Ecclesiastical Babylon has fallen in chapter 17. destroyed by the ten kings in the midst of the week, when the Beast reached His diabolical supremacy and entered the Temple. We observe now, the course and character of commercial or social Babylon, until this too has fallen, just prior to our Lord's return in glory.
There is a double metaphor; Babylon is viewed as a Woman and as a City, as are the Redeemed in ch. 21. The Kings, in their hatred, have rejoiced to see the end of Babylon religiously, but it is to their advantage that commercial Babylon should be kept very much alive. Indeed it would seem that with the religious aspect now removed. Babylon becomes, more than ever, the haunt and habitation of every evil. Notice the three-fold uncleaness of v. 2. Babylon has become the home of Demons, the hold of unclean spirits, and the very prison house of every foul and hateful thing emanating from the powers of the air. All find a dwelling in Babylon. The evil sway of the Harlot-City is universal and both merchants and monarchs fill their coffers and wax rich with her luxuries. The saints of that day, as the saints of this day. are expected to be separated from everything Babylonish.
Her sins reach unto heaven. Is there an allusion here to Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel? Like brick upon brick she builds up the accumulation of her sins, and as surely as God judged Babel then, so will He judge this Babel also. And He will judge with Divine retribution. As she has done, so God will exact accordingly rendering torment and sorrow for the carnal delights in which she has revelled.
How unlike the true Church is this Babylon. "I sit a Queen." she says, "and am no widow." She does not miss the Beloved. His absence means nothing to her. She lives deliciously and carnally, and suddenly the Lord God will render to her mourning and sorrow and famine and death. "She shall be burned with fire." Oh. the irony and exactness of her judgment. Once Babylon burned Jerusalem; now Babylon is burned. All that she did to Zion, God will do to her (Jer. 51.24). and there is universal lament.
The Kings, the merchants, and the shipmasters cry "Alas, Alas," (v. 10), "Alas. Alas," (v. 16). "Alas, Alas." (v. 19). Soon we shall hear the heavens echo. "Hallelujah"! "Hallelujah"! "Hallelujah"! (Ch. 19. v. 1-6).
Commercial Babylon trades in no less than twenty-eight items of merchandise in verses 12-13. These are in seven categories. There are precious stones and metals; fabrics and materials; furniture and vessels; perfumes and spices; luxury foods; livestock and transport; and, finally, the bodies and souls of men. Babylon knows no sentiment. Bodies and souls of men are callously regarded as merchantable as sheep and horses or brass and iron. Such is the character and cruelty of that great system even in our own day.
But there now appears, in v. 14, an expression which is soon to be repeated many times—"No more"! Her days of delicacies and luxuries are over. The King is coming. In one hour her greatness is destroyed, abolished in divine judgment. What awful vocabulary tells the story of that final fall. Weeping; wailing; mourning; lamenting; crying; bewailing; fear; torment; desolation; vengeance; violence. All these words appear in the text that tells of Babylon's final doom.
An angel casts a great millstone into the sea. It is a symbol of the casting down of the Great City, and it is "no more." There is "no more" the sound of music and merriment; "no more" the sound of the craftsman's tool; and "no more" the sound of agriculture. All the sounds of living are gone. "No more" light; "no more" joy. Everything is cold, silent, dead, and dark. Arts and crafts, home and industry, commerce and family, are all affected. How different are the "no mores" of chs. 21, 22, where sorrow and tears and pain and death and curse and night shall be "no more."
This is the end of a Babylon which has killed God's prophets and saints down the centuries, and which has deceived the nations by her sorceries. We now arrive at chapter 19.
"Alleluiah." is. of course, the Greek form of the more familiar Hallelujah." "Hallel" is praise, and "Jah" is a form of the Divine Name Jehovah, hence the word means. "Praise Jehovah," "Praise the Lord." It is interesting that these are the only Hallelujahs in the New Testament, and that we now have four in swift succession. Why? There is undoubtedly a time and a place for "Hallelujah." Some dear saints lean to one extreme and use the word unintelligently and out of place. Others of us are more conservative, and we restrain ourselves when perhaps we ought not. How glad sometimes we are when there is opportunity to release our full hearts in the singing of "hallelujah, what a Saviour!" Here in Revelation 19. our New Testament is drawing to a close. Four Gospels have been written, and no "Hallelujah." One book of Church history we have had, with no "Halleluiah." Twenty-one inspired letters from several Apostles to Churches and individuals, and still no "Hallelujah;" and now, four Hallelujahs in six verses. Again we ask, "Why?" It is all so simple and so beautiful. The King is coming! He is coming to be vindicated, to receive His rights and His Kingdom. It is the moment of glory for which Heaven has waited. And, unwittingly, earth has been groaning for this moment too. Now it has arrived. It is the time for "Hallelujah."
The hallelujahs are suitably divided. The first three have to do with the destruction of Babylon. The fourth explicitly announces the advent of the King. Much people, a great voice, and the first Hallelujah, ascribe salation and glory and honour and power to the Lord Who has judged the great harlot. "Glory and honour and power"! The verv things for which Babylon committed harlotry; they are God's, and He has vindicated Himself and avenged His martyred servants.
But not only is Babylon judged the judgment is "for ever and ever." It is eternal. Babylon thus judged shall not rise again, and in the knowledge of this they again sav, "Hallelujah."
The twenty-four elders now join, and the four living ones to whom we were first introduced in chaoter 4. Heaven reverberates with praise. As we have already seen, the three-fold Hallelujah from Heaven is the divine answer to the three-fold woe of earth.
Every heavenly voice now blends for the fourth "Hallelujah." It is a mighty crescendo. A great multitude! The voice of many waters! The voice of mighty thunderings! Heaven exults. The King is coming. The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. With His Bride He will make His advent, with the armies of heaven in attendance. The Marriage has been effected; the Marriage Supper is now to come; but first, Megiddo, Olivet, Edom, and victory.
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(22) The Ascension of Christ
The Death of the Lord Jesus is the wonder of wonders, and the glory of glories, yet, this is not the end. Beyond that great transaction is the Resurrection. Ascension and Exaltation of our glorious Lord. Because of the prominence given in the Acts, Epistles and Revelation to the resurrection of Christ and His presence now in heaven, it is not needful to say much about His Ascension.
Where it is not definitely affirmed in the N.T. it is always assumed. In John's Gospel there are ten references to this prospective event (John 6.62; 7.33; 12.32; 14.12, 28; 16.5.10,17.28; 20.17).
THE NECESSITY OF IT. There is no lack of evidence that the Ascension was an essential part of the work of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24.51; John 3.14; 6.62; 7.33,39).
It was a vital link in a chain of fulfilled prophecy (Psa. 16. v. 10,11; 110.1; Acts 2.32-36).
