John had another vision of an angel. This mighty angel from heaven was enrobed with a cloud and he stood astride upon the earth, having one foot on the sea and the other on dry land.
Again, the problem of identification arises. G. H. Lang argues that this angel, as he does concerning the angel-pnest (ch. 8), is not Christ but here he is Michael the archangel, who is, of course, always associated with Israel and not the Church (Dan. 12.1, Jude 9). "Who is this angel?" asks A. C. Gaebelein, who then replies "It is Christ Himself. We saw our Lord in angel's form before the opening of the seventh seal and then he appeared in priestly dignity. Here before the sounding of the seventh trumpet he appears again in the same form, but He is called a mighty angel and we behold Him in royal dignity."
Among other writers who also express the view that this angel is Christ, Philip Mauro comments, "The mighty Angel is a symbolical representation of Christ Himself. For everything that is said to characterize this Angel pertains to Deity." As we shall look further into these verses, we shall discover that this is apparently correct. Before doing so, the prophetic location of this vision is worth noting.
Prophetically, the activity of the Angel-Priest (ch. 8) is during the tribulation when the wrath of God will be poured out upon Israel and the nations, and the setting is the heavenly temple. However, when the Angel-Redeemer (ch. 10) emerges, as Walter Scott points out, "the half-week of sorrow (i.e. three and a half years) is nearly spent, but its last hours reval the world in mad and open rebellion against God and His saints, on whom the Beast and the Antichrist wreak their fury." This vision unveils "a Mighty Angel," Who is greater and stronger than the gruesome Beast in Rome and the fearful Antichrist in Jerusalem at that time.
In this vision, John said, "I saw another mighty (or, strong, RV) angel . . ." On a previous occasion, he said.
"I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who' is worthy to open the book . . .?" (ch. 5.2). Although both angels are said to be "strong," they are not synonymous. The earlier angel is a created being, endued with exceptional strength, but this Angel is an uncreated Being Whose great strength is not derived from an outside source but it is underived, for He is the Source of all strength and power which He will ultimately display. Of this Mighty Angel, John saw that He is "come down from heaven" which in itself is a supernatural act. Just as "no man hath ascended up to heaven" (John 3.13), so no man has descended from heaven, which is a logical deduction to make. Therefore, the act of coming down from heaven is not of man but of God. For His first advent, Christ "came down from heaven" (John 3.13, and 6.33, etc.), and likewise for His second advent He will "come down from heaven," as stated here, but the scriptures show that He will come down first to the air (1 Thess. 4.16f) and seven years later He will come down to the earth. There will be one coming but two phases to the coming, and the second is here in view. The preposition "from," or 'out of (lit.), preceding the word "heaven" signifies 'movement from within', and so the point of His departure will be not the atmospheric or sidereal heavens which would be from without, but the third heaven, even "heaven itself, . . . the presence of God" (Heb. 9.24), which is his present abode.
Looking at the Angel's raiment, John said He is "clothed with a cloud." Opinions differ whether the cloud is natural or supernatural, whether it is of mist or the shekinah cloud which was upon the tabernacle and later the temple. Knowing something of John's deep understanding of the Old Testament scriptures, the shekinah cloud is undoubtedly the Angel's clothing. For the nature of the cloud, we may recall that "a bright cloud overshadowed" the Lord Jesus and three of His disciples at His transfiguation (Matt. 17.5), and the word "bright" (photeinos, Gr.) is translated "full of light" elsewhere (Matt. 6.22). Whilst a cloud obscures the sun, this shekinah cloud-garment would have appeared 'bright,' being 'full of light' to an onlooker like John. Of course, the shekinah cloud is a symbol of the Divine Presence, which is in keeping with the Person of this Angel.
Furthermore, "a (or, the, RV) rainbow was upon His head." The definite article, as in the Revised Version, makes the rainbow specific, and so it must be the same "rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald" (Rev. 4.3), as seen by the seer earlier. Also, Ezekiel saw in a vision "the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in a day of rain" encircling the throne occupied by One Who had the appearance of a Man, Who was, undoubtedly, the pre-incarnate Christ in human form (Ezek. 1.26-28). Unlike a natural rainbow and that seen by Ezekiel, this rainbow was of one colour. Therefore, the emerald coloured rainbow, which had encircled the throne earlier, is now a halo upon the Angel's head.
Here, in Revelation, is the last mention in the scriptures of the word "rainbow." For its first mention, we turn to Genesis 9.13 where the Lord tells Noah that He will set His "bow in the cloud" as a sign of His perpetual covenant with the post-diluvial world. Remarkably, in both the first and last occurrences of the word, the rainbow is associated with a cloud. In Genesis, it is a rain-cloud, and the rainbow was a God-given assurance to Noah and his posterity that the newly purged world would not again be destroyed by the waters of judgment. In Revelation, it is the glory-cloud with which the mighty Angel was clothed, and the rainbow formed a halo around His head. With the clouds of divine wrath about to pass and the millennial day approaching, the rainbow-halo may be a sign to a future remnant of godly Jews that the seven year storm of judgment has passed for ever and the mighty Angel will make a new covenant with them as they enter the new world.
"And His face," said John, referring to the Angel, "was as it were the sun," which reminds us that "the countenance" of the Son of Man "was as the sun shineth in its strength" (1.16), which John beheld earlier. As on that occasion, a simile of the oriental noon-day sun is used here to describe the brilliance of the glory with which the face of this Mighty Angel was radiant. When the Lord Jesus was transfigured, "His face did shine as the sun" (Matt. 17.2), which long lingered in John's mind, because decades later he said "we beheld His glory" (John 1.14, cp. Luke 9.32). The radiance of the Angel's face is explained by the fact that the glory, which was formerly upon the mercv seat and between the cherubim, is now embodied in Christ, and so the divine glory is no longer an emblem but a Person. In consequence, He is the effulgence of the glory, which emanates not only from His face but His whole Being.
Continuing, "and His feet as pillars of fire," said John. Of the Son of Man, John had observed earlier that "His feet (were) like unto fine brass" (1.15), which is cited from Daniel (10.6). Such a statement is symbolical of Christ coming again in judgment to the earth, as expressed in II Thessalonians 1.7f, "... the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven ... in flaming fire taking vengeance . . . ," which will be upon apostate Israel and Christ-rejecting Gentiles.
