, He reads the secrets of the heart, and hence He "is ready" to judge the living and the dead.

As we all know, the Lord Jesus is not yet sitting on His own throne, for it is not yet set upon the earth. Jehovah has said to Him, "Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool" and as we remarked last week, the Lord says to the Overcomer in Laodicea (Rev. 3:21), "To him that overcomes, will I give to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne." Now it is clear that the throne which we, as Christians, have to do with now, is the "throne of grace"; but here it is a throne of judgment, and all judgment is committed to the Lord Jesus. Paul told the Athenians that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he has ordained, whereof he has given assurance unto all men* in that he has raised him from the dead," and, perhaps one of the most definite scriptures to give us light on it is John 5 "The Father judges no man" (ver. 22). The Father is a relationship of grace, and where the Father and the Son are spoken of, it is in the activities of grace. "And has given him authority to execute judgment also because he is the Son of man" (ver. 27). Here he comes as such. Dan. 7. first presents Him there.

Perhaps no scripture has been more perverted than this closing section of Matt. 25 for it has been spoken of as the last or general judgment! This is a scene on the earth. You do not get nations in heaven. When the wicked dead are judged it is after the earth and heaven have passed away (Rev. 20:11-15). This in Matthew is the judgment of the living.

This will not be when He comes for the church; not as Son of man does He come for her, He comes as Lord. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout," etc. Subsequently He comes in His glory. He will not come to the earth when He comes for His saints. W e shall meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). then subsequently we shall come with Him. "When Christ Who is our life shall appear then shall we also appear with Him in glory." Here He is seen accompanied by His holy angels. Enoch prophesied of His coming with ten thousands of his saints" but; 2 Thess. 4:14-17 gives us both comings. Then will be fulfilled that word in John where the Lord says that the glory given Him He has given to the saints … "and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." The witness of this will be our being seen with Him.

Of course all this is not before us here, but in the other scriptures I have quoted, it is quite plain. In Rev. 19. it is the armies in heaven that accompany the Lord. The Old Testament saints and the church are not there distinguished as they are in the early part of the chapter. The armies take in all the saints up to their glorious appearing.

The wicked living are dealt with; and later, at the end of the thousand years reign, the wicked dead are raised and judged at the great white throne. What we have in Matt. 25 is a sessional, not a summary and final judgment. You get summary judgments in the O.T. as seen in the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. Those who then perished will be raised again, and so also those slain when the Lord is revealed in flaming fire.

Well then here the Lord Jesus sits on the throne of His glory — a contrast to the flash of the lightning when He comes as in chap. 24. This is an exact discriminating judgment, some placed on His right hand, others on His left. The righteous are spoken of as "sheep," the unrighteous as "goats." We do not get everything in one scripture. To understand this we must turn to other scriptures, I but this very Gospel of Matthew shows us that a gospel will have to be preached — not the gospel of "the grace of God," or the gospel of the "glory of the happy God" — but the "gospel of the kingdom." The messengers who preach it will be the Jews. Just what characterizes them shows them to be the very ones to take this gospel all over the world in the least possible time. So you get three parties here, the Jews, the Gentiles, and those who preached this gospel. Some there are who think that this gospel of the kingdom is the same as that which is being proclaimed now. But the Lord announces in His commission to the twelve, "ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel until the Son of man be come."

If we do not discern that there is a break, a timeless, dateless gap, many O.T. scriptures would still appear mysterious to us; for we often find these gaps. There is one, as familiar to us as any, in Luke 4. When the Lord came to Nazareth after His anointing and His temptation, He stood up to read, and turned to Isa. 61. When He came to the words "to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD," He stopped at a comma, and did not finish the sentence. Had He read further He could not have said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears," for the day of vengeance was still future. As far as He read, it was all grace, and told of his gracious ministry. Just that comma represents all the present period up to the time of His coming to deal in judgment. The scripture above shows there will be those on the earth after the church is gone who will be in a very similar position to the disciples gathered round the Lord at His first coming as seen in this chapter. They were the remnant then, and there will be a testifying remnant after the church is gone. Then again the Lord is spoken of as King here. He is never spoken of as King of the church. He is "King of glory," and there is the expression, "King of saints," but that should be, as we have before remarked, "King of nations;" and He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords." He is Head of the body. Where the distinctive place of the church is given in Ephesians, He is "head over all things to the church which is His body, the fulness," or complement — that which makes the thing complete — of him that fills all in all." It is very precious to see the wondrous place of blessedness of those saved now between Pentecost and the rapture.

So He will address those on His right hand, "Come ye blessed of my Father." The Lord Jesus spoke of "the Father," and "my Father"; and after His resurrection (He had said in John 17 "I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it") He sends the message, "I ascend (not, "to our") to my Father, and your Father." There is a very pointed guard there. So they are blessed of His Father here. Not a word of any being raised, not a syllable. It is exclusively of living men on the earth. Whereas at the great white throne there are no living men who had not died, but the dead now raised for their final doom, — raised in the very bodies in which on earth they sinned, now to hear the sentence of eternal banishment from His presence.

Those spoken of here need to be instructed, and we cannot imagine that when we are in glorified bodies, and we know as we are known, that we shall need instructions as these do here. The church is not the subject of "times and seasons," but in God's ways fills up the interlude, as already pointed out being chosen in Christ before, the foundation of the world. The Lord's reign will be over the earth, and those blessed here will be living men on the earth who enter into millennial blessedness. They will not be in changed bodies or raised men. There will be some who have lived at the same time as these but who will have a place of blessing in advance of these, such as the Apocalyptic martyrs. Therefore, "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth," for it will be better to have past in the heavenly department. All who have part in the first resurrection will have part in the coming kingdom.

Those judged here will be dealt with according to the way they dealt with the messengers. You get an illustration in the O.T. which may help us to understand this. Jacob's time of trouble was foreshadowed in the trials they had in Egypt, and when Pharaoh sought to destroy all the male children; but Shiphrah and Puah "feared God and saved the men children alive." God remembered that and built them houses. Then again in Ahab's time when the heavens were shut up 3.5 years (which in itself would point us to the last half week). Obadiah feared the Lord greatly and showed it by hiding His prophets. The "everlasting gospel" will be "Fear God, and give glory to Him," and I take it those here who are kind to the messengers do fear God, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but the others have no fear of God before their eyes. The righteous are blessed of His Father. The others are cursed, but it does not say "of His Father." The Father is always. in connection with grace. These had themselves decided their own doom. It is a very solemn scripture.

Matthew 26:1-13.

