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ourable discharge comes from my Commander. But I wish these hidden ones would not remain in concealment. They lose the blessed feeling of communion with brethren in Christ, whose hands and hearts their presence would strengthen in the duty of testimony. I am certain that the organisation of great hierarchies has damaged the Christian faith enormously. The sublime simplicity of apostolic institutions has been destroyed by this crafty device of the enemy. But this is no reason why any disciple of the Lord should become a practical hermit. Every saint should seek the fellowship of the “sons of God.” The question is not one of personal safety: that is a settled matter in the Lord's hands; but it is one of fellowship and witness-bearing. The hidden ones should not continue hidden in these days. They think their light feeble. Probably it is; but it is thoroughly genuine, even from the divine shekinah ; therefore it should be “ set upon & table” that others may see it and glorify God. The disappearance of the smaller stars from the splendid roof which the Divine Builder has placed over our heads, would sadly dim its midnight glory. So, we want the little lights to come into the Church for the benefit of the dark world, and the honour of that Wonderful One who holdeth the stars in His right hand and walketh among the golden candlesticks.
The Scriptures recognise three worlds and no more, the world before the flood, that which now is, and which, in its turn, is to be superseded by the new heavens and new earth of Divine "promise.” The site, or local position of each of these worlds is the same, but the Kosmos, or order, or arrangement, is different. Man in a state of nature, in a state of grace, and in a state of glory, suggests & striking analogy. There is the basis of individuality in the man untouched by these transformations. So of the world. made for man, with its accompanying light-bearers of sun, moon, and stars, and it will be tenanted by man for ever. (Isa. xlv. 1218; lx. 21; Psa. xxxvii. 22-29.) But the superficial changes effected by the great cataclysm did not, and those to be effected by the fire which introduces the day of the Lord will not destroy its essential matter or remove it from its eternal foundations as the fixed and immovable platform, “under the whole heaven,”
" upon which God has chosen to reveal Himself in providence and grace. It would therefore be correct, in fact, to say that the Scripture recognises only one world, but in three aspects. The word “worlds" appears
twice in the A. V. (Heb. i. 2 ; xi. 3) and in both instances the allusion is not to the earth with its illuminated firmament, but to the glorious fact that the "ages," or divine dispensations were arranged in direct reference to the Son of God, the appointed “Heir of all things." But if in relation to Him, we are interested in the sublime arrangement.
He is our 6 Head” and “Life,” and this is our title to the inheritance of the world. Our earthly head lost his paradise for himself and us: our heavenly Head gives us an immensely greater and nobler paradise, the new heavens and earth, and is Himself the guarantee that we, in resurrection life like His own, shall continue in possession for ever.
An instance of marvellous condensation of thought is found in Rom. xi. 36: “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things.' The history and destiny of creation, the divine meaning of God's dealings with Jew and Gentile, and the source and ultimate object of redemption glanced at in twelve words of one syllable ! No wonder that the adoring Apostle adds, “ To him be the glory” (ôoša), his glory, the glory due to Him, for this wonderful revelation of Himself! An intelligent review of the Divine conduct towards men necessarily unfolds the Divine character, and results in admiration and praise. The kindness and love (philanthropy, Tit. iii. 4, Greek) of God towards men is just the outflow His of nature ; it is Himself in action : “God is love." who understands God (Jer. ix. 23, 24; John xvii. 3) is sure to approve His conduct, and the approbation rises naturally into adoration. Heartily, because intelligently, he will repeat the apostolic doxology: “ To Him be the glory for ever. Amen.”
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Ex. xiii. 21-22.) Nor was this all the peculiarities of this gracious symbol of the Divine presence. It gave the pilgrims light by night, it was their forerunner, their guide in the untrodden desert, their protection from beasts of prey, and their shelter by day from the burning sun; but it was more than all this. It shielded them from the sight of their enemies ! “ It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and it was a cloud and darkness to the former, but it gave light by night to the latter ; so that the one came not near the other all the night.” (Ex. xiv. 20.) Doubtless what it was at the beginning of the ever memorable journey, it continued to the last. Are we less favoured now ? Less ? The Lord, not in cloud, but in our nature, is our Shield, Leader, Forerunner, and Life; and He is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. He deserves implicit trust, holy love, and fervent praise ! Let Him have them! He will conduct us safely through all the dangers and sorrows of the way, and make us more than conquerors shortly. He will, He will ! Blessed Jesus !
