Varieties in the Coming Glory, answering to Christ's Titles.

1880 75 A very solemn subject; and I feel thoughtful as to its being brought before the mind, for if one attempts to grapple with the divine glory, there is no saying what danger we may be brought into, though in the liberty of the Spirit I may see all things. For there is liberty to those who are brought home to God, the contrast to the law. When we come to consider that the coming glory is not only ours, but the Lord's, we are like John, a little, in the Revelation, who found the book first sweet, and afterwards bitter. Also Jeremiah said, "Thy words I found, and did eat them," etc.; but he was soon found in a different way. Whenever there is a reception of God's truth, whilst talking of the church, instead of to the church, it is hitter. I see that there is a sadness in the knowledge of the future which some of us may not have counted upon. Jeremiah, prepared by sorrow, would so prophesy; and we shall find preparedness of mind for the future by sensibility with the sorrows of the church. If we let a trouble come in between us and God, we shall break down. If God comes in between us and the trouble, we get strength to sustain it and, like Paul, bear it. We suffer the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. The moon shines upon the earth, but there is always the sun, behind it, giving light to the moon. Paul found everything slipping away, as in bitterness of spirit, shown in the Epistle to Timothy, and he clings to Timothy always.

It is not surprising, then, that we should feel. Jeremiah feeling the sorrows was a fit vessel to wail over Jerusalem, as expressed in Lamentations. If there is not the energy of faith,* there is not the support of faith. The first may fail, but the dependence of faith cannot be taken from us. In Psalm xlii., concerning the affliction, "Where is thy God?" the word is, Hope in God — nothing else. He should praise Him for the help of His countenance; he knew it would shine again, and he could afterwards say, He "is the health of my countenance." Here God comes in between the soul and the trouble, and there is help. Hope was exercised when in the midst of affliction: knowing God would shine on him, and then he would reflect it. "To go up with those who keep holiday" was demonstration of joy. It is good for us to look out for the glory; a secret looking for it makes us more sensible of evil, but yet kept in communion. Anticipation of evil would deaden, it would unsanctify the heart, unless we could connect all with God. It is the contrivance of Satan to fill the mind with the evil; but if I look clear out of the evil into the glory, I get rest and peace. "Be not afraid with any amazement" — "be not afraid of their terror." Satan seeks to give evil its power over the mind; and, looking at it, I get either insensibility or terror.

[*This, too, in a certain sense, as it regards the testimony to the world.]

There is a blessing in meeting thus together. The world shut out for a season, we can have enjoyment of fellowship, each saying, "I will hear what the Lord will say." Feeling as a man failure and sorrow, here is a certain concentration of life gathered up that has set on the heart with better application of what God sees. It is a sort of epitome of the state of things which has set the heart on the road of service the Lord would have us pursue.

I think we are apt as the general rule to lose sight of the distinct place of the state of the church. There is something very peculiar and special in the blessing of the church of God: more and more we should recognise the distinct place it has. The vast variety of the glory of Christ cannot he grasped by the mind. The essential position of the church of God is knowledge by faith. We are associated with Christ in hope upon the throne, and as our brother spoke largely of Joseph, in the thought that Joseph's employment, before he had the strength of the throne, was to be that of an interpreter of dreams; so surely it is now the place of the church to interpret the purposes of Christ, for we have His mind. Joseph was the interpreter of God's mind, as Christ is the wisdom of God. When glory is displayed, it will not require this wisdom. A sample of that glory is named in Hebrews vi. — "Having tasted of the powers of the world to come." Maintenance of unity will then be by power, not a principle.

Tradition did not see this; but God has made the distinction as wide as possible between His own inspired word and the writings of the Fathers. This had been permitted, I think (for nothing can be more unlike the pure word of God than their writings), to show the difference between the treasure and the interpretation. Thus we understand that the Spirit of God is that alone which the church is dependent on. The writings of the Fathers contain the greatest quantity of nonsensical trash, that could anywhere be found in like compass.

Men confound inspiration with gifts. The agency of the Holy Ghost in guiding may be quite as real as the apostles when they were inspired, but it is not of the same character. What business have I to speak in the church of God, but in virtue of the Holy Ghost? It is not a fresh revelation. We are stewards of the manifold grace of God to "speak as the oracles of God."