1920 We have before had occasion to remark that it is the Lord Jesus Himself who gives us the most solemn statements as to the eternal doom of the wicked. It is settled here for eternity. The beast and the false prophet are both taken red handed, and forthwith cast alive into the "lake of fire." A thousand years after, the devil also is cast in where they are. But there are others too. Turn to Isaiah 30:30-33. The Assyrian is the king of the North who has a very large place in Isaiah and Daniel. Verse 33, which should read, "for the king also it is prepared," shows us that he too will be there as well as the beast and the false prophet. They will share the same fate. No doubt the conduct of the sheep was governed by the effect the testimony had on them. The millennial earth will be a very blessed place. First of all, the Lord will deliver creation, there will be universal peace, and the Lord will purge out of His kingdom all that do iniquity. The earth will yield her increase worthily of His reign, and there will be such tremendous plenty that even the poor, neglected, ass will eat clean provender that has been winnowed with the hand. This gives us an idea of what it will be like. Oh, there is a good time coming! But there is only One who can put all things right, and He is called "the desire of all nations." It will be a blessed time for those living then, but we who believe shall have a better place; we shall reign with Him, these will be reigned over.

It will be a reign of righteousness. "The child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." Some may think this a very difficult scripture: but if a man's life now is reckoned at seventy years, a tenth of this would be seven, and a tenth of man's then life of a thousand years would be one hundred; as seven years now, so would one hundred years then, represent but the age of a child. Any rebellion or covert sin will be dealt with instantly. But though, no doubt, they will know what has gone before, yet if there be no work of grace in their souls, they will be as ready to fall at the end of the millennium as Adam was in Eden. There must be repentance and faith towards God, if man is to be right in his soul, and kept of God.

In our authorized version of Matt. 25:46 it might look as if there were two Greek words for the two English words "everlasting" and "eternal"; but it is one and the same word. Whether "life" or "punishment" they are alike "everlasting." Life in the millennium is predicated as "life for evermore" (Ps. 133 ), or "everlasting life" (Dan. 12:2). Believers now have eternal life and besides, we are waiting for it. Daniel 12 speaks of a national resurrection of Daniel's people, now asleep in the dust of the earth, i.e., lost, but they among the Gentiles shall awake (compare Ezek. 37) "some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Ezek. 37 takes in the whole twelve tribes.

The ten tribes will not go through the great tribulation in the land. God will bring these now lost to human vision — into the wilderness, and purge out all the rebels among them, for none of the rebels will go into the land. I apprehend that those who shall enter will have life in their souls. The remnant of Judah who returned in the days of Ezra from Babylon were once more in the land for the presentation to them of the Messiah, but they rejected Him and would not have His reign, and this accounts for their present scattering and ultimate going through the great tribulation. We have a remarkable illustration of this in Joseph and his brethren. Why did he give them such exercise before revealing himself to them? Because he loved them. And the way Judah pleads for Benjamin foreshadows the work that will be wrought in the soul of the future remnant at the end. I see the Spirit of grace and supplication. So it will be with many in Israel bye and bye. When the veil is taken away they will look on Him whom they pierced, and He will take away out of their flesh the stony heart that said, Away with him," and will give them a heart of flesh. Then will they take up the still prophetic language of Isaiah 53, confessing their guilt.

The Lord has not kept back anything. As He drew near the end of His public ministry the hatred of the religious leaders increased, and we get the Lord denouncing these religious leaders. If we turn to Psalm 40, we find He kept back nothing. He declared God's faithfulness and His righteousness, and He also declared what He would do at the time of the end, and how He will have His own kingdom here, and purge out of it all that offend.

So when He had finished all these sayings He said unto His disciples, "Ye know that after ten days is the feast of the passover and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified (vers. 1, 2). There He definitely discloses when His death would take place. These religious leaders did not want it to occur then when Jerusalem was full of people; for they were under the Roman yoke and they would have to answer for it if there was any uproar among the people then. But Judas came forward, and they could not let that opportunity pass. Yet on the surface there appears a difficulty here. But it is only on the surface: if we knew all we should see that there is never any real difficulty. There are those who think the Lord did not partake of the passover when the Jews did and some try to get over it by quoting the marginal reading of Ex. 12:6. "Thou shalt kill it between the two evenings," as though they were at liberty to do it any time of the twenty four hours. But if we turn to Exodus 29:38-39, we find the same expression there. The day commenced in the evening, and the evening that closed one day was continued by the evening that begun the next. So in verse 8 of the next chapter we find the same expression where it cannot mean that the one evening was twenty four hours after the other. There is a feast which continues twenty four hours. In Lev. 23:27-32 we find it put in quite another way, yet still meaning the whole twenty four hours. Now turn to Deut. 16:2. The words "of the herd" throw no little light. Not only was the lamb to be eaten, but also the free-will offerings. This helps us to understand some things that seem a difficulty. Verse 4 reads "Neither shall there anything of the flesh which thou sacrificest the first day at even remain all night until the morning." If it might be divided between twenty four hours that would be very peculiar, but go on to ver. 6, "Thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt" Thus it had to be offered as a sacrifice, and the Lamb must be sacrificed at the temple, and on another day they could not get it done.

But then this is what puzzles a good many, what we get in John's Gospel. In Matt. 26 the name of the woman is not given, but John 12 tells us it was Mary of Bethany who anointed the Lord. The Gospel of Matthew was written at a very early date, and no doubt Mary may have been living, and if her name had been revealed it might have exposed her to persecution. John wrote very late when, no doubt, she was no longer living and so would be beyond the power of persecution. A difficulty however arises as to the "six days" of John 12, where as in our chapter (verse 2) it is "two days." The Lord spent those closing days in the bosom of the home of Bethany. It was "six days" before the passover that He came there, and it says there they made Him a supper. It does not say immediately He arrived, but while He was there. It is brought in there because of the truth we get in the chapter preceding; so I don't see any real difficulty.

No doubt the Lord's faithfulness intensified the animosity of the religious rulers. He was hated without cause. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people." Ps. 2, says "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah and against his anointed." Acts 4 shows us it is the Jew and the Gentile who are gathered together there "Imagine" in Ps. 2 is the same word as "meditate" in Ps. 1:2. So it is the leaders of the people who are here meditating to take the life of their Messiah. "But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people." But the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand, and the Lord was to die at that very time. So what they had proposed as to the time was upset. But we shall get to that presently.

