Scripture Notes.


Psalm 40:6.

A few words on the expression, "Mine ears hast Thou opened." The word is not the same as in Exodus 21. There it is attaching the ear with an awl to the door-post. The man thus became a servant for ever. Nor is it the same as in Isaiah 50:4 ("He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner"), where it has the signification of being so completely a servant to his Master's will that He received His commands morning by morning. Here it is, "Mine ears hast Thou digged;" that is, He took the place of a servant. But this He did, as may be seen in Philippians 2, by becoming a man. Hence the Spirit accepts, in Hebrews 10, the interpretation of the Septuagint - "A body hast Thou prepared me." (Compare John 13, which answers in point of time to Exodus 21; Luke 12:37; and 1 Cor. 15:23.) J. N. D.


Luke 12:47-48.

The question is not raised in this passage, we apprehend, as to where the punishment of the unfaithful servant will be inflicted, but it solely concerns the principle of responsibility. And most solemn is the instruction given in this connection. First, the case is supposed of the servant, who knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will: such an one shall be beaten with many stripes. The greater the light therefore, the greater is the responsibility; for where the light is possessed, there is positively no excuse for disobedience. Indeed, not to do according to the will made known is refusing to obey; in other words, it is rebellion. Judgment will thus take this into account, and hence there will be "many stripes." The second case given is one "that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes." It might have been thought that ignorance of his lord's will would have shielded the servant, though he deserved the punishment. But not so; for while he really did not know his master's mind, his will had been made known, as now, for example, in the Scriptures, and it was the servant's responsibility to have made himself acquainted with it. On this account, although the ignorance is accepted in mitigation of the sentence, the "few stripes" will be administered. Thereon the Lord affirms the principle already stated: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." The principle, therefore, is both divine and human, man also acting upon it in the ordinary transactions of life.

It may be interesting to point out that the responsibility of an assembly proceeds on different ground from that of the servant, it being according to the light actually received. In the letter to Sardis it is thus said, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent," etc. (Rev. 3:3.) Sardis will consequently be, indeed is, judged by the light, the truth, it received at the Reformation. This in nowise militates against the individual responsibility to ascertain, as we have seen, the mind of the Lord from His word. E. D.


1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20.

It is very striking to observe that the word translated in these scriptures as "heresies" is the same in both cases; for we thus gather that the "heresies," sometimes rendered "schools of opinion," which often appear amongst Christians, are works of the flesh. To enable the reader to enter into the meaning of the word, we append the following remarks: "Observe," says this writer, "the words heresy and sect are in the Greek both hairesis. The word is correctly rendered the 'sect of the Sadducees' (Acts 5:17) and 'of the Pharisees,' (Acts 15:5), and 'the straitest sect of our religion: (Acts 26:5.) These were parties or sects formed by Jews, whose minds had played with the Jewish religion. That the common thought of Christ's religion was formed by a comparison of it with these sects is plain, where Tertullus accuses Paul before Felix of being 'a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes' (Acts 24:5), and Paul admits 'that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I,' etc. (v. 14); and 'as concerning this sect, we know that it is everywhere spoken against,' (Acts 28:22), said the Jews at Rome to Paul."

How then, it may be enquired, does a heresy or sect commence? "The first thing I would observe," says our writer, "is, that heresy is said to be a work of the flesh. (Gal. 5:20.) Whether the flesh is here looked at more immediately as the root whence heresy in the principle of it arises, or as the energy of the sects and factions in which heresy displays itself, matters not; both are true. If anyone, instead of looking for the Holy Spirit's guidance, dabbles with his own mind in Scripture, he will see either something in the book which is not there, or the contents of the books out of their proper order and relative importance; and here heresy begins … He will either broach things which are not at all in the book, or he will broach a connection of things which is not true; or he may diminish the importance of foundation truth, or magnify unduly some item or point of superstructure truth … He will deal with the truth not as a Spirit-led man would:" Furthermore, as to the agents employed in this evil: "When the enemy is working by heresy, he rarely takes those who are offensive to human nature; nay, many natural beauties and ornaments may cover the plot; but the puffing and breaking of the bubbles within will soon call on the saints for judgment. If they do not anticipate the evil, it will rise and fall over. He will draw away disciples after him; a sect will be formed round himself, and the man is a heretic." From a paper "On Heresy," by the late G. V. W.

Fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:3.

Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 61.

