Outlining the Book of Revelation
By Wm. Bunting.
This, however, is not all. The international political scene to-day, especially when viewed in relation to Israel, has also a profound significance. In the first place, the Near and Middle East form one of the most vital focal spots of world tension. In the second, many peoples in that and other regions have arisen as from the dust, since the end of the second World War, shaken off the lethargy of centuries, reasserted their rights, and boldly declared their independence. Egypt especially has come increasingly into the limelight and is now a sovereign State. Next, Israel’s neighbours and nations more distant are casting covetous eyes upon her.
This last feature deserves more than mere mention. Let us dwell upon it for a moment. We need not wonder at it. Israel is a land of unbounded wealth and prosperity. Her conquest and rapid development have been astonishing. The pioneering spirit of her sons has caused the desert to blossom like a rose. In arts, culture, commerce, science, medicine, and agriculture she is coming more and more to the forefront. Her increased rainfall is a modern miracle. Her Health Service stands on a higher level than that of the United States, Britain, Russia, France, or Germany. Her death rate is the lowest in the world, and considering that the State is but fifteen years old and that the mass migration to it from so many lands was accompanied by widespread disease, this is another miracle. (See “A Christian Voice in Israel” p. 12, July, 1963). It is no marvel therefore, that Israel has been described by H. Rimmer as “a plum that makes the eyes of international robbers gleam with avarice” (“The Shadow of Coming Events”, p. 66).
Yet notwithstanding Israel’s remarkable conquest and national progress, there is something still more remarkable. This is the well known fact that the Jews in Palestine to-day are totally excluded from the one spot upon earth which above all others is dear and sacred to their hearts—their beloved City of David, with its Temple Area, Wailing Wall, and other objects of veneration. Old Jerusalem is still in Arab hands.
Not only are the surrounding nations covetous of Israel’s wealth, however; they harbour an intense and deep-seated hatred of her. They are her avowed enemies. On the very day of her independence the new State was attacked on all fronts by the armies of seven countries (Compare Deut. 7. 1). Some months ago, too, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq signed a treaty to unite in order to destroy her. “For the first time in the history of modern nations, the destruction of a people had been laid down as an objective in the constitution of three countries which were members of the United Nations” (Mr. Ben Gurion). Furthermore, away to the distant north of Palestine lies the great atheistic Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which through ‘peaceful penetration’ and other means now has many satellite nations beneath its wing. This power is also hostile to Israel, and has assisted the Arabs by shipping to them vast quantities of arms and military equipment, to use against the Jews.
Then we must not fail to observe that to the west of Palestine a great combination of nations—Italy, West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Holland—has been formed. This powerful combination has established what is known as “The European Common Market”, which was ratified by “The Treaty of Rome” in 1957. Its aim is both economic and political, and has been described as “the greatest attempt at European unification since Charlemagne.” As is well known, the increasingly dominant influence in this great combination is the Roman Vatican. Many in high places firmly believe it will be only a matter of time until Britain and other nations also join the Common Market. One great difference between it and the Soviet Union is that it is friendly towards the Jewish cause.
Here, briefly, is a delineation of the present international scene, viewed in its relation to Israel. Its deep significance, like that of modern Jewish life, lies in its close resemblance to the picture of the last days so graphically portrayed in the prophetic Scriptures, as we shall now see.
These Scriptures plainly indicate that the storm centre at the end time will be Palestine and the adjacent countries (See Ezekiel 38 and 39; Dan. 11. 40-45; Zech. 10. 10, 11; 14. 1-21; and several other related passages). They teach that at that time there will be a mighty upsurge of nationalism. The fig tree putting forth its tender leaves, after the long sleep of winter (Luke 21. 29-33), symbolizes the revivification and prosperity of Israel as a nation; while the statement that “all the trees” will “shoot forth” indicates that new life and vigour will be manifest in other races as well. Even if this interpretation of our Lord’s parable be doubted, many other Scriptures plainly teach the same thing. Thus Daniel 11. 41-43 implies that at the end time Edom, Moab, Ammon, Egypt, Lybia, and Ethiopia, which for centuries have been weak, languid, and unimportant, will be powers to be reckoned with. Ezekiel 38 names several great warrior nations. Compare also Psalm 72. 10; Isaiah 60. 6-9 and Joel 2, none of which has yet been fulfilled. Of all these nations, the one mentioned most frequently as playing a great part in the future, is Egypt, as reference to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and other Prophecies will show.