Verse 6. It was known as the house of Simon the leper. He was a cured leper, and it is possible, as some have thought, that he was the father of Martha and Mary, and Lazarus. It is also called Martha's house, she received the Lord into her house. We cannot be positive who this Simon was, so we say no more except that it is not the Simon who is spoken of in Luke 7. That scene is in Galilee, this in Judea. And further, the woman of Luke 7 was an immoral person, a well known sinner, but there is not a single syllable to indicate anything like that of Mary of Bethany. Again, the woman in Luke comes uninvited and was one whom. Simon did not want to see; but in John 12. it is a family scene. Then the woman of Luke 7 came prepared to anoint his feet — not to wash them; but she found them soiled. The common courtesies of the East were lacking on this occasion, but she washed the Saviour's feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and anointed them with ointment. With Mary, it was hers but to anoint (His head and) His feet, as love and care had already not been wanting — His feet were clean. Here at Bethany the house is filled with the odour of the ointment. Here is worship, and as we worship we should carry away the savour of it too. The unnamed woman of Luke 7 remains unnamed. She was not Mary Magdalene, out of whom seven demons had been cast,but known as a "sinner" — "her sins many."

"My head with oil thou didst not anoint" (Luke 7:46) shows us it was usual to anoint guests. But this woman does more: she brake the box and poured it on His head. There is no stint here, but the contrary. Would that we were more after this pattern in our worship and had more to give the blessed Saviour.

John lets us know who it was that led in the complaint — Judas Iscariot. The others were led by him. It was not that he cared for the poor, but he carried the bag and was a thief, and he coveted that money. What an awful thing coveteousness is! It takes the place in the heart which the Lord Jesus had a right to. The three great sins in the land were covetousness, disobedience, and confidence, confidence in their own strength, and in their own wisdom. So you get the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold; the defeat at Ai; and then the deceit of the Gibeonites. Things seen (the lust of the eyes) are dangers to us. If we are not on our guard we want to possess them. But "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" is better than all possessions.

John furnishes in his Gospel many helps to the understanding of the Synoptists (Matthew, Mark and Luke). No man can throw light on the word of God. It gives its own light, and the wisest teacher can only tell of the light it has thrown on him.

"This waste!" (ver. 8) — insulting to the Lord, and very unbelieving of them! How could it be waste if expended on the Lord? Well, as I said just now, it was not waste even as regards Mary, for there was that wonderful commendation of the Lord. We must be receivers before we can give, and Mary was a receiver. Martha was a giver, and the Lord Jesus was her guest, but Mary was the Saviour's guest. Alas, we are often content with taking in but few drops, no wonder then we can only give out a few drops; but if rivers are to flow out from us we must receive rivers. With the Lord's presence there is always abundance of provision, — His presence always gives plenty.

Matthew does not tell us the valuation. There is about half a crown diff erence between the appraisal of Judas in John 12, and the am ount received by Judas for his betrayal of the Lord. They run very close together, and it shows the power of Satan. The price according to Ex. 21 is the price of a slave; of a freeman the price was double.

The Lord does not resent their rudeness but He does take up and vindicate the woman. And it is very blessed for us, if we are misjudged, not to defend ourselves, but leave our course to Him. Mary did not say anything in self-justification when blamed by her sister in Luke 11. The Lord commended her then. He loved Martha, but He commended Mary. She was the possessor of the good part which should not be taken away from her. Mary is content to be silent and the Lord defends her and does it better than we ever can. We see then, how, as always, love waits on opportunity. Here was one, and love seizes it. He was despised and rejected of men, but here was a heart that appreciated Him. She was eloquently telling out that verse in Canticles, "Thy Name is as ointment poured forth." What a fearful thing to put anything in competition with the Lord!

The Holy Ghost tells us she "poured" the ointment, which speaks of profusion. Those who at his death prepared to do him honour and went to the sepulchre were too late. He was risen before they arrived.

Verse 13, stands out quite unique. We do not find the Lord using similar language of any other. I do not think we could limit this gospel to any character of glad tidings, for Matthew will prove very helpful to the remnant. We know they will be acquainted with this, so therefore this will go on to the time of the end.

Matthew 26:14-29.

1920 Judas had been disappointed in the three hundred pence lavished on the Lord, and he covenanted with the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver — less than half the value of the ointment, and only the price of a slave! The time was come for the Lord to be crucified, but these chief priests and elders had decided not to apprehend Him on the feast, because they feared a tumult; yet He was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and Judas' offer brought it about. It vas an opportunity which they could not let slip.

The disciples come (ver. 17) to enquire of the Lord, where they should prepare the passover, and they were instructed to go to a certain house in the city. Here we see the authority of the Messiah "The Master saith." So His instructions were carried out, and they prepared the passover.

"And when the even was come (ver. 20), the time for eating the passover, he reclined at table with the twelve." Then the Lord tells them, "One of you shall betray me!" Exceeding sorrowful, they began to say, "Is it I Lord?"

"The Son of man goes as it is written of him" (ver. 23). There we see it fulfilled by the will of God. Although "by the foreknowledge of God," it did not relieve Judas of his responsibility. Peter speaks of stumbling whereto they were appointed — not appointed to be disobedient, but to stumble if they were disobedient, but all is foreknown. The guilt of it rested on Judas, but "it had been good for that man if he had never been born." How appalling! Yet after hearing this Judas says, "Is it I, Rabbi?" Never once is it said that he ever called Jesus "Lord"! The others did. Jesus replies, "Thou hast said." A modest way of asseveration; we get it again in the latter part of this same chapter (ver. 64).

We were noticing before that the passover was an annual feast for an earthly people, but the supper here instituted — the Lord's supper — is for a heavenly people. And I suppose it is not too much to say that it is the most blessed privilege the saint can have this side the glory. When you think that it was the night of His betrayal
"When all around Thee joined
To cast its darkest shadow
Across Thy holy mind "
Here we have the express desire of the Saviour's heart at that time. And it is our privilege — yea, indeed, our duty — to conform to these desires; and the Holy Spirit has recorded it in permanent form that we may consider its injunction again and again.