The claims of God all settled (Heb. 1.3; 9.26-28; 10.12; 1 Pet. 3.22).
The character and claims of Christ vindicated (John 6.62). The estimation of men was then reversed. Once despised and abhorred by men (Isa. 49.7; 53.4; Psa. 22.6,7); He was welcomed in heaven (Acts 2.36; 4.11; Heb. 1.13).
It was the necessary completion of Christ's death and resurrection; it proved the full acceptance by God of His single sacrifice for sins for all time (Heb. 10.12). As the Resurrection marked Him out as Son of God (Rom. 1.8; Phil. 2.9-11); the Ascension marked Him out as Lord (Acts 2.34-36; Rom. 14.9).
He had fulfilled all the requirements of His Father for His earthly life, and God's presence symbolised in the cloud, waited to usher Him back into the glory which He had with the Father before the world was (John 17.5).
He entered Heaven and keeps the door open for redeemed humanity. It gives Him the right to bestow eternal life to every believer (John 17.2).
Why did He not ascend to Heaven immediately after His resurrection? It is twofold:— firstly. He had to open the disciples understanding to the meaning of His work (Luke 21.45-48); secondly. He gradually taught them to realize that His presence with them did not depend on their seeing Him. This was an indis-pensible preliminary to their reception of the Spirit (Acts 1.4.8).
He entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (Heb. 9.24; 6.19.20).
THE REALITY OF IT. The event is plainly declared in the opening of the Acts; it took place forty days after the Resurrection (oh. 13). It took place at the Mount of Olives (Luke 24.50; see Mark 11.1; Acts 1.12). The manner of ^is going is variously stated, and the words employed are full of significance, indicating the Departure, the Journey, and the Arrival. First. "He went up" (Acts 1.10). and that "He ascended" (Eph. 4.8,9). affirming His Departure from Mount Olivet in the presence of His disciples, after He had talked with them (Mark 16.19). His personal power as well as the glory of the Father effected this. He was "taken no" by Divine power (Acts 1.9). and "He was carried up" (Luke 24.51), there is the Journey. Lastly, we read "He was received up in glory" (I Tim. 3.16) and welcomed in heaven, which points to His Arrival. This great event was. then in three stages. He left the earth (Luke 24.51); He passed through the heavens (Heb. 4.14 R.V.) and He reached the throne (Heb. 8.1). Thus did the Son of Man ascend to the Father's right hand (1 Pet. 3.22; Eph. 4.10 RV).
As He ascended, our Lord stretched out His hands, the last the disciples saw of Him was His pierced hand, lifted up in blessing (Luke 21.50; Num. 6.23-26).
THE SUFFICIENCY OF IT. The redeeming purpose and process of God as unfolded in history become universally operative by the Ascension of Christ. He became the possessor of all power in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28.18). It was an act of God's power (Eph. 1.19-22). It vouchsafed to His disciples His universal presence (Matt. 28.20). He entered upon His work as Mediator (1 Tim. 2.5,6). The Mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8.6); "surety of a better covenant" (Heb. 7.22). Our Captain (Heb. 2.10; 6.20); Advocate (1 John 2.1); the Conqueror to receive the gifts promised Him for His Church (Eph. 4.8; Psa. 68.18). He ascended to send forth the Holy Spirit (John 7.39; 16.7; Acts 2.33). He has absolute authority over angels, authorities and powers in heaven and on earth (1 Pet. 3.22; Eph. 1.20-23; Col. 1.16). He is the Intercessor not before the throne but IS SEATED on it (Rom. 8.34; Heb. 7.25; Isa. 53.12). He has Kingly dignity, honour for what He was, and reward for what He did (Heb. 1.3; 2.9; 10.12). He exercises on our behalf His High Priestly ministry (Heb. 4.14 - 5.10). He ascended to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14.2,3). By grace we share through faith, the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ (Eph. 2.6). His Ascension in power is the prelude to His coming in power as the divine Judge (Dan. 7.13,14; Matt. 26.64; Acts 10.42; 2 Thess. 1.6-10).
MESSAGE : Set your affection on things above (Col. 3.1); Give Him your allegiance, yea your all (2 Cor. 8.5); abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15.58).
WHAT OF THE INFANTS?
by EDWARD JAMINSON
What has become of our darling baby? Is she in heaven? Shall we see her again? For centuries these bewildering questions have haunted the minds of heart-broken parents, whose one desire is to find consolation and hope in their hour of grief. Let us then examine the Scriptural teaching on the subject.
First, let us extend our deep sympathy to dear believing parents who have passed through such lonely experiences in recent days. May the comfort found in the Scriptures illuminate the mind and console the heart in Christ Jesus.
While there is no Scripture which categorically states that all infants are saved, yet there are many Biblical references which undoubtedly lead to such a conclusion. We must therefore draw encouragement from the argument that "as infants were made partakers of Adam's sin and fall without any act or volition of their own, therefore, they are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ" since they have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. (Romans 5:14).
SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
The view of Protestant liberals that infants are saved on the grounds of their innocence, having done neither good or bad. But surely this view ignores the universal sinfulness of mankind and the fact that salvation is possible only through Christ.
Another Protestant group believes that though infants are born into the world depraved, a universal grace, extended on the ground of Christ's death for all, is bestowed upon all at birth by which, when reaching accountability, all, if they will, are able to choose the salvation of Christ and by which those dying in infancy are saved. This theory is a purely human invention and without Scriptural support.
The Roman Catholic church believes in salvation only to infants who are baptised by authority of the Church. This erroneous view is based on a misinterpretation of John 3.5.
THEIR CONDITION BY NATURE.
Scripture makes plain the fact that as far back as conception, sin is present. Therefore children are "conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity." (Psalm 51.5). The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2.3 declares that all are "by nature the children of wrath." While the Lord himself said "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3.6).
From these texts we learn that infants cannot escape inheriting a sinful nature (Romans 5.12-14). The very fact of infants being subject to death, which is the divine judgment on a fallen nature, proves their possession of such a nature.
It is obvious that children up to a certain age are not responsible, since they have no knowledge of right and wrong (Deuteronomy 1.39). Consequently they have performed no conscious responsible act (Romans 9.11). Of course to determine an age limit in this respect would be impossible, as some children mature later than others, this being subject to the mental and moral development of the individual child.
THE BASIS OF INFANT SALVATION
It is clear that David believed in infant salvation. Having lost his infant son, he acknowledged God and said, "I shall go to him but he shall not return to me." (2 Samuel 12.16-23) Contrast those words with his lament over his wicked son who had lost not only his life but also his soul. He was comforted in the fact that he would meet the babe again.