The mighty Angel "set His right foot upon the sea, and His left foot on the earth," as John saw Him. He stood astride the globe! What a symbolical picture of world dominion, at which many men have aimed throughout the centuries and still do! Of course, the right to such global power and position belongs to Christ alone, and not to fallen man. In this vision, Christ was seen by John not as Man but in the guise of a "mighty Angel," because angels rank higher and mightier than men in the order of created beings. In angelic power, He asserts His undisputed claim to world dominion. Initially, God gave to man "dominion over the fish of the sea, . . . and over the cattle, and over all the earth . . ." (Gen. 1.26), but, through sin at his fall, he lost it. Since the Noahic flood, man has had, through fear and dread, dominion over the beasts of the earth and the fish of the sea (Gen. 9.2).
During the days of His flesh; Christ was offered world dominion by Satan but He refused it (Matt. 4.8f). Later, He was offered regal dominion by the people but He recoiled from it (John 6.15). For the millennial age yet to come, the glorified Christ will receive universal dominion from His Father (I Cor. 15.24f), and then the powers of hell will be stultified and mankind pacified
In that coming age of righteousness, the dominion of Christ will not be of short duration like Adam's,; but it will endure "throughout all generations" (Psa. 145.13, Dan; 7.14). During the era-of His worldwide sovereignty, the nations will be for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth will be for His possession. (Psa. 2.8).
STUDIES IN JOHN'S GOSPEL
(Christ, the Interpreter of the Father)
by WM. HOSTE
5—IN A SCENE OF NEED (John 6)
The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is unique, in being the only one—if we except of course the crowning miracle of the resurrection—which is narrated in all the four Gospels. There must be teaching of special importance to be learnt from it. The sister miracle of "the four thousand" is given in Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Probably had our Lord Himself not settled the. matter otherwise (Matt. 16.9,10),. the critics would have asserted in their lofty fashion, the identity of the two miracles. Perhaps they have done so, for modern Sadducees that they are, their forte is knowledge of their own writings rather than of the Holy Scriptures.
The fact that two distinct miracles were performed, so closely similar, may throw light on some of what are termed "the discrepancies of the Gospels." Perhaps we have too readily assumed the identity of incidents, which, though similar are after all distinct. In the miracle before us, the Lord is presented as interpreting the Father in a scene of human need, as the One who "opens His hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing," and who knows and forestalls His people's wants, before they ask Him. In each of the synoptists the occasion is the same. The evil curiosity of Herod had been aroused, by the fame of Jesus. "This is John whom I beheaded;" and, he "desired to see Him." But the Lord withdraws Himself from the inquisitiveness of the proud, and reveals Himself to the humble seeker. "He hath filled the hungry with good things, but the rich He hath sent empty away." The twelve had just returned from their mission. He knew their frame, they were weary and needed rest. "Come ye yourselves apart," He said, "into a desert place and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat bread." Accordingly they took shipping to a desert spot on the northern shore of the lake: but the people passed round the lake on foot, and outwent them. The place belonged to Bethsaida (Luke 9.10), the scene of so many miracles (Matt. 11.21). The city was to witness perhaps, one more appeal to their repentance and faith. Instead then of a place of peace and repose, it was a scene of hustle and confusion which our Lord and His disciples found on landing. The very crowds they had been ministering to, and had been obliged to leave for quietness sake, were there awaiting them. What would be our Lord's attitude to these men? Fallen human nature would have become testy and irritable. Did He reproach them for their selfishness and lack of consideration to Him and His tired disciples? Nay, for in Him we see perfection. "He was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd" (not first because they were physically needy, but without spiritual guidance), "and He began to teach them many things" (Mark 6 34). and then, as Matthew tells us. He "healed their sick" (chap. 16.14).
Next arose the problem of food. Our Lord's question to Philip seems to have been a private one. The Lord had Himself called Philip, perhaps there was a special link between his Lord and him, a peculiar desire on the part of Christ to see him grow in grace.
A natural thought, when we see a crowd, is how will their needs be catered for. When the Lord saw one, He made their needs His own. How shall we cater for them? "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" Philip's difficulty was not so much whence, but how. He names an unheard-of, sum, far beyond the resources of their common bag. But even that would not be sufficient. The penny is the Roman denarius, equivalent to nine pence of our money. Two hundred pence would then be £7 10s, enough to buy to-day about 250 of our two pound loaves. This would mean among 5000 men one loaf to twenty, a meagre supply, even were their loaves like ours! * Our Lord's question to Philip was "to prove him, for He Himself knew, what He would do." The Lord has ways outside our ken. His resources are varied and inexhaustible, while our faith easily drops into a rut and is soon exhausted. Philip's proving, like our own too often, shewed he had been a slow learner in the school of grace. Our Lord had already fed greater multitudes in another wilderness for 40 years, and Philip might have remembered how "He brought water out of the flinty rock, and gave them bread from heaven to eat," as it is written for his and our learning in the Psalms
* While the currency is dated, the principle is not!
The Lord was "proving" Philip's faith. When Israel murmured and demanded meat for their lust, he should have recalled the Lord's answer, which staggered even Moses, "Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days, but even a whole month" (Num. 2.19,20). How could such an unheard of thing be? "Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them to suffice them, or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice them?" Moses could see only two possible ways of feeding with flesh the host of Israel—the slaughter of all their cattle, or a mighty haul of Red Sea fish; but the Lord could see a third and better way. It was to be His provision, not theirs, and He would bring it to their very tents. "The Lord knew what He would do." "Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not." "The people asked and He brought quails." But was this in reality a blessing? No. "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls." A fat body, may hold a lean soul. To the aged who dwell in the house of the Lord it is promised, "They shall be fat and flourishing" (Psa. 92.14).
Jehovah could supply Elijah's needs through the unclean birds of prey, the starving widow in the far-off land of Jezebel, and later in the wilderness, where there were neither ravens nor widows. Once more, "man did eat angels' food," or at least food from an angel's hand. Deserts are favoured spots for the people of God. It is there they really learn His resources. Elims are preceded by Marahs.
How could famine-stricken Samaria hope for enough and to spare, on the morrow? Unbelief could only suggest one way, and that for it an impossibility. "If the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be." The Lord might have done it that way. He promises, in fact, to His people, as we know, that if they bring all the tithes into the storehouse—that is the portion of His poor and of His servants—"to open the windows of heaven and pour them out such a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mai. 3 10). This blessing is not only spiritual but material, as the following verses show. You may save in doctors' bills and dentists' bills, and bills for repairs, what you have given to the Lord. But to go back to Samaria, was the Lord's hand shortened? Was He shut up to one way of supply? Nay, "He Himself knew what He would do." He made His enemies hear "a dreadful sound," and disgorge their rich spoil into the laps of His people. Unbelief did not partake, however, for though it cannot "shut up His tender mercies," it can shut off its own share of them. But "God is faithful."