Everything connected with christianity is marked by simplicity. We get the institution of the supper here; the teaching about it in the Epistle to the Corinthians; and its observance in the practice of the early disciples as recorded in the Acts. They "came together" on the first day of the week — not to hear a sermon — but "to break bread" (Acts. 20:7). The practice of some is to come together to hear a sermon, and they put the Lord's supper in a corner of the service, at the end! Others give it the place of a corner at the beginning, and say it is introductory to the assembly of God, so hurry to get it over, so as to leave room for ministry, or worship. In neither case could they be said to come together to break bread. When we come together to break bread "ministry" before the supper is an intrusion; after the remembrance of the Lord, there is plenty of room, for whatever ministry the Spirit may be pleased to give. Worship and the Lord's supper is the object and character of our coming together "in assembly" on the Lord's day to remember Him, and thus it will be, I am sure, if we desire to meet the Lord's mind, and to do His will, What we specially have to note is Paul's revelation in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that he had received of the Lord that which he also had delivered to them. Thus was it not only to "the eleven," but through the apostle for us Gentiles who have believed in Christ risen from the dead and now on high. To Paul it was given direct from heaven. At its introduction it is connected with the kingdom, but Paul connects it with the Lord's coming. We may safely say that this will go on till He does come. It is marvellous that in a day of such declension it should have been recalled to us in its original simplicity. It is a dead Christ we remember, while knowing Him as alive for evermore. The first day — the very mention of the day — reminds us we are on the glory side of the Lord's resurrection. But then His death brings us there, and it is the love of the One who went there for us we specially remember. We go there to remember Him, and it touches the secret springs of our heart, and the Lord knows how to bring them out. The first day of the week is "the Lord's" day — though only once is it so designated. The same word is used of "the Lord's day, and of "the Lord's" supper; even of the table it is different. "The day of the Lord" again is quite different, being a period of judgment. As we come along in this chapter we shall see that what opens the grave is the death of Christ, the very act that rent the veil opened the graves; but He was appointed to be the first that should rise from the dead; so the saints did not come out of the graves till after His resurrection. And

I take it those mentioned are of the company of those of whom it is said, "Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection." Christ is the firstfruits, and "the first resurrection" includes not only the O.T. saints and the church, but also the Apocalyptic martyrs. There would be no point in saying "after his resurrection," seeing that He is the firstfruits, if these saints were as Lazarus and died again. They had risen bodies. Heb. 11 speaks of those who died in faith before Christ came, and that we have something better; they will not be "made perfect" before us. These no doubt had died in recent times. They "went into the holy city, and appeared unto Mary"; they did not continue to live here again like Lazarus. This was peculiar and connected with the glory of the Lord's resurrection. The word "saint" constantly occurs in the Psalms, and is represented by two words, "holy" and "gracious;" both are used.

Coming back to our chapter, let us look at particulars. It is a request. "Jesus took bread and blessed." The "it" in our version might lead people astray. It is, "he gave thanks," in another Gospel. If God blesses, He confers a benefit, and gives happiness and joy. If man blesses his fellow it means, desiring happiness for him; but if we bless God, we praise Him, we speak well of Him. It means to "laud," to "extol." So the Lord looked up, and blessed — equivalent to giving thanks. The "it" is in italics and is left out by many. Then He "break and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." How simple! How blessed! To part with this simplicity and introduce "transubstantiation" or "consubstantiation" — how very terrible! That body, pointing us to the body prepared for Him, that which was unique — for the Lord Jesus was perfectly man as well as Son of God — that body was "prepared." "Mine ears hast thou digged," is in Heb. 10, "a body hast thou prepared me."

So in contrast to all the human race there was a preparedness to do the will of God, and our salvation is wrapped up in that will. On that body too our sins were laid, and there was perfect willingness on the Saviour's part to do God's will, He suffered the Just for the unjust. And He who knew no sin was also made sin for us. "God, sending His own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, and as a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin in the flesh," our old corrupt evil nature. He died to it; and He died for our sins. Made sin for us He bore its condemnation; hence we are to reckon ourselves "to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11). Up to chap. 5 of that Epistle it is a question of sins; i.e., what we have done; but from verse 12 to the end of chap. 7. it is a question of sin, the root, our evil nature; and it is a wonderful help to get that clearly in the mind. "This is my body" … and "he took the cup." It is put somewhat differently in Luke 22, and in 1 Cor. 11. In the latter (ver. 24) the word "broken" should not be there — it is simply — "which is for you." "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" The cup comes first in 1 Cor. 10:16, not to guide us in partaking of it, but Godward. All hangs on that blood. How it brings before us that other cup which He drank for us! When we think of its awful contents, we see nothing short of that could have net our need.

In preaching the gospel we must bring out the value of that blood. Although the life of the Lord Jesus was throughout so God-glorifying — a life of faith and perfect obedience from beginning to end, without a failure, the Man of prayer, — yet that glorifying life could not of itself, prospectively and retrospectively, effect the salvation of one single soul — he must die if any are to be saved. "He suffered for sins." There are sufferings that are non-atoning, and sufferings that are atoning. Peter speaks of witnessing the sufferings and partaking of the glory; Paul reverses it. Jesus suffered at the hands of man for His faithfulness to God: He suffered at the hands of God for His faithfulness to us — sufferings we shall never know. That which is deepest in the cross is known only to God and to Christ. He endured more (and only a divine person could have endured it) than all the lost will endure eternally. The centre of two eternities, and the greatest wonder of all eternity, the greatest glory brought to God, in all His nature and every attribute, and a salvation glorifying to God and in every particular suitable to us, was brought about by the cross. The heavens declare the glory of God, but that is not where God's highest wisdom is seen; the angels learn it through the church.

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" and here was One who did it perfectly. I take it that the name "Father" speaks of grace, and the Father's grace is seen through the whole life of the Lord Jesus. "My Father works hitherto and I work." His holiness would not permit Him to rest where sin prevailed, and His grace would not let Him rest where sorrow prevailed. So the Lord Jesus was always at work doing the Father's will. Each Gospel brings out His divinity, but in John's Gospel the prominent thing is the divine side; so there He raises Himself (chap. 2). "I have power to lay it down [his life], and I have power to take it again,"a divine Person is speaking; and when He gave up the ghost He said, "It is finished" — a divine Person putting His own imprimatur on the work He had accomplished.

In Matthew it is the King rejected and the door opened to the Gentiles, and you get them here. "My blood of the new covenant, which is shed far many for the remission of sins," not only for Israel but for the Gentiles. His blood would avail for many. Here you see this new covenant is the covenant prophesied of by Jeremiah." That covenant is not yet made, but that blood on which it will be established is here. The covenant of works in Exodus 25 told the penalty of disobedience, death; that is what that blood spoke of; this speaks of remission of sins.

Is it not marvellous how people can turn to the law! It was for man in the flesh, for man not risen with Christ, whereas the Christian is a risen man (Col. 3). The law demanded righteousness but never made one soul righteous, and all who are on that ground are under the curse. But we have died to it. The law has nothing to say to one who has resurrection-life. We know the blessedness of a ministration of righteousness, not demanding it but giving it; and a ministration of glory. The hope of righteousness is to be with Christ in glory. The Christian's rule of life is Christ, not the law. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." There is a couplet by George Herbert:
"Whoso aims at the sky.
Shoots higher far than he who aims a tree."
And if our aim is Christ we press on.