As members of a fallen race children cannot be saved apart from the redemptive work of Christ. The question then must be asked, "were they included in the scope of His death?" Let us note what that death embraced—
John 1 : 29 "the sin of the world"
I John 4 : 14 "the Saviour of the world"
1 John 2 : 2 "the sins of the whole world"
2 Cor. 5:15 "He died for all"
2 Cor. 5 : 19 "reconciling the world unto Himself"
Heb. 2 : 9 "He tasted death for every man"
From these passages we deduce the following. That potentially, the sins of all the world were laid on Jesus and borne away on the cross. Therefore infants are saved, not because they are innocent, but because they are included in the race for which the Saviour died, and have not forfeited their salvation by wilful sin or unbelief. Without personal act of theirs, infants inherited corruption from Adam, so without personal act of theirs, salvation is provided for them in the sacrifice of Calvary.
THE TEACHING OF THE LORD.
What a smile must have shone on his countenance as the Lord took that little one and set him on the midst and said, "In Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in Heaven." (Matt. 18.11). The use of the word "angel" in this passage seems to be similar to the same word used in Acts 12.15 "and they said it is Peter's angel."
When speaking to Zacchaeus in Luke 19.10 the Lord said, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." But when referring to little children the word "seek" is omitted, apparently because unnecessary, "For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost." (Matt. 18.11).
The next question to ask is, when are infants saved? It has been said that they are counted among the lost while living, and among the saved after death, which would lead us to believe that they are saved at the first view of the glorified Lord (1 John 3.2). It was Strong who said, "As the remains of natural depravity in the Christian are eradicated, not at death, but through the sight of Chris and union with Him, so the first moment of consciousness for the infant may be coincident with a view of Christ the Saviour which accomplishes the entire sanctification of its nature."
In conclusion we confess that we know little about the subject, nevertheless we are confident that the Judge of all the earth will do right. With such assurance in our hearts, may we know His comfort and strength in such a time of crisis.
STAND STILL AND SEE!
by D. N. MARTIN
And Moses said unto the people. Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall light for you, and ye shall hold your peace (Exod. 14. v. 13, 14). Here is the primary attitude which faith assumes in the presence of trial. 'Stand still; this is impossible to flesh and blood, all who know, in any measure, the restlessness of the human mind, under anticipated trial and difficulty, will be able to form some conception of what is involved in standing still. Human nature must be DOING something. It will rush here and there, attempting to have some hand in the master. Though it may try to justify and sanctify its worthless doings, by confering upon them the imposing and popular title 'a legitimate use of means' yet really they are the positive fruits of unbelief, which always excludes God, and sees nothing but the black cloud of its own creation. Unbelief creates and magnifies difficulties, causing us to try to remove them by our own fruitless activities, which only causes a dust cloud to arise preventing us from seeing God's salvation. Faith on the contrary, lifts the afflicted above the problem, straight to God Himself enabling one to stand still. We gain nothing by our own anxious efforts. 'We cannot make a hair white or black; 'or add one cubit to our stature!' What could the children of Israel do at the Red Sea? Could they dry it up? Could they level the mountains? Could they annihilate the Egyptians? Impossible! They were enclosed within the impenetrable wall of difficulties, in view of which nature could only tremble and feel its own impotency. This is the precise time for God to act. when unbelief is removed from the scene God enters and to get a right view of His actions we must 'stand still! Every movement of nature is, as far as it goes a definite hindrance to our perception and enjoyment of divine intervention on our behalf. This is true of us in every stage of our history. It is true of us as sinners when, under the uneasy sense of sin upon our conscience, we are tempted to resort to our own doings, in order to obtain relief. Then truly we must 'stand still' to 'see the salvation of God.' For what could we do in the matter of making an atonement for sin? Could we have stood with the Son of God upon the cross? Could we have accompanied Him down into the horrible pit and the miry clay? Could we have forced our way upon the eternal rock, on which, in resurrection. He has taken His stand? Every believer will at once pronounce the thought to be blasphemy. God is alone in redemption, and as for us we have but to stand still and see the salvation of God, the very fact of it being God's salvation, proves that man has nothing to do in it. The same is true of us, from the moment we have entered upon our Christian life. In every fresh difficulty be it large or small, our wisdom is to stand still, to cease from our own works, and find our repose in God's salvation. Nor can we make any distinction as to difficulties. We cannot say there are some trifling difficulties which we ourselves can manage; while there are others which nothing but the hand of God can avail. We sometimes find ourselves carried triumphantly through the heaviest trials, while at other times, we quake, falter, and breakdown under the most ordinary dispensations. Why is this? Because in the former we are constrained to roll our burden on the Lord; whereas in the latter, we foolishly attempt to carry it ourselves. The believer, is in himself, if he only realised it, like an exhausted receiver, in which a pound and a feather have equal momenta. The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace. Precious assurance! How eminently suited to tranquillise the spirit in view of the most appalling difficulties and dangers! The Lord not only puts Himself between us and our sins, but also between us and our circumstances. By doing the former. He gives us peace of conscience; by doing the latter He gives us peace of heart. That these two things are very distinct every experienced believer knows, very many may have peace of conscience, who have not peace of heart. They have through grace and by faith, found Christ, in the divine efficacy of His blood, between them and all their sins; but they are not able in the same simple way, to realise Him as standing, in His divine wisdom, love and power, between them and their circumstances.