He knows, He loves, He cares.
Nothing this truth can dim ;
He always does the best for those,
Who leave the choice to Him.
"He Himself knew what He would do." So far the apostle ought to have been assured, for He was the Christ—the Power of God and the Wisdom of God; but they could not have guessed how He would provide, for "His ways past finding out" (Rom. 11.33), and His wisdom is very *variegated (Eph. 3.10).
* "Polupoikilos" — primarily, marked with a great variety of colours, of cloth, or a painting, then manifesting itself in a great variety of forms, as here.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
No one would have supposed that this lad, with his little store, would be the source of supply for all this people. Yet he was the providential provision of the Father. God does use means, but very inadequate, save to the eye of faith. "A small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground," was to nourish the thousands of Israel; the scrapings of a meal barrel; the dregs of a cruse of oil to keep an Elijah alive; three hundred feeble men with trumpets, to deliver His people from a vast host; a little maid to bring Naaman to himself; "the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." And here no baker's storehouse, but five barley cakes; no great haul, but two insignificant fishes, "weak things" indeed, but "mighty through God." The lad may have been an apostle's boy. He must at least have been of the apostolic band, for in all the other Gospels the apostles speak of the food as being their own. "We have five loaves and two small fishes." Whoever He was, he was ready at hand at God's moment, and though the supply was meagre, it was enough and to spare, when brought to Christ. Nothing is too small to yield to Him, or too great to withhold. It may remind us of "the deep poverty of the churches of Macedonia, which, by the grace of God, "abounded to the riches of their liberality," a feeble echo of that wonderful "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." And lest we should think this is something quite outside and beyond our experience, the Spirit of God adds—"God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." For He who multiplied the five barley cakes and fish still lives, and can "multiply your seed sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness" (2 Cor. 8.15; 9.8,10). "Little is much if God be in it." Did ever crumb grow to bigger loaf, or slender store to richer feast? Now the guests are seated on the thick grass to insure their comfort, and in hundreds and fifties, to insure their orderly supply. "All ate and were filled," and "the fishes divided He among them all." None were neglected, none surfeited, none unsatisfied. So is God's provision in nature, and in grace. Air, water, sun to be had for the taking, and "food for the service of man," free too, in response to the most modest labour, but for the fall, and in spite of the fall, a full supply of grace through the atoning blood of Christ, available for a guilty world and for needy saints "My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ." God's care is over all His works, but especially toward "the household of faith," "He careth for you;" "your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things;" therefore, "Take no anxious thought," "Be careful for nothing." "Casting all your care upon Him." Thus the Lord interprets the Father. He provides for the multitude, but He does not forget His own. To each fell a basket of fragments. Surelv not half-chewed, mauled pieces of bread and fish. The Lord would not offer such fragments to His servants, but, as I take it, what remained of the great store, "over and above to them that had eaten," "good measure pressed down and running over." Whatever others may think will do for the Lord's servants, it would not be, His thought to provide them other than with something clean, and fresh, and "worthy of God." Had there been thirteen apostles, no doubt there would have been thirteen basketsful. Like the widow's oil, the fragments would not have stayed, when there was another basket to fill. ;There ought, indeed, to have been a thirteenth basket for the Lord Himself, but He did not lay up in store for His own needs. That, no doubt, it was the privilege of others to do for Him. Thus their individual needs were fully met. Here the word for basket is kophinos, a wicker-basket as always in the account of the miracle But in the account of the feeding of the 4,000, another kind of basket—spuris—woven but of reeds, is mentioned. There were only seven of these, representing perhaps fulness of supply according to their collective need. Some make much of the individual need, some much of the collective, but both have their important place. No doubt the assembly is made up of individuals, and if the whole is to prosper, it must be through the individual members. But there is also a collective need and responsibility. What may meet the individual need, may not be suitable for the collective. There are the twelve baskets, that each may enjoy his individual supply. There are the seven baskets, that no one may say to his brother, "I have no need of thee." We cannot get on alone. We are members of a body, to which every joint supplies its measure.
The feeding of the five thousand evoked a true, though inadequate, acknowledgment to our Lord's Person, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." The remembrance of analogous miracles in the days of Moses and Elisha would enable the multitude, without much spiritual apprehension, to recognise in Him "the prophet" foretold by Moses (Deut. 18.15). According to *Dr. Eder-sheim, this prophecy was not held to be Messianic by the ancient Rabbis, which explains the distinction between "Christ" and "that prophet," drawn by the deputation sent by the Pharisees to John the Baptist (John 1.20,21). This is used by Moslem controversialists to prove that Jesus was not "the prophet"—a role reserved for Mahomet. But whatever they or the Rabbis may say, our Lord was recognised as "the prophet," not only here, but in Matt. 21.11, where the words should be rendered, "This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." Peter too, by the Spirit, applies the Deuteronomy passage directly to the Lord in Acts 3.22.
* "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah."
That He, however, was "the Son," "the Heir," did not enter into their conception of things. That He was "come to seek and to save that which was lost," and that this entailed the work of redemption, met no need of theirs. They "would have taken Him by force and made Him a King," but not on His terms—that of repentance, which was the very condition of the Kingdom. Our Lord's refusal to be made a king after man's heart, is no proof He did not come to be their King after God's heart. In His public entry into Jerusalem He had this definite object in view. It was understood in this sense by the multitude of His disciples (quite a distinct class from "the multitude" here), and was so interpreted by the Holv Spirit. "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 'Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee' " (Zech. 9.9). When the Old Testament prophets speak of "the Kingdom," they refer to the literal Davidic kingdom, based on moral and spiritual sanctions (e.g., "A King shall reign in righteousness" Isa. 32.1). No refinements of interpretation can explain this away. It is really a serious anachronism to read back into the Jewish prophets the present Gospel dispensation, an interval not then revealed. Israel, as a nation, rejected their Kine, and are for the present rejected. The Gospel is now proclaimed without distinction to Jew and Gentile, and the old wall of partition is broken down in Christ. To interpret such words as "Behold thy King cometh unto thee," as the offer of the Gospel to Israel, as we have it to-day, is to ignore all dispensational truth and introduce serious confusion.
But though the people recognised His miraculous powers for their temporal benefit, and desired to enjoy them further, they had yet a far deeper lesson to learn.