So we have got the blessing of the new covenant — "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." There is going to be a people on the earth in whom that will be true. God will sprinkle clean water upon them and take away their stony heart and give them a heart of flesh, and that is when they are brought under the blessing of the new covenant. The clean water is the word. The Lord referred Nicodemus to Ezekiel 36, 37, the breath that makes the dead bones live. But we come in before that day comes; and we have this blessing of remission of sins without waiting for the confirmation of their covenant.

God has concluded all in unbelief that He might have mercy on all. The Jews are now on a common level with others as "all guilty." I do not think "to the Jew first" is applicable now, it was at the beginning.

In Jeremiah we get the bread for the mourner and the cup of consolation, so what the Lord was using here was quite familiar to them. The Lord dealt differently with them afterwards. When the Holy Ghost was given the disciples were in a very different position, but it is surprising how little they took in although the Lord spoke so pointedly and simply.

Matthew 26:36-56.

1920 78 Historically, in John 18 we see the scattering, and the Lord sheltering the sheep. The hour was come for Him to be delivered up. And in the passage in Zechariah 13:7, here quoted, He is called Jehovah's fellow. When He is in humiliation, He is called Jehovah's fellow. When He is in exaltation, we are called His fellows. Of course, He has the pre-eminence in everything. When we are called His brethren, He is the Firstborn.

Then there was a time when the disciples would be left. We know the time would come when they would be put under the care of another Comforter. But now they were to be scattered. After His resurrection they were gathered together again in Galilee. And I suppose that was when the Lord was seen of above 5oo brethren at once (1 Cor. 15:6).

But how very sweet to find that there is no change in Him, If apparently they gave Him up, the Shepherd would not give them up — "I will go before you into Galilee" (ver. 32).

Then we get a practical lesson. Peter could not believe that it could ever be true of him that he would deny the Lord. He was no hypocrite, but he thought his love to the Lord was so strong it could bear any strain.

Verse 34. The Lord had said "this night should all be offended, or stumbled. Peter goes a long way beyond, and says, "never." The offence of the cross puts us in a place of contempt. They had seen their Master escape out of the hands of His enemies, but He knew it would be too much for them to see Him given up into their hands. He knew them better than they knew themselves. There is the principle of apostasy in all sin. It is not what our love to Him is, but what His love is to us. Had not His love to Peter been infinitely more than Peter's love to Him, it would have been all over with Peter. The three in the garden here were the three who were on the mount of Transfiguration. Peter speaks of that as the "excellent glory," the "holy mount." Yet in spite of all he had seen, he fell. When the Holy Ghost was given, it put the saints in a far greater position, and such a sin would have been a far, far greater sin.

More definitely still does the Lord speak to him (ver. 34). I think Mark 13 would help us to understand what is here. It was a certain time of the night. "This night, before the cock crow; it marked off a time between midnight and the morning; that is what the Lord referred to. He knew all that would take place that night. Even then Peter would not bow to it through self-confidence. "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples," influenced, I take it, by Peter. He has prominence here. In ourselves we are weaker than a bruised reed, and this should give us to be characterised by self-distrust. Where there is that, there should be the greatest confidence in the Lord. No doubt Peter benefited by this experience. And we too should learn from whatever we pass through we ought not only to get benefit to ourselves, but to pass the profit on to others. Both David and Peter fell miserably, and it is easy to see the cause in both. David says "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" … "then will I teach transgressors thy law," His sad fall could be used for the benefit of others. So Peter, "when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren," It is he who tells us we are "kept by the power of God."

Gethsemane was at the bottom of the mount of Olives, and the name means "Place of oil presses." Here indeed we are on holy ground! How reverent should be our minds as we contemplate this scene. The Lord says, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder." He was coming to that time, marked out from all eternity, when sin was to be taken up and judged; and we see what was before His soul. It was only on the cross sins were laid upon Him, and He there made sin who knew no sin"; but in spirit He went through it here with His Father. So those three favoured men, — you see them marked out frequently in the Gospels — "He took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, and very heavy." It is beyond the power of the creature to realize what that dark hour meant to Him. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." He was a real man with a human soul; not, as some would teach, His Divinity taking the place of a soul; but a perfect man — spirit, soul, and body. It was the judgment of God about sin that was before Him in death. He said "Tarry Tarry ye here and watch." He never said "Pray for me." We must weigh the silences of Scripture. But He values their sympathy. Here is His perfection. How intensely He felt being the Sin-bearer — meeting in His holy soul what God was against sin, — knowing all, weighing all, yet He came to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish the work given Him to do.

Verse 40. To the one who had said he would lay down his life for the Lord, the Lord now says, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" There was some reproach in the words. Could he not watch one hour? When we think of the Lord, always the same, never overlooking a single saint, never withdrawing His eyes from the righteous, always the same —
"'Tis this that humbles us with shame."

"Watch and pray" — not for Him, — "that ye enter not into temptation," There is all the difference between the Lord, tempting us and our entering into temptation. Like Abraham, if the Lord tempts us, He can sustain us to go through it for His glory; but if we enter into it, like Peter did, we fall in the same way. If we neglect prayer we are courting failure. They slept while the Lord prayed.

"The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak." I can but think myself that it is the Lord's grace to put that construction on it. Man as man is likely to put the worst construction on anything; we should seek to put the best.

Verse 44. We learn an important lesson here. Three times over; but not vain repetition! In an earlier part we are told not to use vain repetitions, but the blessed Lord here uses "the same words." We may pray the same thing over and over again, and it may not be vain repetition, if our heart is in it. Ah, it was not possible! We find further on, that the two thieves proposed something that was impossible, — "Save thyself and us." If He saved Himself He could not save them. He must go through it all.

Now the Lord asks those to watch with Him that short time. Do you think their eyes were heavy when the armed crowd came, and after? No; but the flesh was weak here. Had there been enough interest in the Lord's request, there would not have been this manifestation. They miss the opportunity of gratifying the Lord. And have not we often, and been made to feel it keenly? We are told to buy up the opportunity (Eph. 5:16). We cannot redeem the past. How earnest we should be to fill up every moment of every day so as to meet the Lord's mind.

"The Son of man is betrayed." Judas comes and with him a great multitude. All is known to the Lord. Does it not seem remarkable that the One so gentle and so lowly — "His Voice not heard in the street" etc., — should be come out against, as against a ruffian, with a great armed crowd?