This makes a material difference in the condition of the soul, as well as in the testimony of one's character. Nothing tends more to glorify the Name of Jesus than that quiet repose of spirit which results from having Him between us and everything that could be a matter of anxiety to our hearts. 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee (Isa. 26. v. 3). But someone may feel disposed to ask the question "Are we not to do anything?' This may be answered by asking another namely, 'What can we do? All who really know themselves must answer 'Nothing! If therefore, we can do nothing, had we better not 'stand still"? If the Lord is acting for us, had we better not stand back? Shall we run before Him, Shall we busily intrude ourselves upon His sphere of action? Shall we get in His way? No-one would think of bringing a lighted candle to add brightness to the sun at mid-day; and yet the man who would do so might well be acknowledged as being wise, in comparison to him who attempts to assist God by his bustling officiousness. However when God in His great mercy, opens the way faith may walk in it. It only ceases from man's way in order to walk in God's. It is only when we have learned to 'stand still' that we are able to effectually 'go forward' To attempt the latter, until we have learned the former, is sure to result in the exposure of our folly and weakness. It is therefore true wisdom, in all times of difficulty and perplexity, to stand still" — to wait only upon God, and He will, assuredly, open a way for us; and then we can peacefully and happily 'go forward.' There is no uncertainty when God makes the way for us. but every self devised path, must prove a path of doubt and hesitation. The unregenerate man may move along with apparent confidence and decisiveness in his own ways, but one of the most distinctive elements, in the new creation, is self-distrust and the element that answers it is confidence in God. It is when our eyes have seen God's salvation that we can walk therein: but this can never be distinctly seen until we have been brought to the end of our own poor doings. There is force and beauty in the expression 'see the salvation of God.' The fact of our being required to 'see' God's salvation, proves the salvation to be a complete one. It teaches that salvation is something begun and revealed by God, to be seen, enjoyed and appreciated by us. It is not a partnership between God and man, if it were, it could not be called God's salvation. In order to be His, it must be wholly divested of everything pertaining to man. The only effect of human endeavour is to raise a cloud of dust which obscures the view of God's salvation. "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." Moses himself seems to have been brought to a standstill, as appears from God's question "Wherefore criest thou to me?" Moses could tell the people to stand still and see the salvation of God, while he himself in his own spirit was being exercised in an earnest cry to God. However there is no use crying, when we ought to be acting, the converse is also true, there is no point in acting, when we should be waiting. Yet such is ever our way. We try to go forward when we ought to stand still, and vice versa. In Israel's case the question may have been asked "Where shall we go?" To all appearances, there lay an insurmountable barrier to their going forward, with the sea before them, this was the point. Human nature could never solve the question. But we can rest assured, God never gives a command without at the same time, giving the power to obey. The real condition of the heart may be tried by the command, but the soul, that is by grace, disposed to obey, receives power from above to do so. When Christ commanded the man with the withered hand to stretch it forth, he may have quite reasonably said "How can I stretch forth an arm which hangs dead at my side?" But, he did not raise any objection whatever for with the command, came the power to obey, both from the same source. Thus, also, in Israel's position we see that with the command to go forward came the provision of grace. "But lift up thou thy rod and stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea!'" Here was the path of faith. The hand of God opens the way for us to take the first step, and this is all that faith ever asks. God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. We must take one step, and then we get light for the next. This keeps the mind in abiding dependence upon God.
THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF LIFE
"THIS THING IS FROM ME" (1 Kings 12.24)
(This was found after his death in J. N. DARBY'S Bible)
The disappointments of life are in reality only the decrees of love. I have a message for thee today, my child : I will whisper it softly in thine ear, in order that the storm clouds which appear may be gilt with glory, and that the thorns on which thou may'st have to walk may be blunted.
The message is but short—a tiny sentence, but allow it to sink into the depths of thine heart and to be to thee as a cushion on which to rest thy weary head. "This thing is from Me."
Hast thou never thought that all which concerns thee concerns Me also? He that toucheth thee toucheth the apple of Mine eye (Zech. 2.8). Thou hast been precious in Mine eyes—that is why I take a special interest in thine upbringing. When temptation assails thee, and the "enemy comes in like a flood," I would wish thee to know that "this is from Me." I am the God of circumstances. Thou hast not been placed where thou art by chance, but because it is the place I have chosen for thee. Didst thou not ask to become humble? Behold, I have placed thee in the very place this is to be learned. It is by thy surroundings and tin companions that the working of My will is to come about.
Hast thou money difficulties? Is it hard to keep within thine income? "This thing is from Me," for I am He who passeth all things. I wish thee to draw everything from Me. and that thou entirely depend upon Me.
Hast thou desired fervently to do some great work for Me? Instead of that thou hast been laid on one side, on a bed of sickness and suffering. "This thing is from Me." I was unable to attract thine attention whilst thou wast so active. I wish to teach thee some of my deep lessons. It is only those who have learned to wait patiently who can serve Me. My greatest workers are sometimes those who are laid aside from active service in order that they may learn to wield the weapon of prayer.
Art thou suddenly called to occupy a difficult position full of responsibility? Go forward, counting on Me. I am giving thee the position full of difficulties for the reason that Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy work, and in all the business of thy hand (Deut. 15.18). This day I place in thy hand a pot of Holy Oil. Draw from it freely my child, that all the circumstances rising along the pathway, each word that gives thee pain, each interruption trying to thy patience, each manifestation of thy feebleness, may be anointed with this oil. Remember that interruptions are divine instructions. The sting will go, in the measure in which thou seest Me in all things. Therefore, "set your hearts unto all the words that I testify among you this day . . . for it is your life." (Deut. 32.46-47).
My riches are illimitable. (Phil. 4.19). Put My promise to the proof, so that it may not be said of thee "Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord thy God."
Art thou passing through a night of affliction? "This thing is from Me." I am the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53.3) I have left thee without human support that in turning to Me thou mightest obtain eternal consolation (2 Thess. 2.16-17).
Has some friend disappointed thee—one to whom thou hadst opened thine heart? "This thing is from Me." I have allowed this disappointment that thou mayest learn that the best friend is Jesus. He preserves us from falling, fights for us our combats—yea, the best friend is Jesus. I long to be thy confidant.
Has someone said false things of thee? Leave that and come closer to Me, under My wings, away from the place of wordy dispute, for I will bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noon-day (Psa. 37.6). Have thy plans been all upset? Art thou crushed and weary? "This thing is from Me." Hast thou made plans and then coming asked Me to bless them? I wish to make plans for thee. I will take the responsibility, for it is too heavy for thee; thou couldst not perform it alone (Ex. 18.18). Thou art but an instrument and not an agent.
2nd Epistle to the THESSALONIANS
by J. HEADING, Aberystwyth
VERSE 14. Verses 6-13 have been in the plural. But now Paul changed to the singular, so as to focus attention on individual and personal responsibility in the matter. Paul sensed that there may be an individual who would not obey the apostolic commands. This is, of course, not like 2 Thessa-lonians 1.8, where unbelievers are viewed as not obeying the gospel. Neither is it like Romans 6.17. where the saints are seen as having "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine" that had been given to them, for Paul's object was "to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed," (15.18). In fact, the mention of a believer not obeying the apostolic word is unique in the N.T., for our verse is the only one in the N.T. where disobedience on the part of a believer is explicitly visualized.
The assembly too has its responsibility in the matter. Paul did not address himself to the elders as in Acts 20.28. though such men were responsible for admonishment in the Thessalonian assembly, (1 Thess. 5.12). Rather, Paul gave a general injunction, to note or mark "that man." to observe signs of disobedience. This does not allow men to set themselves up as self-righteous individuals condemning their fellow-brethren. If we have to note or mark anyone for failure, we must first take heed to ourselves, else our assessment may be deeply hypocritical.