The prophet Ezekiel predicts, too, that in “the latter years” (38. 8)—“the latter days” (v. 16)—“the people that are gathered out of the nations” (v. 12)—“Israel” (v. 14)—then dwelling in “the land that is brought back from the sword” (v. 8), “in the middle of the earth” (v. 12, R.V.), will be so rich in “silver and gold . . . cattle and goods” (v. 13), that certain nations, greedy and envious of their vast wealth, will sweep down upon them “to take a prey … to take great spoil” (v. 13).
We come now to a most interesting point. Though it is clear from the Scriptures that Israel will reoccupy her own Land in unbelief, and prior to Christ’s descent to earth, our Lord mentions something which at first sight might seem to suggest a positive contradiction of this. This is the fact that Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, will not be freed from the Gentile yoke, but will be “trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED” (Luke 21. 24). To reconcile this saying with the passages which appear to teach the exact opposite must have been a difficulty to many a devout student of the Word until modern times. To us to-day it demonstrates the unerring accuracy of that Word. Modern Jerusalem now covers the precise area foretold in Jer. 31. 38-40, as we saw in an earlier chapter, and belongs to Israel, but the city of our Lord’s time, Old Jerusalem, is still beneath the Gentile heel.
Further, Joel 3. 9-19 and Zech. 12. 1-9; 14. 1-2, clearly indicate that Israel will be beset by many enemies at the end time. We believe, too, that Psalm 83, in which a great confederacy of ten peoples come against her, and of which some see a partial fulfilment in 2 Chron. 20, still awaits its complete fulfilment. The prophecy, of course, employs ancient names. Though the identity of a few of these is perhaps uncertain, the reference is clearly to the Arab nations bordering upon Israel—Assur to the north; Tyre to the north-west; Edom, Ishmael and Moab to the south; Ammon and Amalek to the east; and the Philistines (in the district of the Gaza strip) to the west. All of these are bent upon the destruction of God’s chosen people. “Come”, say they, “let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (v. 4). Then in Ezekiel 38, already referred to, the great foe that sweeps down so unmercifully upon Israel in “the latter years” comes from “the uttermost parts of the north” (w. 6, 15; 39. 2). The expression, “the uttermost parts of the north” (i.e. north of Palestine), leaves no doubt at all as to the geographical location in view—it is that occupied to-day by Russia.
Finally, in addition to the great Northern Confederacy, Scripture speaks of the presence of a powerful bloc of nations in South Europe at the time of the end. This mighty empire will be comprised of ten kingdoms (Dan. 2. 40-43; 7. 7, 24; Rev. 13. 1; 17. 3, 7, 12, 16, 17). For a time it will be controlled by the ecclesiastical system represented by the woman clothed in scarlet (Rev. 17. 3, 7). The seven hills on which the woman sits signify the city of Rome (vv. 9, 18). Rome therefore will be the governmental centre of this immense empire—“a United Europe”. Its great prince will professedly be friendly towards the Jews and will enter into a seven-years pact with them, guaranteeing, no doubt, the protection of the rights and liberties of their small State (Daniel 9. 26-27).
It will thus be seen that touching all these deeply significant matters—the focal spot of world tension, the spirit of Nationalism, the ascending importance of Egypt, the nations’ greed of Israel’s vast wealth, the unique facts regarding Jerusalem, the Arabs’ hatred of the Jews, Russia’s rise and her support of the Arab nations, the uniting of the great Powers in Europe, their increasing subservience to Rome, and their favourable attitude towards Israel—touching all these matters and others which could be mentioned, there exists a close and amazing resemblance between the face of the present international situation and the prophetic programme of the last days as pictured in the Word of God.