One of our brethren spoke of Genesis having in view heavenly and earthly glory. I agree that it is prospective of the future, but cannot agree that it gives a full view of the future glory. In Genesis we get earth begun — not a word is disclosed to me of heaven. I hear afterwards that the sons of God shouted for joy. The Christ of God is before all time. The Gospel of John is before Genesis; in it I get the genealogy of the Son — in Genesis the genealogy of the earth. In John I find everything that Christ is, from being Son of God, through every scene up to the future glory. There is only one point in which the world comes in here — "The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin (not the sins) of the world," a relation founded on blood. John only talks of "Jews," but as putting them aside. I find everything the Christ was from God, and afterwards every name and title. Christ baptizes with the Holy Ghost, the only symptom of the church down here.

I find Christians not connected with anything whatever, but before the world was. "Of his fulness have we all received." The church is thus not connected with heaven and earth, but with Him who was before the world was. No wonder the church is displayed as having all grace in Jesus. I get the secret standing of the church. I do not yet see anything ever brought into that place of the union before the world was, and all the glory gathered round us. I distinguish this from all displays of power. Even in Abraham, I find him heir of certain things, but each a properly distinct thing. If God chooses to place His glory in the heavens, but a place of displayed glory, different front communion with Himself, I doubt not if the knowledge of the Trinity does not come in. The church is led into the knowledge of the very Godhead. This is unintelligible to a Jew, who has the earth for an abiding-place for man. The Spirit of God might show all to a Jew that is to happen in a covert way, it might have been shadowed imperfectly; but all this has nothing to do with our fellowship with the Father. The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit off promise, hut earth is not the home of the church, though she is displayed here. There is something superior even to the display of God in the church, the vessel of the power down here; the place nearest to God with Christ is a mystery. The more I shall understand what I am lo God, I learn the lowest place here on earth is the one for the saint. I see this in Jesus: what distinguished Him from all other men was that He lived by every word of God, in unceasing unremitting dependence. Satan tempted Him to take the place of a Son, hut He would not be tempted to depart from that of a servant. He would do nothing without a command.

Everything, therefore, is made to wait on this Man; as Man He is perfect in the fulness of glory. (Phil. ii.) As we become emptied of self shall we become depositaries of power. The power of divine life is death to the creature; it is only when the church has been brought through death, she will be the depositary of power, morally now, actually by-and-by. Christ would not establish His relationship with earth, till death and the resurrection. Altogether a distinct thing is this from His communion with the Father. His relationship with this earth was unaccomplished till after His death.* I do not believe that this is a dispensation at all; it may be a parenthesis, but it is the gathering out of the elect out of all, Jew or Gentile, into Him who is above all dispensations.

[*Christ had a baptism to be baptized with.]

John's Gospel, beyond all others, comes out as revealing the divine person, etc. The fulness of the divine nature is brought out: two distinct things — what Christ was in Himself, and communion with God; also the place on earth and the place in glory. What dispensation was Christ in on the earth? No doubt He became a man and under law to accomplish redemption; but what was Christ in Himself? The church also can only be known by the knowledge of Himself. Incomprehensible, supposing the church all saints. Take it up in Ephesians: it is the body of the Head that looks down on all others. God's ways are suspended till the church is come in, and none can understand this but by the Spirit. The essential place of the church is above in the Son of God. If I were to own Christ as Messiah only, I should deny that I know Him to be in the Father or ascended on high. Our essential place is union with Christ, and all our difference in glory most flow from this.