The action to be taken was to "have no company with him." The other times this concept occurs in Paul's Epistles arc both in 1 Corinthians 5, verses 9,11. A list is also provided giving the kind of failure that gives rise to this discipline, namely, if a man be covetous, an idolater, railer. drunkard. How careful one should be if one attempts to add to this list. Paul added false doctrine in 1 Timothy 1. 19-20. Yet the objectives may be different in each case. In I Corinthians 5, the man was delivered to Satan (that is, on the outside of the assembly) "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ," (v. 5). But in Thessalonica, the objective was that the man "may be ashamed." Here, a sense of guilt would come out into the open, with a realization that his conduct was out of keeping with being present in a holy company. If the saints show themselves patterns of good works, this should lead to opponents being "ashamed, having no evil things to say" about them, (Titus 2. 7-8). True Christian life should make others feel guilty.
VERSE 15. What grace is shown: the brother is still a brother, and not an enemy. The lack of Christian fellowship is not equivalent to being uncharitable or to treating the man as an enemy. He is still a brother in a family while in this position of discipline, but fellowship is out of the question, else the assembly will be condoning the disorder cf the brother. In Paul's day, this procedure no doubt worked well; there was no where else for the man to go to, no denominational church just round the corner which, to gain another member, would turn a blind eye to the disorderly conduct. Today, it is quite different; in these days of division, it is so easy for such a man just to join another church. In Thessalonica, the man on the outside had to be admonished, namely warned. This is not the work of any young convert, but of the elders "over you in the Lord," (1 Thess. 5.12). Paul himself warned "every man." (Col. 1.28), "night and day with tears," (Acts 20.31). All other references to admonishment relate to warning inside the local assembly; this is the only one on the outside. It was to gain repentance and restoration. With that exhortation Paul finished the message of the Epistle, except for concluding remarks.
VERSE 16. Here is another short prayer, "the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means." This is the present state of heart and mind of the believer in spite of present tribulation. Men may wage war without, but there can be peace within. And this peace comes through no natural means, rather from the Origin of all true peace the Lord of peace Himself. Elsewhere. He is called the "God of peace," (Rom. 15.33; 16.20; Phil. 4.9; 1 Thess. 5.23; Heb. 13.20), and the "King of peace," (Heb. 7.2). There can be no other source of peace in a world governed by political, moral and religious warfare, for the Lord said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you," (John 14.27). Moreover, as Paul stated, this is available at all times and under all circumstances. Men on the outside aspire after peace of a different character; they cry "Peace and safety," (1 Thess. 5.3). but ultimately destruction will come. True peace is available only for His own people, essentially brought about by His presence, as Paul wrote, "The Lord be with you all." The connection between peace and His presence is seen in Romans 15.33, "the God of peace be with you all," as well as in 2 Corinthians 13.11 and Philippians 4.9.
VERSE 17. Often, someone else actually wrote Paul's Epistles; for example, "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord," (Rom. 16.22)— a little personal insertion on the page of divine inspiration. It appears that Paul had to write the whole of Galatians with bad eyesight, "Ye see how large a letter 1 have written unto you with mine own hand," (Gal. 6.11), the word "letter" meaning not the Epistle but the actual handwriting. Elsewhere, he stressed that the final greetings were "with mine own hand." (1 Cor. 16.21; Col. 4.18). In other words, in the light of the false epistle that the Thessalonians had firmly believed came from the apostle, Paul thereafter determined to authenticate all his letters with his own handwritten greetings. We would feel that this personal handwritten conclusion would also embrace the word of grace in verse 18. Even if actual greetings from himself do not appear in every Epistle, yet the concluding grace is found at the end of every Epistle.
VERSE 18. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Such grace begins the Epistle, (1.2), and also terminates it. This feature may be found in all Paul's Epistles. Some endings may be briefer, as "Grace be with thee," (I Tim. 6.21). In his last Epistle, such an expression of grace changes suddenly from the singular to the plural. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you", 2 Tim. 4.22 (a feature that modern translations that refuse to use "thou, thee, thy" cannot render properly).
It is interesting to note that in only two Epistles is anything else added after this word of grace. In Romans 16. 25-27 comes a great doxology after the grace in verse 24. a fitting conclusion to the wonders of the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 16.24 "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus" appears after the grace in verse 23, no doubt to allay fears in the readers minds that love may be missing after all the corrections necessary in the Epistle.
"JEHOVAH — JIREH"
by R. R. WEISMANTEL and H. T. KIMBER, Australia
"Abraham and "the ram . . in the stead of his son"—Gen. 22
1. The very fact that "Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh (Jehovah will provide)" indicates that he spiritually discerned that God had provided the ram as an offering "in the stead of his son," (vv. 13-14). The sacrifice that God required, and the substitute that Isaac needed, were both provided in that one ram. A blest type indeed of our Lord Jesus, Who was both a Sacrifice "to God" and "for us," (Eph. 5.2). Thus does He meet all the requirements of a holy God, and the needs of guilty sinners.
2. Isaac could not have been offered, because he was not "without blemish and without spot," (1 Peter 1.19). Of course, God had told Abraham to offer him. But God knew beforehand what He would do, and therefore provided the ram to meet the need, the ram being typical of a sinless victim.
3. Furthermore, all was there - the altar, the fire and the sacrificial knife; all except an acceptable sacrifice. Could God, could Abraham, have left it at that? No! That altar's need must be met by the shedding of the blood and the offering-up of the body. A holy God could not leave it at that in the face of Heb. 9.22 with Lev. 17.11.
4. Then again, there is a Covenant to be ratified, vv. 15-18. How could this be effected without the blood of an acceptable sacrifice? Refer again to Heb. 9.22 in its context, along with Gen. 8.20-22; 15.4-16; Ex. 24.4-8. It was therefore necessary that the blood of the ram be shed in ratification of the Covenant, guaranteeing its efficacy. Because the shedding of the blood of the ram-offering pointed forward to "the precious blood of Christ."
5. Again, why did Abraham lift up his eyes? (v. 13). It was not by chance, because his action is emphasised in a 3-fold way by the separate words "lifted up," "looked" and "behold." This is no chance happening nor coincidence. "Behold" means "Lo!" It indicates something special. His attention is drawn to something spectacular. Who would do this but God? Does it not indicate that if God stayed His hand with Isaac, then He must have something else to take his place, a substitute? This God did, by supplying the ram. Not a ram just happening to pass by, but one specially detained "in a thicket by his horns." Note also that "horns" here is the same root as "horns of the altar" in Exodus 27.2, Psalm 118.27. "Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." Surely it was God Who supplied the ram, "Jehovah Jireh." This being so. Abraham would have done wrong if he had NOT taken "the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."