Who can doubt, therefore, that the things foretold in Scripture are now taking shape? What power has caused all the conditions and occurrences which we have reviewed to synchronise, to coincide, to converge upon exactly the same period of our history? If, as some suggest, the Bible is not the very Word of God, why are the opposite things not coming to pass to-day? Dr. Russell Taylor Smith has well said that “any man who can hold an open Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, and then cannot tell what time of day it is, needs to remember our Lord’s words, ‘O ye hypocrites . . . can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ (Matthew 16. 3)”.
If therefore the stage is set for the literal fulfilment of prophecy, how can it possibly be denied that Israel as a nation has been destined by God to fill a role in the dramatic and crucial events to which the world is now rapidly moving? What becomes of the picture at which we have looked if the Jew and his Land be taken out of it? Who is so blind that he cannot see that Israel is the pivot around which all God’s dealings with the nations to-day revolve? “To leave out the nation of Israel as the future recipient of God’s blessing not only makes the Word of God of none effect, but also completely distorts it, so that prophecy has no meaning. ISRAEL IS THE KEY TO PROPHECY” (From Preface of “Israel—Key to Prophecy”, by Wm. L. Hull).
(To be continued).
By S. Jardine, Belfast.
FINAL VISIONS AND COUNSELS Chap. 21. 22—22. 21.
JOHN’S comprehensive vision of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, caused him to note the elements that were conspicuously absent from it, following which the positive accompaniments of it are brought clearly before him. El-Shaddai (Lord Almighty) and the Lamb make unnecessary any kind of temple. Worship will then be possible without the restrictions of this life of time and sense, for faith will have become sight. With a perfect capacity, an unreserved readiness, and die ever-present inspiration of the Lord’s unclouded Presence, we shall worship with all the fervour of redeemed and glorified personalities. The longing of our hearts down here will be realized when we have immediate and unlimited access to the Object of our praise and affection.
Within this glorious spiritual structure, created light will play no part, “tor the glory of God”, we read, “did lighten it, and the LAMP thereof is the Lamb.” This is the secret of both the inward illumination of the city and of the outward radiance from which the nations of the earth will benefit. The nations of the Kingdom period will have continual access to it, as they bring their glory and honour into it.
The absence of night is surely a pleasing thought to saints who down here know much of darkness, shadows and mysteries. Doubts and fears are the offspring of the night, but the “valley of the shadow of death”, and all its kin, will be forever gone.
Here too, a holy exclusiveness precludes the unclean, the abominable and the lying. To such the purity of Heaven would constitute a kind of Hell. The enjoyment of that fair abode is confined to true citizens, whose registration in the Lamb’s book of life brings with it the nature and ability to appreciate its unmeasured joys.
The Angel-escort brings the tour of inspection to an end by showing certain necessary accompaniments of the City. First, there is a source of perennial refreshment, “a pure river of water of life proceeding out of the Throne of God and the Lamb.” The emblem is that of the Spirit of God (John 7. 39) and the conjunction of the Throne, the Lamb, and the River, give us the final picture of the co-ordinated activities of the blessed Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit of God, begun in regenerating grace down here, will flow on in bountiful and satisfying fulness, in “the age” and “ages to come”. Here too, we get our final glimpse in the Scriptures of the Throne of God. Its sovereignty is here enhanced by the association with of the Lamb of God, the once-for-all Sacrifice for sin, Who upheld its character in meeting for us its claims. Then the place and power of “the Tree of Life” are seen, suggesting the blessing and favour that are inherently and uniquely found in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has restored that which He took not away. This is borne in upon us very forcibly in this context, where the features of the Eden-paradise are reproduced, but in a grander setting and with the majesty of a vindicated Throne. The River, the Tree of Life, the absence of the curse, the unbroken service and fellowship of that “Summer-land”, all declare Christ’s reconciliation of all things in Heaven and earth.