The Lord would interpret the Father, not only as the Supplier of man's material food, but of the Heavenly Bread, the Bread of Life. That would perish with the eating—a temporary provision for a temporal need : this would endure "unto everlasting life," increasing as fed upon. That must be earned with the sweat of the brow, this must be believed for. The word for "believe" is in the present— "become a believer." But the Lord was in the presence of unbelief, and unbelief has but a short memory, asks for signs and misapplies the Word of the Lord. It was Jehovah, not Moses, who gave the manna to Israel (Neh. 9.15). But at best, that was only the figure of Him who is "the true Bread," given by the Father. The bread of earth comes up from the earth, the bread of God (His bread before becom-in the Bread of life for man), came down from heaven. That sustains life, this gives life unto the world.
Though they asked for the bread, they knew not it was Jesus Himself, nor would they feed on Him, when He gave them to know it. But those given to Christ by the Father, and taught of Him, do come and feed upon the Living Bread with faith and appetite.
The manna could not avert death, but whoso eats this Bread shall never die, but live for ever. But once more, the Heavenly Bread transcends the earthly, for not only does it give life, but is itself the "Living Bread."
That Bread was His flesh, which He would give for the life of the world. The change of the figure from bread to, "flesh and blood" is very important. There can be no partaking of Christ through incarnation, but only through the death of the Cross, on the ground of accomplished redemption. Those who apply this eating and drinking to partaking of the Lord's supper, under whatever name they term it, fall very far from the truth. The necessity to "eat the flesh and drink the blood" of Christ, as spoken of here, was, and is peremptory and absolute. Achieving that, means eternal life, failing that, eternal death. Who would dare to affirm that everyone partaking of the Lord's supper has eternal life, or omitting to partake is doomed to perish. Moreover, the Lord's supper was not instituted till long after our Lord spoke these words, and yet those addressed were held responsible then and there, to eat His flesh and drink His blood. It is true the Lord had not died, but the types and prophecies were eloquent witnesses to the death of Messiah, the Jews themselves being witnesses. This eating and drinking, is the appropriation of His Person and work.
It is a spiritual, not a literal or so-called "sacramental" partaking. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." This truth was too hard a saying for many a professed disciple. How could a slain Christ fulfil their hopes of earthly glory? What would they then, were they to see the Son of Man ascend and disappear where He was before, His whole mission to Israel an apparent failure. From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. "Will ye also go away?" asked the Lord of the apostles. "Lord, to whom shall we go?" replied Peter, "Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Had he never learnt that lesson before, he had learnt it the previous night when, sinking beneath the waves of the Sea of Galilee, he had felt the strong right hand of Christ grasp and save him. He had tasted that the Lord was gracious. He would learn to feed upon Him still, and in doing so to be conformed daily to His image.
Man earthy of the earth, an-hungered, feeds
On earth's dark poison tree,
Wild gourds and deadly roots and bitter weeds,
And as his food is he.
And hungry souls there are, that find and eat
God's manna day by day,
And glad they are, their life is fresh and sweet,
For as their food are they.
by J. G. GOOD
The authorship of Psalm 119 has been attributed by some to Ezra, the primary reason being, his affection and reverence for the Word of God (Ezra 6.6). The reader of this Psalm is introduced to a veritable storehouse of spiritual experience. We are impressed by the personal involvement of the writer, he is keenly aware of his privileges and resulting responsibilities, in this respect the supreme place of the Word to guide and direct is deliberate, coupled with a Divine design aimed at the blessing of the writer and reader.
It is the personal commitment that this paper would emphasise. Seven times over in this Psalm we find the writer stating his personal experience and progress in the ways of God, in the words, 'I AM,' this repetition gives us an insight into the innermost thoughts and desires of the speaker, providing sound spiritual advice for our day.
Pilgrim Character (verse 19), 'I AM a stranger in the earth hide not Thy commandments from me.'
Strangers away from home, pilgrims going home. "They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth' (Heb. 11.13). Two features marked Abraham as a pilgrim, a tent and altar, a pilgrim for God and a worshipper of God. How easy to lose the pilgrim character, to be ensnared in the mesh of worldliness and materialism. There is a future generation mentioned in the book of Revelation, they are referred to as 'earth dwellers' refusing to acknowledge the claims of God over the earth. (Rev. 14.6). The Christian desires a 'better country that is an heavenly' (Heb. 11.16). How necessary are the commandments of God to a stranger and sojourner during our pilgrimage here, in a waste howling wilderness we are dependent upon heavenly communications for our guidance. 'Thy commandments,' Divine instruction, for the Dependent individual, 'from me.'
Principled Company (verse 63), 'I AM a companion of all them that fear Thee and of them that keep Thy precepts.'
There is nothing more calculated to destroy our testimony for God, than the choice of wrong companions. Fear and obedience are co-related, again we see this demonstrated in the life of Abraham (Gen. 22.1). Obedience to the revealed Word of God is of paramount importance, a reverential fear brings this condition about. This should be the criteria regarding our choice of companions, do they fear and obey God? 'How can two walk together except they be agreed' (Amos 3.3). Compromise should not be tolerated when it comes to the question of the authority of the Word of God. We need discretion in these matters, it is not to our credit to be large hearted at the expense of the commandments of God.
Progressive Chastisement (verse 83), 'I AM become like a bottle in the smoke, yet do I not forget Thy statutes.'
His condition is figurative of the skin bottle dried and blackened in the smoke as it hung suspended from the roof. How true this is of the Christian in the furnace of affliction, shrouded and shrivelled in the ever increasing smoke of present trial. The picture here is one of progression (verse 81), 'soul fainteth,' (verse 82), 'mine eyes fail,' (verse 84), 'how many are the days of Thy servant.' How good to see the attitude in which this state was endured, 'yet I do not forget Thy statutes.' The word statute occurs twenty-two times in this Psalm, it comes from a root which means, to hew, to cut in, engrave, inscribe, and so carries the thought of that which is ordained, decreed, prescribed and enacted. (W. Graham Scroggie) Is the Word of God leaving its mark upon us?
Potent Claim (verse 94), 'I AM Thine save me for I have, sought Thy precepts.'
What a claim we have on our Lord Jesus Christ, purchased by His precious blood, delivered from the penalty and guilt of sin, but still very conscious of the evil root principle within, this is why we re-iterate the words 'I am Thine, SAVE me.' The daily salvation of the believer depends upon the continuity of our coming unto our great High Priest. 'Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him' (Heb. 7.25). The coming mentioned in this verse is not the initial coming for salvation, but as the word infers it is a coming constantly as believers to draw succour and support from the infinite resources of the High Priest functioning for us now in the presence of God. Let us come with boldness and claim His power to meet our present plight, the resources are far greater than our extremities!