This epistle commences with the manifestation of eternal life in the person of the Son. It is that which was from the beginning - that "which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" - to the disciples; for they heard, saw with their eyes, attentively examined, and handled with their hands, of the Word of life. For John therefore the first man has been set aside and done with, and Christ only remained - Christ as the Son and the Eternal Life. This explains why it is here "from the beginning;" for it is really the commencement of Christianity in the introduction of Christ into this scene, who, it must be remembered, was from His birth the Second Man, though He only took the place in resurrection. On this very account it supposes the settlement of the question of sins and sin, the flesh judged in the cross, and the new start made, according to the counsels of God, with that Eternal Life which had ever been with the Father, but which had now, for the first time, been manifested before the eyes of men in the person of the Son.

This will help the reader to understand the necessary difference between John's doctrine and that of Paul. As has been written by another, "The epistles of Paul, although speaking of this life, are in general occupied with setting before Christians the truth respecting the means of standing in the presence of God justified and accepted. The epistle of John, that is to say, his first, shows us the life that comes from God by Jesus Christ. John sets God before us, the Father revealed in the Son, and eternal life in Him. Paul sets us before God accepted in Christ. I speak of what characterizes them. Each respectively touches on the other point."* The teaching of the one must not therefore be confounded with that of the other.

*Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, vol. v. p. 482.

The next point is, that what the apostles saw and heard they declared. The eternal life which was with the Father, and had been manifested unto them, became now the subject of their preaching; and they declared to others what they had seen, "that ye also may have fellowship with us; and then, in order to define the character of this fellowship, it is added, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." The truth then is, that whoever, by grace, received Christ, Christ as the Word of life, as proclaimed by the apostles, was brought, through possessing eternal life in the reception of Christ, into fellowship with the apostles, and thereby into fellowship with the Father and the Son. Again we transcribe another's language, "Oh, how precious is the truth that this life, such as it was with the Father, such as it was in Jesus, is given to us! In what relationships it sets us, by the power of the Holy Ghost, with the Father and with the Son Himself! And this is what the Spirit here first sets before us. And observe how it is all grace here. Farther on, indeed, he (the apostle) tests all pretensions to the possession of fellowship with God by displaying God's own character, a character from which He can never deviate. But, before entering on this, he presents the Saviour Himself, and communion with the Father and the Son by this means, without question and without modification. This is our position and our eternal joy."

It will thus be perceived, and the truth must be held fast, that fellowship with the Father and with the Son is the normal place of every believer.* It may be but feebly understood; there may be different degrees of apprehension and enjoyment; there may, as there ever will be, "fathers," "young men," and "babes" in it; but all alike are in that place, whatever the various degrees of growth or intelligence. All alike, moreover, enjoy in some measure this fellowship; for it is in the very nature of the eternal life they have received to delight in what delights the Father and the Son. For example, when the feeblest believer, thinking of Christ, delights in Him, in His grace, His tenderness, His love, that saint enjoys, in so far, fellowship with the Father. On the other hand, when the "babe" who knows the Father delights in Him as revealed in Christ in the unfoldings of His heart, in all His compassion and love, that "babe" is in its measure enjoying fellowship with the Son. From the very nature of the case, inasmuch as it is fellowship with divine persons, there are endless, infinite degrees in the enjoyment of it; for it includes all the Father's and all the Son's thoughts, desires, affections, and objects, and it will thus constitute our portion and joy for eternity. The most advanced saint therefore on earth, a "father," only knows this fellowship in degree; while the "babe" also knows it, according to his measure and growth. Many things will affect its enjoyment, such as walk and ways, purpose of heart, etc.; but it is none the less true that it is the portion of every believer.

*The following words will illustrate this point: "The only normal state of the Christian, then, is unclouded fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, and the uninterrupted manifestation of the life of Christ in his body, and when in God's presence not having to think of sin in himself, but freedom to think of God and what He is." - (Deliverance, etc., by J. N. D., p. 13.)

It is for this reason that the advocacy is introduced in the next chapter. Inasmuch as fellowship with the Father and with the Son belongs to every saint, it is only interrupted through sin. Hence the provision of the advocacy for the restoration of communion. "If any man sin," John says, "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins," etc. (1 John 2:1-2.) Careful first to remind us that there is no necessity for sinning, he points out that if any, alas! should fall there is One on high, Jesus Christ the righteous, who, having made propitiation for our sin, graciously undertakes for such, and who by His advocacy secures, in His own way and time, their restoration. Otherwise, indeed, we should soon forfeit the blessed place of fellowship into which we have been brought; for, as He said to Peter, "If I wash thee not" (and the washing with the water of the Word is now the effect of the Advocacy) "thou hast no part with me." (John 13:8.)