The unspeakable bliss of the glorified consists in the service they shall render, the Face they shall be permitted to see, the likeness they shall wear in the light of His presence, and in their sharing the administration of their Lord. Service awaits you, beloved child of God, that will excel your highest expectation. What inexpressible pleasure and communion is signified by the fact that, “they shall see His face.” We shall never weary beholding
- “That bright and blessed brow,
- Once wrung with bitterest anguish, wear
- Its crown of glory now
In the strong, tender, lovely features of the Son of God we shall read past mercy, present felicity and eternal Salvation. “We shall know even as we are known.” The name of the Bridegroom imprinted on each brow, would point to evidences in each of union and oneness with Him. It will be the realization of that great purpose of God that we should be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8. 28-30).
The work of John’s conductor is almost finished, and there are only a few important items remaining, to conclude this great unvailing of our Lord Jesus Christ. John is given emphatic and authoritative assurance of the source, certainty and imminence of the facts disclosed to him (v. 6). As we have seen, they all concern one great event, the promise of which our blessed Lord Himself reiterates in three distinct connections. In verse 7 He relates the promise to preparation. Happy is that believer who is keeping the word of His patience and submitting to the revealed will of his Lord. In the fullest sense he is ready for the rapturing shout. In’ verse 12 He relates the promise to compensation. He cannot forget the heart of love on earth that sought to walk apart from this blood-guilty world and to further His Gospel by life and lip. He cannot forget the building of Christian character and the Christian Assembly during His absence, and so His “reward is with Him.” In verse 20 He relates the promise to confirmation or certainty. The “True and faithful Witness” speaks for the comfort of waiting and longing hearts, “Surely I come quickly”, and “all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Thus every fulfilled promise in your career, dear Christian, is a proof of the verity of your Master and the certainty of His coming.
We can a little appreciate John’s feelings and mistake in the presence of such unfoldings. He fell to worship this angelic Conductor, but was reminded that angels are not fit subjects of veneration and God alone is to be worshipped. Here, too, the “open” nature of the Unvailing is most definitely affirmed. Whereas Daniel was to seal up his prophecy, John was to refrain from that, for the patent reason that his messages were either in process of fulfilment (Chaps. 2 and 3) or impending (Chaps. 4-19). These predictions are shown to give fixity to man’s destiny (v. 11).
The final beatitude, verses 13 and 14, is best read in the Revised Version. “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.” Here again our glorious Lord asserts His authority, declaring who shall be excluded. Those who prefer their sins to the Son of God shall have them and their wages forever.
One of the most appealing passages of this Book is the further personal utterance of Christ in verses 16 and 17, to the churches coupled with the response of the Spirit and the Bride. As the “Root of David”, He is David’s Lord. As David’s Offspring He is the seed of David (Compare Matt. 22. 42-46). “The Bright and Morning Star” is the last picture-title of the Saviour in our Bibles, and should engage our hearts and eyes in active watchfulness for His return. This is the attitude of the Spirit-directed Church whose cry and prayer is ever, “Come”, “Come, Lord Jesus.” A last Gospel appeal reminds others unprepared that LIFE is the pre-requisite for His coming.
How important the communication must be which has such solemn warnings in its conclusion! The adding of the plagues of the book to those who add human findings to the Divine follows in verse 18. And only those who are enemies of God will presume to tamper with its revelations or subtract from its truth. For such, LIFE and a portion in the Bride are impossible.
Though we have reached the conclusion and benediction of this amazing prophecy, yet Christ’s testimony continues. The message rings out to-day as in John’s day, “Surely, I come quickly.” God’s people who neglect His testimony dishonour Him and do no small injury to themselves, their Christian character and usefulness for Him. The loving hearts of multitudes of saints on earth, longing to see Him, to be with Him, to share His likeness, take up this word with eager alacrity, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
“The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
An Outline of Bible Teaching
By Dr. J. W. McMillan, India.