GOD'S PLEASURE IN SUFFERING.
NOTES ON Isaiah liji. 10.
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
with the revealed character of God in this testimony. A Father pleased to bruise His Son, and that Son the Messiah ! Why a very inferior parent will be pained when compelled to chastise an erring child. There is surely something here needs correction, or more thorough examination, to produce mental harmony on our part. For the terms of the first and last clauses of the passage are in signal contrast. Death and life, bondage* and freedom, are affirmed as God's pleasure in the same person. And that
person is He of whom it was afterwards said in the voice from heaven, " This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. iii. 17.) The latter clause, “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand,” is easy to understand, especially in the light of Matt. xii. 18, “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles." So that our attention is due chiefly to the import of the first statement.
Let us proceed systematically to our inquiry. We must first ascertain what the Scriptures teach us about the pleasure and nonpleasure of God.
E. xviii. 23, 32: “ Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn, and live ye.”
This is more intensely expressed in Ez. xxxiii. 11 : “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel ?” Psa. v. 4: “Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”
Our first finding is, that God has not pleasure in sin, nor in its consequence—the death of the sinner. And what He does not like-evil- shall cease to be. Therefore "the goodness of God leadeth to repentance.” (Rom. ii. 4.)
The second inquiry is, What does please God?
Job. xxii. 2, 3. Eliphaz asks, "Can a man be profitable to God, as he who is wise may be profitable to himself ? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous ? or gain to Him
*“ Bruised” is in Luke iv. 3, the rendering of “ bound" in Isa. lxi. 1.
that thou makest thy ways perfect ?” “Yes, it is both,” is the answer of the Psalmist. Ps. cxlvii. 11, “ The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.” Ps. cxliv. 4, “ The Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation.” 1 Chron. xxix. 17, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness.” And the prophet tells us what is God's enjoyment. Jer. ix. 24, “ But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth : for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”
Our second finding—that Jehovah's profit and pleasure consist in the righteousness of His people.
And as it is wisdom in a good master to reward and advance faithful servants, so Luke xii. 32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Phil. ii. 12, 13, “ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling : for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Eph. i. 4, 5, “ He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” 2 Thess. i. 5, 11, “ That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would counti you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
God's perfect kingdom requires perfect administrators. And as God delights in His grand purpose, so He will naturally be well pleased when His servants and pupils qualify for their positions therein. The last of the above testimonies gives us a new reading of a saying, “ the end justifies the means." We would put it thus - the end being just, the means will also be just.
And because it is an honourable thing to enter the kingdom, it is also honourable to suffer for it. And not only honourable but desirable. Psa. cxix. 71, 67, 75, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word. I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." 1 Pet. ii. 19-21, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently ? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” 1 Pet. iv. 1, 2, 13, 16, 19, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind : for he that hath suffered
in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God ..... But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy ... Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf .... Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
This is our fourth and grand finding—that physical and moral suffering are our Father's means of teaching men righteousness, and of educating them for His kingdom.
And as Jesus the Christ knew the prophecies concerning himself, He, and the apostles to whom He taught these things, will be our best instructors as to the significance of the passage we are examining. Jesus Himself affirmed an inquiry, Luke xxiv. 26, 46, “ Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer." Peter, in the above-quoted testimonies has shown us how and why Christ has suffered for us: and also the value of suffering in itself. Another apostle teaches the benefit to Christ personally from the same. Heb. v. 8, 9, “ Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered ; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." ii. 18, 10, “ For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Which leads us up and back to the testimony of Isaiah. And we see that all is according to "the eternal fitness of things.” Because “it became Him,' a faithful Creator " and the Planner of salvation to perfect its Captain, therefore He was “pleased to bruise Him and put Him to grief.” The joyful prospect of the middle section of the passage—“He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days,” equal to His “bringing many sons to glory caused the Son to endure the cross and despise the shame." (Heb. xii. 2.) If the subject of the “grief” could have pleasure
. therein and desire it (Luke xii. 50), can we not see that His greater Father could be pleased at the bruising of the Son, because of its part in the blessed results of the eternal salvation ? Halifax.