It must be added, that the fellowship, of which the apostle speaks, can only be enjoyed in God's own presence, according to His own nature, and by those who through grace have been made, together with the reception of eternal life, participators of that nature. (vv. 5-7.) It is, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." The following remarks will explain this: "These are the great principles, the great features of Christian position. We are in the presence of God without a veil. It is a real thing, a matter of life and walk. It is not the same thing as walking according to the light, but it is in the light. That is to say, that this walk is before the eyes of God, enlightened by the full revelation of what He is. It is not that there is no sin in us; but, walking in the light, the will and conscience being in the light, as God is in it, everything is judged that does not answer to it. We live and walk morally in the sense that God is present, and as knowing Him. We walk thus in the light." And it is in the light as God is in the light; we have fellowship one with another, and this fellowship (for there is no other Christian fellowship) is fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. * *

*  *  *

It is worthy of remark, that when our Lord proposes Himself as our example, He indicates the two characteristics of meekness and humility. (Matt. 11:29.) But it will be noted, that in order to learn "from" Him, His yoke must be taken. It is, indeed, the condition of all discipleship that we deny ourselves and take up our cross; for only then are we free to be occupied with Him. hen, moreover, we grow daily like Him (2 Cor. 3:18); and then, in the measure of our conformity to His image, meekness and humility will also be exhibited by us in our pilgrim path. The connection of Phil. 1 and 2 will teach the same lesson. If chap. 1 gives what it is to live Christ, chap. 2 brings before us the mind which was in Christ Jesus - a mind that was displayed in emptying Himself, and in becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Yes, meekness and humility are the marks of the heavenly Man.

"Complete in Him."
W. T. Whybrow.
Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 79.

"Complete in Him!" What solemn thoughts arise,
And yet how glorious!
Glancing through the heavens faith descries
The Man victorious,
Once vanquishing on earth the demon host,
Jesus anointed!
Blest Son of Man, who sought and saved the lost,
To death appointed;
For judgment's storm burst o'er that spotless Head?
Suffered the Saviour
Immeasurable anguish in our stead -
Turned wrath to favour.

The Father loved His obedient Son,
The Holy One made sin;
Once offered that the will of God be done.
Sweet odours rise for Him,
Now filling that bright presence with delight;
All fear cast out by love
Love perfected - for we in Him are light,
Though here and He above.
Above, no mists, no distance, gone the fears
Where Christ is on the throne,
Where angels, principalities, and powers
Him Lord and Master own.

Thou, far above all heavens, giveth thence
To us the proof of love;
A love which bought the Bride at life's expense
To share Thy home above.
God has made meet; Thou with the cleansing word
Revealing what Thou art,
Dost lave away each fleck, the towel gird
To give us with Thee part,
Till Thy beloved, without a trace of care,
Beams forth like Thee - no soil,
Radiant, resplendent; yea, the jewel rare,
Fruit of Thy death and toil.

"Complete in Him" in whom the fulness dwells
Of God - Him bodily!
Creator, Man, Jehovah, whose praise fills
Creation joyfully!
While seraph, man, the mighty orbs of space,
Or wondrous circling spheres,
Earth with its towering peaks and swathing race
Of waters, bows, and fears!
Are we filled full in Him, and even now
Reflecting to His eye
Those hues of glory, caught from His bright brow
Like sunset in the sky!

Then shine each passing cloud of this poor scene
With varying beauties;
Nay, no man's gyve of ordinance or scheme
Of works - legalities,
Outside the veil, in servile fear and gloom,
Forbidding entrance in,
Hide that bright glory - proof that past all doom
The Holiest within,
We stand by blood entitled. Our High Priest
Himself, His "fellows" we -
A kingdom made of priests to God,
His Father's, ours for aye!

Let everlasting praises then arise
From hearts already taught,
To answer to the Father's heart with cries
Of "Abba, Father!" fraught.
The light, the love, the joy of that blest home
Be ours in Spirit now;
Abiding in the Father's love ne'er roam,
May we His will but know.
To the Father speak of Christ, express His life
Here in this weary waste,
Filling the pools - this tearful vale of strife
With Christ's love as - we haste,
Till Thou who, bleeding, dying on the tree,
Enduredst judgment's rod,
Shall come and call us up to be with Thee,
Where all things are of God.       W. T. W.

*  *  *

As Christ revealed the Father, so the believer should reveal Christ. (2 Cor. 4:10.) The life therefore which the believer has received, in receiving Christ, will display itself, in this world, in moral conformity to Christ; but in the future it will be seen in its full results in conformity to Christ in glory. (See 2 Cor. 5 and Phil. 3:21.)