And let us weigh up verse 48. A kiss, the sign of peace, — the token of affection, but this, the kiss of a Judas! It is only by the grace of God that we believers are what we are. We ought to be very careful when we say we are not such as he.

"Hold Him fast." It brings to mind the hymn of John Newton —
"Some call Him the Pearl of great price,
And say He's the Fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its joys.
Like Judas, the Saviour they kiss,
And while they salute Him, betray;
Oh, what will profession like this
Avail in His terrible day? "

Let us shun hypocrisy in every shape and form. No doubt (it looks so, at any rate) the devil had deceived Judas. He did not think they could ever hold Him fast. We have seen the Lord deliver Himself when His hour was not yet come. When Judas found He did not deliver Himself, He was shocked, and threw down the money in the temple, and went and hanged himself.

Verse 49. It is "Rabbi," here. "He covered Him with kisses," as if he could not express his love! Oh, how dreadful but it shows what any one of us is capable of doing, if left to himself.

"Friend, wherefore art thou come" (ver. 50)? It would correspond to what the Lord felt as we find it expressed in Ps. 55, etc., and typified by David and Ahithophel. The Psalms reveal to us the keenness of the pain the Lord experienced. "My own familiar friend has lifted up his heel against me."

"Then came they and laid hands on Jesus and took Him." You don't get everything in one part of Scripture. "He gave his back to the smiters," or they could not have touched Him. He lived far too long to please men. Look at Nazareth. They sought to kill Him there, but they could not till their hour came. "This is your hour, and the power of darkness."

And when they took Him, the man who could not watch one hour, and subsequently denied Him with oaths and curses, would fight for Him against the whole crowd! (ver. 51). No doubt he meant to cleave Malchus' skull, but it was permitted him to cut off his ear. There is not only a divine selection in the Gospels, but divine arrangement also; so, as Luke is the Gospel of grace, it is reserved for him to tell us that the Lord immediately healed him. Peter's name is withheld here.

"All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" we are here told (ver. 52); and it would save us much trouble if we bowed to the word of God. "Do not ye judge them that are within? But they that are without God, judgeth." The time is coming when we shall judge the world, but now that would be going beyond our province. Besides, what seems so large in the eyes of man, when the potsherds of the earth are striving together, — what is that to the important things of God's assembly?

The Lord was the unresisting One, and the one that follows Him, has His especial care. If you stand up for yourself, He will stand by: you'll not be the object of His special care then.

Verse 53. A legion in the Roman Army would run up to 6,600, — the number of the largest. One angel could destroy 180,000 in one night. If it was a question of destroying, there is immense power in the Lord's word. "But how then must the Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be? "

"In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves for to take me?" There is a difference between a "thief" and a "robber." A thief may be a mere purloiner, but a robber is a thief with violence. Such were the "two thieves" crucified with Him, and also Barabbas.

"I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." What a constant appeal we get to the scriptures, in Matthew! There are more references to the Old Testament in his Gospel than in the three others put together. It has such a Jewish bearing, and hence the amplest testimony is given by Matthew to his race.

Matthew 26:56-75.

1920 91 "Then all the disciples forsook him and fled." if they had taken in the Lord's words as recorded in John that they were to be His witnesses, it would have dispelled this fear. They thought they were in danger of their lives, and though they had boldly said they would never deny Him, they miserably broke down. A lesson for us. When tested, unless we are in communion with Christ, we shall break down. They had been with Him three years. Peter, James and John had seen Him on the mount of Transfiguration, but in the garden! well, they failed. "Cease ye from man." It is just God's grace alone that can keep us right, and keep us from falling. The remnant will be subjected to far greater pressure than we shall ever know, and it is in connection with this we get "he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved." He will preserve a remnant even then.

As far as Peter was concerned, it was needed medicine for him. He has the prominent place in the record here. As far as they were concerned, they had forfeited everything. The Lord had warned them "He that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed."

It is one thing to be overtaken in a fault, and another to be characterised by it. To fear God, and know no other fear is what should be seen in a Christian. Of the eleven disciples, two seem to have recovered themselves somewhat — Peter and John. Peter overestimated his own courage and ability to stand. It is a dangerous thing for us to put ourselves in a place of temptation — quite another if the Lord puts us in it. He Who said to Abimelech "I also have kept thee from sinning against me" can keep us too.

"And they that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas" (ver. 57). That word "led" has a very sweet place. It speaks of the Lord submitting quietly when His time came. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter" etc. And turn to Isaiah 50. Only a Divine Person could say, "I clothe the heavens with blackness," but the same One gave His "back to the smiters." None could touch it, till He gave it. Luke tells us He submitted Himself to them. "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," and Jew and Gentile, led on by the devil, could do as they list against the Son of God. But in the thing in which they acted proudly God was above them. God is behind every event. There is nothing behind God. The Scripture cannot be broken. There were depths in the cup He drank which you and I will never fathom throughout eternity.

Ver 58. I doubt not Peter intended to stand close by the Lord and take all consequences. But first we see him fail in fleeing, and again in following afar off. There is a present danger in that for the Christian. We should always be known as the Lord's, under any circumstances — going forth to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. Peter "sat with the servants, to see the end." I suppose all this was very mysterious to them. They know how men had thirsted for His blood, but He had always escaped out of their hands. A remarkable verse in that way comes at the end of John 8, and we find another instance in Luke 4, "He passed through the midst of them" — this last at the very commencement of His public ministry. It looks as if Judas had been deceived. He thought he could get the money and gratify his covetousness, and the Lord would show His power. In that way the devil deceived him. Here Peter was going in and sitting with the servants as if one of the crowd, thinking that he would not be recognised; but it was the very place of danger that he took in his presumption.

Then the wickedness of these religious leaders — how it is exposed by the Spirit of God in ver. 59! It shows the wickedness of the human heart, no matter how cultured. But how impossible! "They found none." No doubt there was the prospect of reward, and what won't man, as man, do for money! "Yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses." It was required there should be two. Under Jewish law they must have the testimony of two to put any man to death. God laid that down, and we see the widsom of it too. "And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days" (ver. 61). That was false. It shows how they had to go back to the very beginning of the Lord's public ministry in John 2. He said "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." They were to do the work of destruction, and He would do the restoration and resuscitation as a Divine Person. It is in John we find it. Usually it is, "God raised Him," but you get something on the same lines in Hebrews. In chap. 1 He is Son of God; in chap. 2 Son of man. "When He had by Himself purged our sins He sat down." His own act — not the Father's! So He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." "But He spoke of the temple of his body." They intimated that He had said He would destroy it. It does not agree at all.