12. How to Act.
JT will be obvious to any reader of these chapters, that not all companies of those known as “Christians”, act in the way that we have described. In some cases, belief in the deity of Christ is not required in church members; in many cases, local churches are federated into denominations; in some cases, the children of Christians are regarded as fit for baptism, and the Lord’s Supper is only rarely observed; oversight is vested in a “bishop” or “superintendent”, with authority over a number of churches, rather than in a group of elders in each church; “one-man ministry” is the rule in many congregations, little scope being given for the development of gift; some care little as to the lives that their members live, and even tolerate immorality and false doctrine. How is the believer to act in view of these things?
- He must never forget that the basic principle of Christian living is that of practically recognising CHRIST AS LORD. The disobedience of others is no excuse for my disobedience. Whatever it costs, I must do as HE commands. The words of Mary, the Lord’s mother, to the servants at Cana of Galilee should be taken to heart by every Christian : “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (John 2. 5).
- In linking himself with any group of Christians, he should therefore ask the question : “Is membership in this church consistent with acknowledging Christ as Lord?” If the answer is “No,” he should refuse to join it, or, if already a member, should come out of it.*
- *Many examples could be given of this. It is required that officers of all ranks of the Salvation Army, to take one example, should teach only in conformity to their official HANDBOOK OF DOCTRINE, which teaches that those who have been truly converted may fall away and be lost (in direct opposition to the teaching of our Lord in John 10. 25-30, and many other passages), and that water baptism was not Intended for perpetual observance (cf. Matthew 28. 19, 20). A believer would therefore have to decide as to whether he would accept the Word of Christ as supremely authoritative, or the HANDBOOK OF DOCTRINE.
- He should then seek to actively associate with a group of believers who are sincerely seeking to carry out the pattern of church life found in the Scriptures. It may be a small company, perhaps only two or three, but if they are truly gathered “in His name”, the Lord Jesus Himself has promised to be “in the midst”, and we can rely on His word (Matthew 18. 20). If there is no such company of believers within reach, he should so seek to witness to his neighbours and friends that they may believe and be saved.
There are difficulties to be faced in this, as in all other aspects of the Christian life. The believer who is seeking to obey the Lord must beware lest he should become proud of his obedience. “Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do’,” is a word from the Lord Jesus Himself (Luke 17. 10). While we should seek to “admonish and teach every man” (Colos-sians 1. 28), we should remember that each Christian is responsible to His own Master (Romans 14. 10-12), and be very careful in judging motives. After all, our first duty is to follow the Lord ourselves (John 21. 22), and not to worry unnecessarily about our brethren.
May the Lord grant that our consideration of these topics may lead to greater practical obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that our assemblies may more truly represent Him to others. (Concluded).
Dear Mr. Editor.
The first sentence of a certain manifesto runs, “ ‘The Brethren’ or ‘Christian Brethren’ take this name because they prefer to be known by a designation comprehensive enough to embrace all their fellow-Christians.” From which it is clear that “The Brethren” intentionally differentiates itself as a section distinct from other believers. In the Scriptural sense, of course, though this is not what the sentence affirms, Christians are as much brethren while not among The Brethren as they could be in that sect. Sect it obviously is, on the same level as Methodists, Baptists, and others who sectionalise. Gal. 5. 20, where the word heresies means sects, shows this to be unscriptural. The scattering of Christians among sects, The Brethren and others, is a gross maladjustment. It calls for recognition, confession, abandonment, and amendment. Christians should cease to do evil, and learn to do well.
Sectarianism did not exist among believers in New Testament times, at Corinth or elsewhere; 1 Cor. 11. 19 shows that it was feared as a pernicious possibility. New Testament churches were established on Jesus Christ alone as Foundation, not on Christ plus a denomination, or a movement, not on Christrplus anything. Gal. 1. 2 does not refer to Lutheran or Methodist or Brethren churches; Rev. 1. 4 does not tell of Brethren assemblies or Anglican congregations. Holy Writ does not recognise so-called Christian denominations; it provides them with no guidance for their conduct; they are not in God’s plan for true believers.