6. Thus did Abraham respond in full to the will of God. Firstly, by delivering up his son. and secondly, by then offering-up the substitute ram as a burnt offering. He had the altar and all that pertained to it. The altar must have a sacrifice. But he is forbidden to carry out the sacrifice with his son. So he looks up, and that surely to his God, and immediately finds the need met by God supplying that which could be slain and offered-up, acceptable to Jehovah.
7. Finally, it can surely be recognized from the above that the whole procedure in Genesis 22 as a type, can only be complete by the TWO actions performed by Abraham. They are, firstly, he provides and delivers up his son, receiving him back in a figure of resurrection, (Hebrews 11.19); and secondly, he actually does offer up that which is typical of a sinless victim. These two actions combine to point to the One and Only Perfect Sacrifice of the Lamb of God. our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A Sacrifice provided by the Father to meet His righteous claims on behalf of the repentant sinner who trusts in the cleansing power of the precious blood of His Son. Without these two actions, the type would be incomplete. But combined together, they clearly speak of sacrificial death, and resurrection, as found only in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. John 3.16 with 1 Corinthians 15.3-4.
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK OF RUTH
by E. R. BOWER
Ruth 1.1. "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife, and his two sons."
There can be no quarrel with those who have expressed the sentiment that the book of Ruth shines out like a lamp amid the darkness of 'those days.' The book of the Judges ends upon the note of 'those days' and thus it is fitting that this book which bears the name of a woman, and behind which lies the purposes of a woman— and of God should begin upon the same note, "the days when the judges ruled."
A famine in the land was no part of God's plan for His people. What came to Israel was a direct result of their own disobedience; their own failure to hear and to obey the voice of God (Deut. 28.15). Even a cursory reading of the curses upon Israel will serve to show how one family is affected by the disobedience of a nation, and vice versa. It is the suffering thus engendered which persuaded Elime-lech to leave his inheritance and sojourn in Moab. Intending to sojourn, he stayed.
Out of the ashes of sorrow there arises something of a wondrous beauty—the story of Ruth the Moabitess; the story of a stranger who succeeded to the inheritance of Elimelech through the inspiration of Naomi and the generosity of Boaz the kinsman redeemer. We should not forget Naomi's part in the story. Ruth titles the book, but it is Naomi who designs the plot and brings to us the kinsman redeemer as seen in the mighty man of wealth.
We wonder if Elimelech had stayed by his inheritance, would he have made the same success story as that of Boaz.
It was the inheritance which he had neglected which needed the services of a kinsman redeemer, and with the inheritance went Ruth, daughter-in-law of most excellent character.
The Proverb (24.33-34) "so shall thy poverty come" might well serve as a picture of Elimelech who failed whilst Boaz prospered.
The word of Boaz to the unnamed 'nearer kinsman' is worthy of note - - "which was our brother Elimelech's" (chap. 4.3). "Our brother."
Thus is worked out another principle. Psalm 49 records, 'They that trust in wealth . . . none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption . . their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever . . . but God will redeem the soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me."
So the psalmist expressed the thought of the Kinsman. God. and he may well have thought of Boaz, ancestor of David to whom came the promise of an everlasting house.
Elimelech fell under the curse of the law, but "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3.13) for "when the fulness of time was come. God sent forth his Son. made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4.4-5). This is seen again in Ephes. 1.13-14, ". . . sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
Thus in the days "when the judges ruled" when men "did that which was right in their own eyes" we see the FORSAKEN INHERITANCE.
Chapter 2.1. "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz."
Chapter 1 began with famine, and an unfruitful inheritance: a forsaken inheritance and goes on to speak of death and bitterness, but shining through is the silver thread of love and devotion.
Chapter 2 commences with plenty, a fruitful and cared-for inheritance and goes on to life and blessing as a result of that silver thread of love.
Ellimelech and Boaz came from the same stock - they were near kinsmen. One had prospered; the other failed. One had reaped the fruits of His obedience to the voice of God; the other the fruits of his disobedience. It may be thought that this is a harsh judgment upon Elimelech. This may be so, but nevertheless the truth is that they were both dwellers in Bethlehem —the house of bread. To one. blessing; to the other bitterness. Surely the law of God is seen in operation here—the law as we see in Deut. 28.
A further contrast is seen in Boaz himself. He is a character who stands out and shines out in those dark days. Here was a man who could well have been a judge himself, but not as a man of war; rather, a man of peace. A lesson here for the shepherds of the flock of God. "If a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (I Tim. 3.5).
He is a man who does not condemn the Gentile in the midst, but looks at the character of the one who, although outside the law, yet displayed the inward requirements of the law—love and devotion. How well the letter to the Romans is illustrated by this jewel of a book, Ruth. More, if ever any particular N.T. passage could be applied to an O.T. passage it is the application of the Ephesian letter to the book of Ruth. And we entitle chapter 2—"BOTH ONE."
(To be continued)
THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth, Devon
When the Holy Spirit writes of the Persons of the Trinity He employs titles in no haphazard manner, but always in regard to the context in which they are used. For instance, although several times using the combination 'God and Father," He speaks of God (per se) and of the Father, individually, saying, 'He (God) will judge the world in righteousness . . .' (Acts 17.31) and again 'For the Father judgeth no man . . .' (John 5.22). There are, of course, many instances in which divine Persons are separately distinguished by a particular title, so that we may learn also to designate Them intelligently. Similarly we read, 'And the Word was with God and the Word was God.' (John 1.1). In regard of our subject it is to be noted that the title almost invariably employed is 'Christ' in relation to His headship, this having the dual character of Messiah and also of the Anointed Man, but the latter designation applying here because His headship is as Man.
It is important to distinguish between the supreme truth of lordship, and headship. Natural man prefers to have a code of rules and regulations to govern his conduct, although lordship is much more than this, involving subjection to the Lord Jesus as the principle of Christian life. On the other hand, headship requires a certain sensitivity requiring spiritual refinement, a close relationship chiefly on the line of suggesting conduct that is seemly, dignified and in keeping with the One Who is head: in a word. Spiritually minded, which is very difficult to define, but which Paul tells us is life and peace (Rom. 8.6). The headship of Christ has several aspects as we shall see; David even says of his Antitype. 'Thou hast made me the head of the heathen.' (Ps 18.43).
'The head of every man is Christ.' (1 Cor. 11.3): every man, not only the Christian but the whole of mankind. And not only of the human race but also of the whole of creation, for which we go back to the beginning of all things. We read 'And God said. Let Us make man in our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea. and over the fowl of the air. and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing upon the earth." (Gen. 1.26). There is no question that Adam is the type of Christ : indeed he is the only one specifically designated, 'who is the figure of Him that was to come." (Rom. 5.14). This is made clear in Psalm 8 (vv. 3-9). referring back to Genesis 1, the psalm being quoted also in Heb. 2.6-8. A most interesting psalm, referring to creation, 'the work of Thy fingers (the detail). What is man (Enosh— frail, mortal), the son of man (Adam)' and then the change to Christ, 'Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels, crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.' (vv. 3-6). Again we read. 'By Him (Christ) were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers : all things were created by Him and for Him," (Col. 1.16). and again (Ch. 2. 10) 'And ye are complete in Him, Who is the head of all principality and power.' The glories of Christ, both personal and in headship arc beyond description.