Present Conflict (verse 107), 'I AM afflicted very much, quicken me O Lord according unto Thy word.'
The subject of affliction is a feature of the book of Psalms, and especially of Psalm 119, in which it is mentioned four times, verse 67, 'Before I was afflicted I went astray' here Discipline is in view (verse 71), 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted,' the thought here is that of Design (verse 75), 'Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me,' the source is Divine, the fourth mention is in verse 107, 'I am afflicted very much,' could we think of this as being Destructive, in a good sense, bringing with it the need for reviving. Without the intuition that a Divine Hand was at work many a child of God would be driven to insanity. The aim of this affliction is to bring us nearer to our God.
'Bless I then the Hand that smiteth,
Gently, and to heal delighteth,
Tis' against my sins He fighteth,
Peace, peace is mine.'
Personal Confession (verse 125), 'I AM Thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies.'
What a privilege to be engaged in His service (Acts 27.23). 'If any man serve Me, let him follow Me' (John 12.26). There has been a change of masters (Rom. 6.16-20). The two basic requirements of a servant are understanding and knowledge, understanding is the key to knowledge. There can be no substitute for the apprenticeship in the school of grace. Moses needed the backside of the desert experience and Paul the Arabian interlude to be equipped and taught of God. The prime reason for this request by the writer in this verse is given in the following verse 'They have made void Thy law.' The way to expose error is to present truth. There should be a continual repetition of 'The things most surely believed among us' (Luke 1.1). The servant's brief 'Thy testimonies,' this excludes the propagation of man made doctrines.
Precious Condition (verse 141), 'I AM small and despised yet do not forget Thy precepts.'
O that there were more 'small' people in our assemblies today.
'He that is down, need fear no fall,
He that is low no pride,
He that is humble ever shall,
Have God to be his guide.
'Bind on humility' (1 Pet. 5.5). Pride is a pernicious disease in a Christian, and is the growing medium for other well known associated evils. The humiliation of the Saviour described for us in Philippians 2, deflated Paul, 'I counted loss for Christ,' (Ch. 3.7). It is impossible to have right views of the Cross and at the same time worship self. The estimation of self is on a declining scale when we remain in the shadow of the Cross. We may be small and despised, but here as elsewhere in this Psalm the support and shelter of the believer is the immutable Word of God!
by NELSON McDONALD (Scotland)
(5) JOHN'S GOSPEL.
The Ministry of the Trinity.
The Ministry of the Temple.
The Ministry of the Teacher.
The Ministry of the Tomb.
The Ministry of the Table.
The Ministry of the Throne.
The Ministry of the Towel.
The Ministry of the Tranquility.
The Ministry of the Truth.
The Ministry of the Tree.
The Ministry of the Triumphant.
The Ministry of the Treasurer.
The Lord Jesus In John's Gospel
The Supreme One.
The Satisfying One.
The Suffering One.
The Searching One.
The Sent One.
The Sealed One.
The Shining One.
The Sinless One.
The Sightgiving One.
The Shepherding One.
The Sympathising One.
The Saving One.
The Serving One.
The Sooncoming One.
The Selecting One.
The Spiritgiving One.
The Sanctifying One.
The Smitten One.
The Silent One.
The Scarred One.
The Sovereign One.
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(37) THE HOLY SPIRIT IN 2 CORINTHIANS
In this Epistle Paul answered his detractors who questioned his apostleship and criticised his ministry and his motives. It is one of the most personal of Paul's Epistles. Bishop Handley Moule says, "Reading this epistle we feel as if we can see his face, touch his hand, catch the accent of his voice and detect the tears in his tired eyes."
Paul opened his heart to his readers and revealed the price he had paid, the sufferings he endured, and the comfort he experienced from the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation (1.22). Paul used four precious words to underline God's attitude toward us:—establish, anoint, seal, earnest.
(1) Established into Christ (RV). God has placed us on the Rock (Psa. 40.2; 1 Cor. 3.11). We are being daily confirmed in our union with Christ. This is a continuing process following our conversion. Confirmed in the faith (Col. 2.7) and in grace (Heb. 13.9). Being settled and assured in Christ we should be faithful. (2) Anointed. By the Holy Spirit God has consecrated us to His service and makes us like Christ (Luke 4.18,19; 1 John 2.20,27).
The Holy Spirit should direct our service and He enables us to obey the will of God (Acts 16.6,7,10). (3) God Seals What He Anoints (Eph. 1.13; 4.20). It is a mark of Divine ownership. The Holy Spirit marks those in whom He dwells as belonging to God. It brings certainty and signifies security (Dan. 6.17; Matt. 27.66). (4) Earnest The "deposit or pledge" is the foretaste of our interest in the heavenly inheritance (Rom. 8.23; Eph. 1.14). It is a down payment given in advance. The future is therefore certain. It is the pledge of resurrection life in all its glory (5.5). The Holy Spirit indwelling ratifies the promise of God to fulfil every good thing. May we be faithful to God.
Recommendation (3.3. Epistles of Christ written with the Spirit (v. 8). The contrast is drawn between the writing of the Law on the Tables of stone, and the "writing of the Gospel" on the hearts of men. The validity of Paul's ministry is judged by the quality of his work. "You are our letter of recommendation." He appeals to their changed lives. They were a letter from Christ and written by the Spirit. The Spirit had done the work, it was not done by Paul (v. 4-6). Dr. Graham Scroggie writes : "The crown of literature is soul-literature (3.3). Think of the AUTHOR of it—God; the MATERIAL—human hearts; the INSTRUMENTS— Christians; the MANNER OF WRITING—by the Spirit; the THING WRITTEN—the mind of Christ; the PUBLICATION of it—consistent Christian living; the READERS —-all men."
Are we capable of being understood as representing and reproducing Christ?
Transformation (3.18). The ministry of the Holy Spirit brings life (v.6), gives liberty (v.17), and produces likeness to Christ (v. 18). The testimony about Christ is illustrated by radiant reflections, we become mirrors. We unveil Christ most effectively by reproducing his glory in Christlike lives. This is very practical.
(a) Contemplation. "We mirror the glory of the Lord" (Weymouth). Paul saw a vivid contrast here between Moses (v. 13) who veiled his face, and the Christian who gazes at the Lord with unveiled face and is being changed (4.4). Beholding, we catch the light and reflect the glory of the Lord. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face." Gaze long and often.