Ver. 62. The Lord Jesus was always right. There is a time to speak, and a time to be silent. He knew the time. So with us there is a time to be silent when it is a question of ourselves. But there is a time when it would be treason to be silent — when it is a question of the glory of God.

So the high priest must have felt it would be a flimsy accusation to put Him to death on the witness of the two. It was the Lord's own confession that they condemned Him on. He put the Lord on His oath, according to Jewish law. This affords us light. We are told to "swear not at all." For one voluntarily to use an oath is condemned in the word of God. But when "the powers that be" require that we should be put on oath, we ought to submit to it. The Lord did here. Thus we have light for our conduct. If the powers that be require us to sin, then we must obey God rather than man, but we are not called to oppose them. Here was a wicked man using the name of God. When Jesus said "Thou hast said," He answered in the affirmative. He was the Son of God. That is true. "Nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." No doubt the high priest knew what the Lord was referring to there — that the very One submitting then, and unrighteously judged, is the very One spoken of in Daniel 7:13. "One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, etc." The book of Revelation shows He is both Son of man and Ancient of days, but One Person in the Trinity. They had evidence that He was Son of God — the rending of the vail, and the resurrection! For although they gave them money to keep it quiet, yet had they the witness of the Roman soldiers that He was risen (27:11-15). I may add that when this "coming in the clouds of heaven" takes place, we shall be with Him. He will have come before to take us home; but when "the First-begotten" is brought into the world we shall be brought with Him.

Ver. 65. If it was blasphemy, the blasphemer must be put to death; and here is this wicked man bursting with rage. If they could bring that charge home to Him death would be His portion. There were occasions when the high priest was not to rend his clothes — evidently not in mourning. Here he does it in pretended righteous indignation. We must remember who were here — the Sanhedrim. All the learned and religious leaders were there, and "they answered and said, He is guilty of death." It is very solemn to contemplate this — to think Who He was Who had all these indignities heaped on Him! But this is no part of His atoning work. Atonement was made when He suffered at the hand of God. He suffered at the hands of man for righteousness — for God. He suffered at the hand of God for sin — for us. There is nothing so jealously guarded in the word of God as the Person of Christ, and we should have nothing to do with any who would put the slightest spot on Him, the "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."

"Then did they spit, in his face, and buffeted him, and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (ver. 67). What will those men feel when they stand before Him! "I hid not my face from shame and spitting" is the language of the One before Whose face the earth and the heaven flee away in Rev. 20 — so glorious is He! This would be the "shame" smiting and buffetting" His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men." They would trample Him under their feet. They felt furious to heap contumely on Him. The Lord said to the chief of sinners "Why persecutest thou me?" There are "none too vile and loathsome for a Saviour's grace." The evidence of the word itself shows it may be so, for it was the lowest place of all His suffering at the hands of man when the two robbers "cast the same in His teeth." Yet He saved one of them!

Ver. 68. "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" Yet He knew the secret of every human heart, and knew everything. That is why He is "ready to judge" — because He knows everything. This was a very simple thing for Him to answer, but He patiently bore it. That is just the teaching of Isaiah 50. If man condemned Him God would justify Him: and that very word is applied to us in Romans 8.

Ver. 69. "Now Peter sat without in the palace." The first denial was inside, and we must not think it is only the maiden who speaks, but the excited crowd all round. The last two denials are in the porch, or vestibule perhaps. From other scriptures we gather there were others having their say, and accusing him. It shows how far we may fall if God leaves us. There is nothing we should dread so much as being left to ourselves. Look at Hezekiah. When God left him he miserably fell, though he had given splendid testimony before (2 Chron. 32:31). Heb. 13:5 is a fact too. God allows Satan sometimes to try. As with Job, God has His hedge about every one of His saints. The "hedge" speaks of guard and possession. And until God removes the hedge, the devil cannot touch him, but He permitted Satan to get in to try him, but not to injure him. So with Peter. He allows the devil to try him, but He never surrenders a saint into his hand — never. If the Lord permits us to fall, He never orders it — He permits it. I think the Epistle of James would bring that out. "Neither tempts He any man," but it is for the saint's good if He allows it. All this was blessed to Peter. We may well say at every turn, "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe." The hymn puts it:
"In Thy presence we are happy,
In Thy presence we're secure."
Wandering from Thee we are feeble,
Let Thy grace then keep us nigh."
That is so; we must give Him all the praise if we are kept. It is a fearful thing for the Lord to say "I know you not."

Matthew 27:1-23.

1920 98 We were looking at the closing verses of chap. 26, when the meeting closed last week — the denial of Peter.

Reverting to these we may notice the great difference between the position of Peter and Judas Iscariot. Peter had faith; he loved the Lord. In the case of Judas Iscariot it was a planned thing — all arranged what he should do. But there was nothing planned in Peter's case. It would be, as we read, "a man overtaken in a fault." Not long after in Acts 5 summary judgment falls on a planned thing. Ananias and Sapphira had agreed together, and the Holy Spirit uses Peter, who himself had lied, now perfectly restored, to exercise this discipline in God's assembly. It was "sin unto death." They were not necessarily lost souls. Very dreadful as this was in the instance of Peter, and recorded as a warning to us, there was nothing deliberate about it.

They recognised his dialect. We ought to be careful not to begin with sin. One thing leads to another. You get the case of David "saying in his heart, I shall one day perish at the hand of Saul," and then we have seven distinct downward steps, until God brings him up by burning Ziklag.

Fishermen, as a rule, are given to swearing a great deal, and very likely it was an old habit that Peter had been rescued from. Well, the cock-crew, according to the word of the Lord. The whole thing was the result of lack of prayer and watching. Had he watched and prayed, he would have got strength for the temptation.

It was a mercy the cock crew. It was a mercy he remembered the word of Jesus. I have no doubt you get right through here the difference between Peter and Judas. The sorrow of the world works death. You see this in Judas. Peter, on the other hand, was a real penitent. He had godly sorrow.

Now commencing our chapter, I suppose a large, number was there in the morning. It was not a question of trying Him; they were determined to put Him to death. Only think of the blessed Lord being bound! They had bound him previously, but apparently had loosed that bond; and now they bind Him again. When they bound Samson, how easily he broke the thongs! How much easier for our blessed Lord to do so! But no; the hour was come, and He was going to the cross to secure eternal salvation for you and me.

Judas saw this, and it does appear as if it was a surprise to him. "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders" (ver. 3). A little further on we see how it shows their low estimate of the blessed Saviour that they should covenant with Judas for thirty pieces of silver — the price of a slave!