The claim that “though we are a denomination we are not a sect because we inter-communicate with other denominations” cannot be sustained. It is based on the assumption that sectarianism and exclusiveness are one. This is a straight-out mistake. Sectarianism (polychurchism, many churches) is no less foreign to Holy Writ than is polytheism (many gods). On the other hand, Scripture gives to exclusiveness (not exclusivism, but uniqueness, only-ness) a place in Christian faith and practice which is prominent, essential, vital. It needs to be recognised, too, that this exclusiveness, like that of Exodus 20. 3, brooks neither substitution nor addition. Acts 4. 12; 1 Cor. 3. 10, 11; 8. 6; Eph. 4. 4-6; 1 Tim. 2. 5; Jude 5. Let it be recognised, then, that tolerance does not necessarily evidence freedom from sectarianism; the essence of this is sectionalising, tolerant or not.
Sect-making leads to sect-naming. The sect of The Brethren, competing with others, gives itself a name. It beats its own denominational drum; they beat theirs. “By their fruits ye shall know them” is not enough; “know us by our self-chosen name”, they say in effect. To love as brethren is of God; to contend, amicably or not, as a sect self-named “The Brethren” is on a vastly different, lower level.
For four generations since 1825 teachers have had sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures, and reverence for them, to abominate sectarianism, sect-making. Distinctive names they repudiated. In 1862 H. W. Soltau published his pamphlet, “They Found it Written, or, Those Called by Some, ‘The Brethren’ ”. He urged his readers to intelligently reject all such terms, with good will seeking to instruct the uninstructed who used them. In 1899 William Collingwood’s book referred to “The ‘Brethren’ (so-called)” who “became popularly distinguished from other Christians as ‘The Brethren’ ”, but “any such distinctive title they always repudiated.” In Sept., 1946, W. E. Vine answered Question 2380 of The Witness then edited by J. B. Watson, in similar vein, about the same time publishing his pamphlet, “The Mistaken Term, ‘The Brethren’ ”.
The mighty are fallen, slithering in sectarianism; in unbroth-erliness too, even seizing the term brethren which Scripture applies equally to all Christian men and arrogating it to their own section as if that has a special right to it. Where eyes are holden against the perception of its unbrotherliness, should not this lack be deemed a judgment?
Look at history, says a sect-leader. Very well; does not history reveal that “The Brethren” is a sect which began not in 1825 but in 1708? Whose is the muddled thinking? whose the fuddled acting? Who ought specially to perceive the unbrotherliness of any Brethren system, the men of 1708 or the more favoured Christians of 1963?
In applying it equally to all Christian men, Scripture registers the significance of the term brethren. To give it a slant which it does not possess there is reprehensible. It brings the offender under condemnation. Matthew 12. 27. It is as illegitimate as in commerce it is fraudulent to sell contraband goods under a legally registered name. The two proceedings are on a par in aiming to exploit the ignorant for purposes desired by the exploiter. They rebound to the deterioration, as well as the discredit, of the exploiter. Is the reader willing to be exploited by sub-standard teaching which violates the simple term brethren? Who would be content to be an exploiter? Soltau, Collingwood, Vine, and many others, were not; their spiritual level was too high to permit of it.
It has been shown that this Brethren system is essentially sectional sectarian, unscriptural, unbrotherly, muddled, and illegitimate. Considerations of language show it to be both exceptionally foolish and offensive towards its women-folk.
Of the Christian men who refuse to rally round the Brethren banner, Anglicans are described, in accordance with accepted and inoffensive terminology, as Anglican brethren, Presbyterians as Presbyterian brethren. From such as these, Christian men among The Brethren have to be distinguished; but how? By submitting, whether they like it or not, to be dubbed Brethren brothers, or Brethren brethren. What has made University men, and non-University men, so benighted as to be satisfied to sport such a label?’ Is this being fools for Christ’s sake? The sisters, too, are compelled to be known as Brethren sisters, to distinguish them from others. What a crazy set-up it is which positively necessitates such nonsensical terminology. However friendly everybody’s intentions may be, the Brethren system poses, every man in it as a dunderhead and every woman 4 laughing-stock. In respect of crass stupidity and offensiveness to women, it is a grade lower than most other sectarian systems. Shame on it!