Perhaps the greatest feature in the headship of Christ is in relation to the church. Paul, writing of the mighty power of God in resurrection says, 'Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come : And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be (he head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.' (Eph. 1.20-23). The greatness of our apprehension of the church is enhanced by its relation to its head: O she is the fulness of Him. the suggestion of completion, carrying with it the great truth of union, the head needing the idea of the body, and she the Head.
This truth of the oneness of the Head in glory and the church. His body here on earth is implicit throughout the Scriptures. We read, for instance. "But speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things. Who is the head, even Christ: from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth. according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.' (Eph. 4.15-17). This shows that this truth is not just doctrine to be held in the mind but is to find practical expression on the part of the members of the body. The church is a divine conception and is the gift of the Father to Christ as His bride, no doubt seen in figure in the seeking of a bride (Rebekah) for Isaac and the desert journey under the hand of Abraham's servant (typical of the Holy Spirit), kindred to Abraham, even as the body of Christ is 'bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh.' (Gen. 24).
This great truth of the union of Christ and the church is beautifully developed by Paul (Eph. 5. 23-32). Please read the section: he is speaking of the relation of husband and wife, wholesome instruction, and yet his real point is (v. 32), 'This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.' Natural marriage is 'until death do us part;' the union of Christ and the church is eternal, inseparable and never to be broken. There would not appear to be the idea of sin attaching to the church, as to which there are several scriptures which will bear examination. In the type in Genesis, the deep sleep of Adam is figurative of the death of Christ, of course before sin had come in or need of atonement. Similarly, we may thus view the parables (Matt. 13.44-46), 'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man. seeking goodly pearls: Who. when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.'
These parables ought to be understood in the light of Eph. 5. 25-27. 'Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it . . .' The treasure is the church, the field the world and the selling of all that He had the tremendous price paid in the giving of Himself. The finding would suggest to us the diligence of the One Who left the heights of glory for this world in which the object of His supreme love was to be formed after Himself. To this end He was (and is) engaged in the 'sanctifying and cleansing with the washing of water by the word in order to remove all traces of defilement contracted in the journey in this scene, that He might present it to Himself not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.' The pearl of great price is not (as the hymn writer suggests) Christ, but His church. Note, it is by water, although we read (Acts 20.28), the exhortation to 'feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.' (the better rendering of J.N.D.. 'with the blood of His own' (Son. Christ). Purchase is in mind, rather than a sacrifice for sin, throughout the section.
Finally, in Colossians (1, 15-22) the glories of Christ are detailed as Creator and Sustainer of 'all things,' and (v. 18) 'He (emphasized in Gr.) is the head of the body.' In the verse following our A.V. is misleading, 'For it pleased the Father (in italics to show it as an insertion, not in the Gr.) that in Him should all fulness dwell.' This would imply that the fulness is conferred upon Him by the Father, whereas a better translation (J.N.D.) makes clear, 'For in Him all the fulness (of the Godhead, implied) was pleased to dwell.' The insertion of the Name of the Father is more regrettable as v. 20 is also affected. 'And by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; (the Father) (A.V.). The reconciliation is thus not to the Father. Whose Name does not originally appear, but to that same 'fulness.' This, of course is not in any way to disparage the excellency in general of the A.V.'s translation. We see then throughout that the glorified Head of the church directs, controls, encourages, sustains, co-ordinates and channels the energy and finally brings to a successful conclusion all that the body is designed to accomplish.
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS (17)
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen.
'WHEN THIS PASSING WORLD IS DONE'
ROBERT MURRAY McCHEYNE (1813—1843)
"There has been one among us who e'er he had reached the age at which a priest in Israel would have been entering on his course, dwelt at the Mercy-seat as if it were his home—preached the certainties of eternal life with an undoubting mind—and spent his nights and days in ceaseless breathings after holiness, and the salvation of sinners. Hundreds of souls were his reward from the Lord, ere he left us; and in him have we been taught how much one man may do who will only press further into the presence of his God, and handle more skilfully the unsearchable riches of Christ, and speak more boldly for his God." This tribute to Robert Murray McCheyne appears in his memoir and comes frorr the pen of his intimate friend and biographer, Dr. Andrew Bonar. "Read McCheyne's memoir" urged C. H. Spurgeon, "read the whole of it: I can not do you a better service than by recommending you to read it ... It is the story of the life of a man who walked with God." Dr. F. W. Boreham would also encourage us to do so for he states that, "to read the Memoir of Robert Murray McCheyne is to share the heavenly glow of his radiant and beautiful soul."
Robert Murray McCheyne was born in Edinburgh on May 21st, 1813. There he spent his early years—at home, at high school and at university, and from an early age, displayed many distinguishing abilities — an athlete notwithstanding certain physical frailties—a scholar of outstanding merit in natural history and geology,—a linguist, proficient in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin, —a musician, skilled in several instruments and possessed of a rich and pleasing singing voice,—an artist with an aptitude and ability to quickly sketch whatever captured his gaze,—and a poet, whose inspirations found place in many hearts and some of which will never die.
The year 1831 was a time of spiritual crisis in Robert's life. The circumstances surround the unexpected death of his brother David who was eight years his senior. Robert was then 18 years of age. In David's (death, he sustained a tremendous loss for the brothers were deeply devoted to each other. In writing to a friend five years later he says, "This dear friend and brother died; and though his death made a greater impression upon me than ever his life had done, still I found the misery of being friendless. I do not mean that I had no relatives and worldly friends, for I had many: but I had no friend who cared for my soul. I had none to direct me to the Saviour . . ." Was this bereavement the time of his spiritual awakening or the time of his salvation? We do not know, but throughout life Robert ever kept that day of David's death as sacred. On each anniversary, 8th July, reference is made to it in his journal, and in 1842, the closing year of his life he writes, "This day 11 years ago I lost my loved and loving brother and began to seek a Brother who cannot die."