"I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." What a testimony that is! Here is a man who had been in the Lord's company, three and a half years in that inner circle of intimacy, yet he had to bear testimony to His perfect innocence. There is a confession of sinning, but it is not the confession of one who feels the sin before God, of one who is really repentant. It is remorse and despair, and same have said this was a greater sin than really betraying the Lord. We get cases like that, in the word, with no blessing following — Pharaoh, Saul — but how different with David! In his case there was the confession of a really repentant man. Though we do not get the expression in Peter, we see real repentance, as with David. The latter knew he required nothing short of the multitude of God's tender mercies to meet his horrid crime. He was a wonderful man of faith beyond his dispensation, and he laid hold of God's tender mercies. There was nothing in the law to meet, his case. "Thou requirest not sacrifice, else would I bring it."

"What is that to us? See thou to that" (ver. 4). What a testimony to their degraded condition! It was no question with them if He were innocent or not. They had Him in their hands, and were determined not to let Him go.

Verse 5. There are two words translated "temple," and the one used here is the inner temple where only the priests could go. In J. N. D's translation there is a note "the house itself." It was not the court for the people; there is a word which takes in all the buildings, but this one is used only of the inner shrine, where Judas had no right to be only the priests. "And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." What a prey to Satan! It is a combination, no doubt, of remorse and despair. He felt his crime was beyond the reach of God's mercy; and many a soul is wrecked on that rock. The "fearful" are the very first of those mentioned as having their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).

How those who had shown themselves so conscienceless are very religious! "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood" (ver. 6). They little thought how was being fulfilled the word of God in their punctiliousness.

"To bury strangers in" I suppose the "strangers" would be Jews who came to the feasts and died while there, as we get elsewhere "devout Jews from all parts under heaven." So now if they died, there was a cemetery for them. "The field of blood" I have not a doubt this name belongs to their land, "Aceldama." In Zech. 11:13, it is "I took" and J. N. D. so translates it here. But it is curious that this 9th verse says "Jeremiah," and all sorts of ways have been resorted to to get over the difficulty. Jeremiah (Jer. 18) does not speak of the potter's house, and Matthew does not say "that which was written," but "that which was spoken" by Jeremiah. Zechariah wrote it afterwards, but Jeremiah may have said it first. The word of God is not wrong; those who think they find a blemish in it are wrong. There are some whose bent of mind is to try to pick out blemishes in the word of God. There is a well-known case in which two clever men agreed to use their ability to expose it; but their study of it for that purpose resulted in their conversion.

Verse 11. Here we see the One appointed by God to be "the Judge of quick and dead," standing before an earthly judge! What a picture! No doubt this Roman was sitting with pomp and pride on the judgment seat, and the blessed Lord was standing. How wonderful that He should have so deigned!

"And the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest." Here is His good confession before Pilate. Before the high priest He confesses that He is "the Son of God." Before, Pilate that He is "the King of the Jews."

How much depended upon that answer! "Son of God." Of course, "thou sayest" is an affirmative. And then these wretched, misguided men accuse Him (ver. 12), but the Lord does not answer Pilate again. He had given one testimony. He never made a mistake. He never spoke when He ought to be silent, or was silent when He ought to speak. We often are. It was quite consistent with perfect love when He was angry. We are to "be angry and sin not." The Lord's silence makes Pilate marvel greatly.

"Now at the feast" (ver. 15). This feast commemorated their release from Egyptian bondage.
It was a favour granted them that at that particular feast they could release one prisoner. Barabbas
was a terrible character. "Bar" means "son"; "Abbas," — father. Barabbas — "the son of a father."
are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." And here was the Son of God! It was a solemn moment for that nation when they had before them the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, and this wicked man, the son of his father — the Blessed One, the Originator of life; and a murderer, the destroyer of life, "who for sedition and murder was cast into prison." It is the choice of the human heart — your heart and mine. As Bonar wrote —
"And in that din of voices rude
I recognise my own."
That is what we ought to see: — the Christ of God the Son of the living God, and Barabbas, the son of his father. Pilate "knew that for envy they had delivered up" Jesus. He could see beneath the surface, and it put him in a solemn position. As far as his determination was concerned, he was "determined to let Him go." But he had to make a choice between the world and Christ — between Caesar and Christ. That decided him, although he knew he was doing wrong. He would do the wrong thing rather than not be the friend of Caesar. And those who reject the gospel are brought to that position, not once or twice.

Barabbas was a "notable prisoner," and there were three to be crucified, and the notable prisoner to be in the middle, and that place was given to the Lord.

Ver. 19. This made it, no doubt, more solemn to Pilate, and added to his responsibilty that he should receive this message from his wife. And the poor fickle multitude, who could one day shout "Hosanna," and another ask for "Barabbas and destroy Jesus." Is it not solemn? How truly the mind of the flesh is enmity against God!

Ver. 20. Solemn choice! and then after they had again said, "Barabbas," Pilate asks once more What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ," and they all say "Let him be crucified." Let us think what this means. A Roman citizen could not be crucified. Paul, we know, could not be. Peter was. They could not bind a Roman citizen without giving him a trial. It frightened them at Philippi, and they were glad to get rid of Paul and Silas whom they had beaten, when, they knew they were Romans. Crucifixion was mode of death reserved by the Romans for the worst class of criminals. God's hand was in Pilate's wife's dream to increase Pilate's responsibility. But they were determined, for they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified." They had not proved anything against Him. Everything is being brought to a point here — man's evil rising higher and higher, till it culminated in His death, but "in the thing wherein they acted proudly, He was above them." "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"; and the circumstances that brought out, as nothing else could, the love of God, brought out also the highest wickedness of man. "Ye denied the Holy and Just One, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead." Pilate was an ambitious man, and they knew his weak spot when they said, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend." The powers that be are ordained of God, and government had been committed to the Gentile, being taken from the hand of Israel, but the glory did not go with the sword. The two were united in Israel. The city of Rome now occupied the place of Babylon, and the power was delegated to Pilate, the representative of Rome in Palestine. All through this you see the different ones acting their part, but behind all events there is God, and nothing is behind Him; so "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" man doing his part, but God was behind it all — a very solemn consideration, and it ought to solemnize our minds while reading this. But in all this there is no atoning suffering. It was what the Lord Jesus suffered from the hands of God that was atoning. Man was not allowed to see the effect on His Person of those infinite sufferings when He drank that cup to the very dregs. It was the glory of His Person that enabled Him to do it. If the whole human race could have drunk it, they could still never have seen the bottom if it.