The Brethren system should be repudiated outright. Reject its world-conformity, its obvious basis, its sect-making. Difficulties will become opportunities for testing and for testifying. Let us go to the law and the testimony to God and the word of His grace. God has better things for His beloved people than the grotesque Brethren brand of sectarianism. Luke 21. 23. Australia. Rowland C. Edwards.
For a full discussion of this subject see the booklet, “The Use and Abuse of the Term ‘Brethren’”, by our esteemed Correspondent, and elsewhere advertised in this magazine. W. Bunting.
- Extract from a letter written more than a century ago
- From Mr. Prideaux Selby to his son.
- Maidenhead, 16th November, 1828.
My Dear Henry,
Let the goodness of God be the theme of your meditations. Think of Him who has preserved you so far in your journey through life, Who gave His only begotten Son to die for your sins; and with that unspeakable gift the promise of eternal life to all who really believe on Him. Search the Scriptures daily, for they testify of Jesus. Let the invitations of your Almighty Father, so affectionately pressed on the young, have your cordial acceptance. “Young man give me thine heart”; “They that seek Me early shall find Me”; “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” Think, my dearest child, how unimportant are all the worldly objects compared with eternity and its awful realities; and though we are obviously called by Providence to the discharge of important duties in this world, and know not why our path is so often dark and mysterious, we should ever subdue them to the grand end, and object of our existence, namely, the glory of God, and the salvation of our immortal souls. . . “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Consider that these were the words of Truth itself, of Him who spake as never man spake, and therefore wonder not that I refer them to your serious and deepest consideration. Cultivate, my dear Henry, a spirit of prayer, persevere in it as a duty, until you find it a privilege. Court the society of good men. You are entering upon a world of temptation, but remember that there is One who can deliver you from temptation, or with the temptation make a way for your escape, if you pray to Him for preventing grace. . . I will not dwell’ upon the vast importance of truth, justice, temperance, compassion and all the moral virtues, because if by divine grace you are a believer in Jesus and in the sublime truths of revelation, you will then have the love of God shed abroad in your heart; and this will at once produce all corresponding fruits. May God in His infinite mercy grant this may be your happy experience and then you will possess, not only all the happiness we can desire for you, but a peace of mind, which surpasseth all understanding.
We must defend the Faith; for what would have become of us if our fathers had not maintained it? If Confessors, Reformers, Martyrs, and Covenanters had been recreant to the name and faith of Jesus, where would have been the Churches of to-day? Must we not play the man as they did? If we do not, are we not censuring our Fathers? It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds? Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes, but you do not want anyone else to do the same to-day. When you go to the Zoological Gardens you all admire the bear; but how would you like a bear at home, or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me that it would be unbearable, and no doubt you are right. So we admire a man who is firm in the Faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man to-day is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther Zwingli, Calvin, and their compeers had said, “The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.” Such conduct upon their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them, and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe to our fathers. It is to-day as it was in the Reformer’s days. Decision is needed.
I WILL NOT FORGET THEE
- Sweet is the promise, ‘I will not forget thee,’
- Nothing can molest or turn my soul away;
- E’en though the night be dark unthin the valley,
- Just beyond is shining one eternal day.
- I . . . will not forget thee or leave thee:
- In my hands I’ll hold thee, in my arms I’ll fold thee;
- I . . . will not forget thee or leave thee,
- I am thy Redeemer, I will care for thee.
- Trusting the promise, ‘I will not forget thee,’
- Onward will I go with songs of joy and praise;
- Tho’ earth despise me, tho’ my friends forsake me,
- Jesus will be near me gladdening my days.
- When at the golden portals I am standing,
- All my tribulations, all my sorrows past.
- How sweet to hear the blessed proclamation,
- ‘Enter, faithful servants welcome home at last.’
- Chas. H. Gabriel.
- (Alexander’s Hymns No. 3. Hymn 118).