(b) Reflection. A mirror can reflect only what it sees and what it receives. Some see the mirror as Christ and God's Word. We behold in silent contmplation. Others in the context contrast the permanent glory reflected in the saint with the transient glory seen in the face of Moses.
(c) Continuation "from one degree of glory to another" (RSV). It will be a progressive daily transformation.
(d) Transformation. Becoming more and more like the Lord Himself (Acts 4.13). "It all comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (RSV). Emphasizing the personality and deity of the Spirit This is a lifelong, glorious experience and will be perfected one day (Phil. 3.21).
Commendation (6.6,7). The chapter deals with the character of the minister. An appeal for consistency (v. 1-10) and for consecration (v. 11-7.1). In verses 3-10 there are twenty eight ways specified in which we may commend ourselves as God's servants. Here is a catalogue of what Paul endured in the spread of the Gospel (v.l). He shows that in normal situations the grace of God can be displayed in our lives. In v. 6,7 we see how Paul met and overcame affliction in service.
Endurance is possible by "power from on high" (v. 7). The sterling qualities he exhibited under trials in serving the Lord, are within the reach of every child of God. "Pureness" — singleness of purpose, sincerity of motive. "Knowledge" — insight which comes through communion with God. "Longsuffering"—in relationship to people who may be stubborn. "Kindness"—an attitude towards others which is thoughtful and considerate. "Love"—an unaffected and genuine concern for others. "By the Holy Spirit" enabled to overcome; a message which is true, and the power of God which can convict and convert others. These are the only effective means of daily victory over Satan, sin and self.
Correction (11.4). This does not refer to the Holy Spirit. False teachers sought to change the truth taught to, and held by, the Corinthians. Note the word, "another," used in different senses. "Another Jesus," that is "allos," another of the same kind. "Another spirit" and "another gospel" is "heteros" another of a different kind They listened to false teaching, but questioned that of the Apostle.
They were being seduced by false teachers who presented a defective Christology, and had made a great impression at Corinth. They were dispensers of a different spirit, one of bondage (Gal. 5. 1-4). They tolerated men who by a spurious gospel were undermining the work of God in their souls.
Any doctrine which contradicts the fundamental truths of the Gospel should be firmly withstood (Jude 3; 1 John 4. 1-6). We need today a faith that is exclusively resting in and centred upon the Lord Jesus alone. We should be absolutely separated and devoted to the claims of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 9.6; 1 Pet. 3.15a).
Communion of the Holy Spirit (13.14). What a lovely benediction comes at the end of this severe letter. Truly, "his heart is enlarged" (6.10). His love embraced them all and he desires the richest blessing to be experienced by "all." His detractors, critics, and the unrepentant need the blessing of the Triune God.
The order is experimental, for it is only through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we come to know the love of God and the benefits of redemption brought to us by the Holy Spirit.
Note the full title sets forth the majesty of our Mediator. "Lord"—His essential Deity, "Jesus"—His true humanity, "Christ"—the Messiah who brought us redemption. The love of God, traces the channel to its source, and the participation of the Holy Spirit is the inward result of grace and love, the means by which they become practically known to us. Here is God with us, God for us, and God in us for daily living.
The Holy Spirit is the common possession of all the children of God, uniting all in one. It is upon His gracious work that the individual and corporate spiritual life of believers entirely depends. May we daily enjoy the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Talks to Young Believers
by JOHN RITCHIE
Its Divine Inspiration, Absolute Purity, and Supreme Authority.
The Book that we call the Bible was believed by our fathers to be the Word of God, the Divine Oracles. They accepted its teachings, were warned by its threats, reposed on its promises, and submitted to its supreme authority. Its Gospel brought them salvation, its Truth sanctified them, its Glories severed them from the world, and set their affections on things above. Mere hereditary faith is not enough : second-hand knowledge of things Divine lacks unction; nor does it bear the stress and strain of days of battle. We must each buy the truth, and know it for ourselves. One of the momentous questions of our time is— Is the Book that we call the Bible the Word of God? Is it
a Revelation from God to man? Can we be certain that the Book came from God at the first, that He Himself is its Author, and, if so, has it come down through the ages to us, unaltered and uncorrupted by men? These are momentous questions, affecting the vitals of Christianity and the foundations of our faith. They therefore demand definite and decided answers. Nothing short of certainty will suffice on a subject so fraught with eternal issues ; to a truly exercised soul doubt is intolerable, in the things of God and eternity.
The testimony given concerning the authorship of the Bible is, that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim 3.16). The five English words, ''given by inspiration of God," represent one word in Greek, and that word, Theopneustos, means "God-breathed." Here we have the Origin and the Authorship of the Holy Scriptures. They are the breathings of the Eternal God. He who breathed into Adam's lifeless clay the breath of life, has breathed out the words of Holy Scripture, and these holy writings are therefore God's words —perfect, unchangeable, and eternal. The Spirit of God was the speaker, and He used the tongue of chosen instruments (see 2 Sam. 23.2; Psa. 45.1). Holy men spake from God, moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1.21). (See also Acts 1.16; 4.25; 28.25).
The inspiration of the Scriptures is now denied, as has been said, in "its Existence, its Universality, and its Plenitude," not only by avowed infidels, but by professing Christians, many of them ministers of churches and Professors in universities, who have openly violated their ordination vows in their crusade against the Bible. They assume that God is unknown, and that He is unknowable. Such a God is inconceivable. He is not the God of love who sent His Son, in whom the Father was declared (John 1.18). Some deny the existence of inspiration : they do not believe that the Book came from God at all. If they admit "inspiration," it is in the same sense as they do in the works of Shakespeare and Burns. But this is not what is claimed for "the Oracles of God." With such men, all is chaos and uncertainty. They are Agnostics — they know nothing, profess nothing.
Others allow that parts of the Bible are inspired, but that other parts are the work of men, and consequently open to doubt. To deal with the Bible thus, is like using a purse in which gold and counterfeit sovereigns are mixed, to be used at random, which would make faith impossible, and pave the way to open infidelity The position of this party is untenable, inasmuch as the Bible claims for itself to be one united whole, and "the Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10.35). A third class say that the thoughts of the Bible were given by God to the various writers, but that they were allowed to choose their own words, which, in some oases, are misleading and contradictory of each other.