In the winter of the same year, 1831, he commenced his studies for the ministry in Edinburgh under Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh. Even then he continued for a time to indulge in worldly pursuits but with growing alarm. What are earth's broken cisterns compared with the fountain of living waters!? He peruses Henry Martyn's Memoirs. "Would I could imitate him, giving up father, mother, country, house, health, life, all—for Christ. And yet, what hinders? Lord, purify me and give me strength to dedicate myself, my all to Thee!" McCheyne now turns his back upon the world, but only to find that there is a world of pollution within himself and how abhorrent that cesspool of corruption! He seeks the Divine presence; "I come to Christ, not although I am a sinner, but just because I am a sinner, even the chief." "Truly there was nothing in me that should have induced Him to choose me. I was but as other brands, upon whom the fire is already kindled and shall burn for evermore!" He reads the life of David Brainerd, of that youth possessed of an inward loathing of and struggle against sin and McCheyne too longs for holiness. He breathes out his heart to God, "Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made." Thus he sets his sails at 19 years of age and God accepted and acknowledged that resolve. In later years, he is to testify that, "It is not talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus." "Unholiness lies at the root of our little success." Possessed of a desire for foreign missionary work, he conferred with his tutor Dr. Chalmers who advised him to seek missionary experience among the slums of Edinburgh. He adopted this suggestion and there saw something of human need. He finished college and after a short period as assistant at Larbert and Dunipace he was called at the early age of 23 to St. Peter's in Dundee. In the year 1836, he embarked on that brief but exceedingly fruitful and never-to-be-forgotten ministry. There he lived and laboured for God as a man who knew that his time would be short—only six years had been divinely allotted to him.
In the middle of that ministry, health reasons called for a break and in 1839, McCheyne set out along with a small group of other godly ministers from Scotland on the Commission to Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe. It was all part of God's plan and God greatly blessed that work. Many Jews were converted as the result of that mission, including such noteworthies as Dr. Adolph Saphir and Dr. Alfred Edersheim. What of the ministry at St. Peter's in Dundee? The first three years prior to his Palestine tour were years of ploughing and sowing. The last three years prior to his death were years of abundant reaping.
What was the secret? Boreham says, "It was simply this; he walked with God." "It was in rapt communion with the unseen that he became infected with his Master's insatiable hunger for the souls of men. He wept over Dundee as Jesus wept over Jerusalem." He walked with God—a living epistle known and read of all men. His very presence among the people had effect. Mrs. Andrew Bonar speaks of it. "It was neither his matter nor his manner that struck me; it was the impression of his likeness to Christ—a picture so lovely that I felt I would have given all the world to be as he was!" "Before he so much as opened his lips, there was something about him that sorely affected me" testifies one of his parishioners. He walked with God. He talked with God. When he prayed, he seemed to be standing in the immediate presence of the Most High, looking into the very eyes of God and talking with Him face to face. He felt that he must first see the face of God before he could undertake any duty. When he ministered, it was with awful reverence and endeavouring always to preach the mind of the Spirit. In complete dependence upon God and yet in faith, he poured out his heart to his own people. As a true pastor and shepherd he felt he must give account for each one He had come to a hardened and godless city given to idolatry and drunkenness, to a large parish of approximately 4,000 sou s, many of whom had never crossed the threshold of any sanctuary. But he laboured in faith. "Perhaps the Lord will have this wilderness of chimney-tops to be green and beautiful as the garden of the Lord, a field which the Lord hath blessed." God was pleased to bless. The windows of heaven were opened— first the dew—then the shower—then the downpour until the arid wilderness was in full flood. It was truly a visitation of the Spirit of God. And when at the early age of 29 years and after a brief illness he left them in the early hours of Saturday, 25th March, 1843. a voice of weeping was heard in almost every household; strong men were bowed in grief; the city was steeped in mourning —a veritable testimony to his exhortation of others, "Live so as to be missed."
His body was laid to rest near the south-west corner of the church and within a few yards of the pulpit from which he had so faithfully proclaimed the words of life. A large monument marks the hallowed spot. The Church of St. Peter's is still there, the pulpit, the vestry and his portrait along with his well-marked bible. Many of his sermons and letters have been preserved together with a valuable collection of his own poems and hymns. Two of these ("I once was a stranger to grace and to God" and "When this passing world is done") are still sung by God's people and still make their appeal to the heart.
'When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not 'till then—how much I owe.'
This hymn of nine verses in all and entitled, "I am debtor" was written during his first year of ministry at Dundee. Robert Murray McCheyne was convinced that this world was passing and that his time would be short. He loved much; he felt he owed much. He lived for another world.
In secret with Himself,
I share most blessed things,
A fellowship so sweetly known.
My heart within me sings.
He tells me of His love.
And I of mine, though weak.
In His, so dearly proved, so strong,
I rest, nought else to seek.
Communion, even here.
Where all around is strife.
Nor time, nor distance e'er can bound.
This is eternal life.
Jesus, my Lord. Thy love.
In many hearts doth shine.
Widely dispersed its warmth and yet.
Wholly, uniquely mine.
—by Edward Robinson, Exmouth.
The good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.—John 10.11.
To be anxious for souls and yet not impatient; to be patient and yet not indifferent; to bear the infirmities of the weak without fostering them; to testify against sin and unfaithfulness and the low standards of spiritual life and yet keep up the stream of love, free and full and open; to have the mind of a faithful shepherd, a hopeful physician, a tender nurse, and a skilled teacher—requires the continual renewal of God's grace.
I go to prepare a place for you. —John 14.2
The Greeks had a word for it: "Utopia,'' which means "no place.'' They were right. There is no place on earth where sin has not left its mark. There is always something to mar earth's joys: but, blessed be His Name, there is a place reserved for ths redeemed, where there are "pleasures for evermore." In this p'a~e of timeless day, no sin nor death can ever come. There His redeemed ones shall be forever with and like Him. There alone the realization will far outshine the anticipation. — Elliot Van Ryn.
Eternal ages shall declare the riches of Thy grace,
To those who, with Thy Son, shall share a son's eternal place
They cried to God in the battle, and He was intreated of them; because they put their trust in Him. —1 Chronicles 5.20.
If we are to gain the victory in the battle, it must be fought on the ground of faith. The Israelites had strength, skill and courage, but their victory was not because of these. It was because their trust was in God. Let us trust God today to do for us in the battle what we cannot do for ourselves. —J. Boyd Nicholson!.
On God's might relying till the victory's won, Satan's host defying, gird our armour on! For the cause that's holy, for the right that's grand, For God's warfare solely, join we heart and hand!
The Lord's supper. —1 Corinthians 11.20.
What simplicity! What singular beauty and holiness there is about this sacred institution! What adaptability to every culture and country! What clarity of instruction regarding it in Holy Scripture! Yet in spite of all this, there is the danger of diversion from its Center and Object, the Lord Himself. There is the danger of diluting its holy significance: the remembrance of the Lord Jesus, proclaiming His death. May we not miss the Person, the purpose nor the privilege of this lordly feast. — J. Boyd Nicholson.