Others claim that the very words of Scripture are God's words (see 1 Cor. 2.13), and that the entire Book is God-breathed. This latter is Divine Inspiration, and nothing else is. The writers—of whom there were many—were "holy men of God." They did not speak or write from memory, but as they were "taucht by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1.21). Who but God could tell the events of Gen. 1 in the past, or who else could foretell the events of Rev. 22 in the future? Moses wrote the Book of Genesis on the Plains of Moab, and John the Book of Revelation in the Isle of Patmos, both at the dictation of God. Although the instruments were human, the words were given by the Holy Spirit, and absolutely warranted. When this is grasped— that God spake to Moses and Isaiah and John at "sundry times and in divers manners" (Heb. 1.1) what He wanted them to write, that this they did write, and that these writings are "the Holv Scripture—then we shall not be puzzled by sceptical references to the "mistakes of Moses" or the "contradictions of the evangelists."
Fulfilment of Prophecy.
There are many proofs in the world around, in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, that the Book is God's Book. Its prophecies concerning Christ have been fulfilled. He was to be the Woman's Seed (Gen. 3.15; Matt. 1.18; Gal. 4.3), the Virgin's Child (Isa. 7.14, with Luke 1. 27-35), of the line of Abraham (Gen. 22.18, with Matt. 1.1), of the family of David (Jer. 23. 5, 6, with Luke 2.4). His betrayal (Zech. 11.12), His death (Isa. 53), His pierced hands and feet (Psa. 22.16), His tomb (Isa. 53.9), His exaltation (Isa. 52.13), and His coming again (Zech. 14) were all foretold, and are fulfilled, or to be, to the very letter.
The Lord's Acceptance of Scripture
When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, it was "His custom" to read a certain Book (Luke 4.16). He called it "the Scriptures" (John 5.39). He quoted from each of its parts. To Him it was the final appeal, to fulfil it was His mission, to honour its teachings His delight. From this Book He preached to men (Luke 17.26-29), expounded to His disciples (Luke 24.27), and from it He chose His weapons wherewith He defeated the devil (Matt. 4.7). He called the Book, as it was, "the Scriptures," although it was only a copy and a translation of the original writings. He acknowledged it to be "the Word of God" (Mark 7.13). He authenticated the books of the Old Testament; He owned them as they stood, bearing the names of their acknowledged writers, and divided into parts as we now have them (see Luke 24.44). Would the Son of God have sanctioned a Book in which there were "cunningly devised fables"? Would He have designated an ill-assorted mixture of God His Father's commandments and man's traditions, "the Word of God," as He did? Who will dare to charge Him with thus deceiving mankind? The Book that was in current use in His day was only a copy of the original Hebrew Scriptures, handed down through the ages, but this did not hinder Him from accepting and authenticating it as "the Word of God," owning its supreme authority in all things, and claiming that not a "jot" or a "tittle" of it would be unfulfilled.
Pseudo-critics — men who boast of their superior wisdom — who, under the plea of expunging from the Bible parts which they say are contrary to reason, "to win the educated classes to religion"—have played into the hands of Rationalists, and, in the process, have become infidels. The written Word is now receiving the same treatment at the hands of sceptical professors as the living Word received at the hands of the Jewish leaders of His time, who were neither ignorant nor irreligious. Nevertheless, they rejected God's Christ, and "crucified the Lord of Glory." A recent writer of the Critic school says — "Both Christ and the apostles or writers of the New Testament held the current
Jewish notions respecting the Divine authority and revelation of the Old Testament," which simply means, the Lord believed the Bible as it then was, because He knew no better, and this we are told because He had "emptied Himself" (Phil 2.7, R.V.), and knew no more than His contemporaries, and less than the "scholars" who are now engaged in hacking the Bible to pieces. This is blasphemy against the Son of God. To speak of Him to Whom God gave not the Spirit "by measure," Who ever spake "the Words of God" (John 2.34), Who said, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself" (John 14.10), Whose words will stand, though "heaven and earth shall pass away" (Luke 21.33), as being unable to discern the integrity of the Scriptures, is to reject the Christ of God who avowed His faith in the Divine inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures, and so taught His disciples before and after His resurrection (Luke 24. 27,44,45). Here is our authority for accepting and regarding our Bible to be the very Word of God. The second proof is a very simple one. We know the Book to be true, because we have the proof in ourselves. It told us, as sinners, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we would be saved (Acts 16.31). We did believe; we were saved (2 Tim 1.9,10; 1 Cor 15.3). God fulfilled the promise : the promise was therefore true. We claim, therefore, for the Bible that it is the eternal Word of Almighty God; that it was inspired by Him; that its words, yea, even its very letters (see Gal. 3.16, where the presence of an "s" is used to prove Christ the Seed of Abraham), are from Him, and of Him, and it is perfect. The Holy Scriptures as we have them, notwithstanding minor errors in transcription and variations in translation, are God's Word. There is nothing to be taken from it, because nothing is superfluous; nothing to be added to it, because nothing is awant-ing (Deut. 4.2; Prov. 30.5-6). Its authority, sufficiency, and supremacy abide, in spite of infidel attacks, open or disguised, and all its commands and precepts, the least and the greatest alike, are to be honoured and obeyed by God's people, always and everywhere, in every department of their lives, in the family, the business, the church, and the world
Questions and Answers.
1.—Did the writers of the Scriptures understand all that they wrote?—1 Peter 1.10, shows they did not. They wrote what God gave them, then "inquired and searched diligently" to know its meaning. This disposes of the objection that "unlearned and ignorant men" could not have used such language as is found in the writings attributed to them. But if God gave them the words to speak and write, as He did (see Isa. 55.11; 2 Sam. 23.2), then the case is closed.
2.—Can it be shown, as is often alleged, that men of learning and ability reject the Bible as fully reliable?—The late Bishop Ryle well says—"I believe the inspired writers were guided by the Holy Ghost alike in their selection of matter and their choice of words"; and Dean Burgon adds— "Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High." Earl Cairns, twice Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, was an ardent believer in the inspiration of the Bible, and found therein "the foundation of all law and all morality." Sir Matthew Hale says— "There is no book like the Bible for excellent learning, wisdom, and use." W. E. Gladstone called it "the Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture," and Sir Isaac Newton "the most sublime philosophy." Faith requires no such assurances from man, but they at least rebut the popular fallacy, that " all learned men reject the Bible as being Divinely inspired."
3.—It is said that we accept the Bible as the Word of God because "the Church" accredits it. Is this a sound argument?—Very far from it. It is Rome's favourite nevertheless, and "the Church" in this view means the priest or the Pope. "The Bible," say they, "is not of itself infallible, but the Church is, and therefore we accept the Bible, because the Church tell us to do so." The facts are, that "the Church," guided by the canons of the Council of Nice, puts Scripture and Tradition on the same basis, accepting both as having the same authority. But the simple Christian who makes his Bible his constant companion, does not require "the Church" or any human authority whatever to intervene. He knows the Shepherd's voice when he hears it in his soul. He knows the Bible is the Word of his God, because it brings him to His presence. And he does not judge the Bible and its utterances by the Church, but, on the contrary, he tests the Church and its teachings by the Bible.
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS (33),
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"O, THE DEEP, DEEP LOVE OF JESUS!"
SAMUEL TREVOR FRANCIS (1834—1925)
Samuel Trevor Francis was born in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire on November 19th, 1834. Like the boy Timothy, he was privileged to have a godly mother and a godly grandmother. He recal'ls the impressions of those early childhood days, of a grandmother who taught him his letters using the scriptures as her textbook and of a mother whose prayer life he could never forget. "One of my earliest recollections" he recounts, "is going with my eldest brother into my mother's room and made to kneel with her, while she poured out her soul in earnest supplication that her boys might grow up to be God-fearing men," and God heard and abundantly answered that mother's prayer.
Much of his early life was spent in the city of Hull As a boy, he demonstrated a propensity to write poetry and compiled a volume of poems in his own handwriting. His elder brother teased and taunted the youthful poet about these compositions to the extent that, in a fit of temper, the young Samuel Trevor tore them up and sadly these have been forever lost. In his early years he also demonstrated a love for music and at the age of nine joined himself to the choir of Hull Parish Church. Two meetings which Samuel Trevor attended as a youth in Hull city left life-long impressions with him. The first was when Mr. Akester, a chemist in the city, had asked him "if he would like to see a man buried alive." He said that he would and observed as Mr. Andrew Jukes baptized by immersion a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The second was when he witnessed for the first time a company of believers gather in simplicity to remember the Lord Jesus.
In his late teen's, Samuel Trevor Francis moved to London with a view to studying medicine but upon the death of his father 12 months later, he relinquished all prospects of such a career. He then took up work in London and, at that time, God through His Spirit wrought a work of grace in his heart. His spiritual need became a heavy burden to him and he spent hours in prayer crying to God for mercy but let S. T. Francis tell, in his own words of that great experience which brought peace to his troubled heart. "I was on my way home from work and had to cross Hungerford Bridge to the South of the Thames. It was a winter's night of wind and rain and in the loneliness of that walk I cried to God to have mercy upon me. Staying for a moment to look at the dark waters flowing under the bridge, the temptation was whispered to me, Make an end of all this misery.'
I drew back from the evil thought, and suddenly a message was borne into my very soul, "You do believe In the Lord Jesus Christ?" I at once answered, "I do believe" and I put my whole trust in Him as my Saviour. Instantly there came the reply,, "Then you are saved" and with a thrill of joy I ran across the bridge, burst through the turnstile and pursued my way home, repeating the words again and again, "Then I am saved! Then I am saved!"
Soon after conversion, S. T. Francis identified himself with an assembly of believers meeting at Kennington, and there he continued for all the years that followed. He engaged in the preaching of the gospel, both indoor and in the open-air and through his ministry, many were converted to the Lord; the years that followed on the 1859 Revival were particularly fruitful. When Moody and Sanky visited London in 1873/1874, Francis identified himself with that mission, at times deputizing for Mr. Sankey and leading the praise. In his labours, he travelled widely, visiting Canada, Australia, Palestine and North Africa. Seventy three years were spent devotedly in the service of the Lord and on December 28th, 1925, in the 92nd year of his life, he passed away peacefully into the presence of his Lord.
The deep gratitude that flooded the soul of S. T. Francis on conversion's day ever remained with him through life and often found expression in poetry and in song.
"Let me sing—for the glory of heaven
Like a sunbeam has swept o'er my heart;
I would praise Thee for sins all forgiven,
For Thy love, which shall never depart.
A song of a sinner forgiven.
And a song that is music to Thee;
A song of a pilgrim to heaven,
Yes, a song from a sinner like me!"
The compositions coming from his pen were many and the subject matter diverse but all stemmed from a deep devotion to Ns Lord and Saviour. Many of them first appeared in various papers and magazines and at the close of life, the author collected some 151 into one volume of "Select Poems." While engaged in this work, he was stricken by partial blindness but through the kindness and help of friends, the volume was published. In its preface, the author stated that the book was not written in the interest of any party or school of thought, but for all who "love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth."
Several of the hymns of S. T. Francis have found a worthy place in the hymnals and within the hearts of the Lord's people. The words of his, "Adoring Jesus" (Jesus, we remember Thee') is very often the language of redeemed hearts gathered at the
Lord's table on the first day of the week. Its companion hymrt ('Gracious God, we worship Thee'), in adoration of the Father, is perhaps less well known. In both of these adoration hymns, a recurring phrase is found which gives emphasis to trie hymn's great central theme. His advent hymn, "I am waiting for the dawning" is another favourite; its language is truly that of an anticipating and expectant heart awaiting the coming again of the Lord Jesus.
The love of Christ was, however, the writer's grandest theme of all; in its atmosphere he loved to dwell, bathing in the warmth of its sunshine and drinking deeply of its stream. Then from his soul, thereby refreshed and satisfied, he poured forth the treasures of his lovely hymn, "O, the deep, deep Jove of Jesus."
"O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love,
Leading onward, leading homeward, T
To my glorious rest above.
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
None can tell the reason why
He descended from His glory,
Came to earth to bleed and die;
I, a wrecked and ruined creature,
Sinful, helpless, all defiled;
But the love of God in Jesus
Made me God's beloved child.
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore,
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, never more;
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own,
How for them He interceded,
Watcheth o'er them from the Throne.
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best,
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
'Tis a haven sweet of rest;
Though polluted, sinful, wretched
Yet He calleth me "His own;"
He will lift me to the grandeur
Of His everlasting Throne."
The completed hymn, '.'Love of Jesus" by S. T. Francis contained in all eight verses; it is the first four verses of the original hymn that are given here. Like Samuel Rutherford, S. T. Francis discovered that the Saviour's love "hath neither brim nor bottom" and that "there are infinite plies to His love that the saints will never win to unfold." However, in the verses here given, S. T. Francis has unfolded for us some of the plies of that Divine love—first, that it is boundless ("vast, unmeasured, boundless, free")—second, that it is causeless ("none can tell the reason why")—third, that it is changeless ("changeth never, never more")—fourth, that it is matchless ("love of every love, the best"). Each ply of the love of Christ has its own peculiar features and each displays its own exquisite beauty; nor will we ever come to the last ply for there are infinite plies in that deep, deep love.