I feel thoughtful about the subject before us. I am impressed with the thought that we should begin at the other end, even the love of God. Let us receive and believe the thoughts of God; but do not bring our thoughts to them, though the place it brings us into is the place of reciprocity. When we get into this as recipients, it is safe. I was endeavouring to show that the Gospel of John took the church higher than the creation; by the way in which the church is united to Christ, she is partaker of His fulness; but the moment I get into the Revelation the church passes, for I get into that which is anterior to creation. It is not "God created," but "God was." The mystery of the incarnation was not so much the glory given to Christ as the divine nature united to the human, and consequent on this, Christ passing sentence of death on all that was of man. We look up to be sharers with His glory which He had with the Father before the world was. We are brought into unity with Christ the Creator. The mystery of the church is God's association with it by being life — our union to Him in the power of this life in a double way — taking it up into the glory which Christ had before the world was. The moment it was Christ, the Head of the church, the Holy Ghost came down from the Head, the necessary power of uniting. Christ says, Whom I will send to you from the Father, and therefore reveals the Father. Where He says, Whom the Father, He comes as a witness of all the work and power of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Ghost is a demonstrator of the name in which it was shed. The Holy Ghost shed abroad in our hearts gives the power of divine love. To enjoy God as born of God, whether Jewish glory or heavenly, I cannot enter into the free-heartedness of that which is connected with God, not merely as having a new nature, but the Holy Ghost is there. Throughout the varieties of glory there must be throughout a consciousness of God's love. There is no such thing as loving God unless one is born* again; but it seems to me Romans 5:5, this to speak of the love of God shed abroad by the Holy Ghost. There is here the truth that God the Holy Ghost is there according as His divine power hath given (2 Peter i. 3.  dedoremenes translated actively); (ver. dedoretai translated passively): a sentence that cannot be translated;** because God is the giver and the gift; you cannot make grammar of this, for it is beyond the reach of human tongue. "He that loveth not knoweth not God." You cannot separate God's love to you and having love to Him. If His love is shed abroad, it enables us to enjoy that love. It is only upon the principle of annihilation of self that we can go into the subject, for it is infinite. As the apostle says, "The breadth, and length and depth," etc., and finished with saying it is past finding out. Inasmuch as the Holy Ghost comes down, and shows us Jesus in present various glories, He is Himself the very witness of these things.

[*As His divine power hath given all things pertaining to life and godliness.]

[**This may be doubted; as the perf. passive form is often used with a middle force, which would apply equally to 2 Peter i. 3, 4. — Ed.]

Now in the confusion of tongues, instead of a servant using a gift responsibly, having the modesty to remain in his place, some take the place off a master, as we see in 1 Corinthians. When I see Christ in His various glories — not the display of the glories, but the fellowship with it — it is out of the displayed glory altogether, which He comes down to take. When I see the vastness of the glory to which the Holy Ghost witnesses, I see that there is something beyond the reach of all knowledge, even fellowship with the Father and the Son. The Son in subjection is equally the Son of the Father. I can traverse all this glory, see Him in the lowest humiliation, and follow Him as King of kings, etc., etc. till He at last give up the kingdom (and this never touches His fellowship with the Father); and wherever we are placed, it is because of His place in it. After traversing all the glory, I can never get higher than God Himself. God is love, and His glory cannot be greater than Himself. What says the apostle when he was in the third heavens, and beheld things unutterable?

We say, "the blessed Jesus," and so on. When the Holy Ghost speaks of Him He never gives Him epithets; and this seems excellent, for, after all, they are only names, and cannot describe Him. The Holy Ghost, thus naming Jesus, leaves the results to be produced in people's hearts, to have our affections brought out to Him.

"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands;" and the Son going down into the dust of death, He takes up the church with Him into the same place. In John xvii. Christ takes everything as a recipient from His Father, and yet declares His own essential glory with Him. "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." Now this goes up higher than the creation of the world, yet it leads the thoughts to this truth, that Jesus was ever the object of the Father's love. In Matthew xi., "I thank thee, O Father," etc. Here was counsel, "It seemed good in thy sight." He thanked the Father for the very thing that broke His heart. He submitted to all that was in obedience to God. None could know His own being but the Father, and none but He could reveal the Father. He was so bright that none but the Father could fully know Him. We get into the very height (when the Son reveals the Father). Then, "Come to me, all ye that are weary," etc. He is Himself the dearest to the heart that comes to Him.

[*And who does not respond to this?]

I see in John xvii. that there was a glory He had "before the foundation of the world," yet as Man it was given to Him. When Jesus was upon the earth, He said, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" But when He speaks of their having the Holy Ghost, He says, "Ye shall know that I am in my Father, ye in me, and I in you." The unity He had with the church, the like unity there was between Himself and the Father. John xvii. is a conversation,* and in the presence of the church, between the Father and the Son respecting the church. I get now more insight into the occupation of thought between the Father and the Son. He takes the creature up into the glory wherewith He had glorified the Father, and gives Him all the words the Father had given Him. He has come to me, not only with a message of the Father's love, but He has taken me up to hear what the Father says. The Father was seen in Christ when on earth, but Christ could not say, Ye are in Him, because they had not the Holy Ghost. He came necessarily in a different character after the resurrection of Christ. The church is brought up into unity with the Father on the ground of unity with Christ. After Christ goes down into death He takes us up with Him. This is not Messiah's glory, but all that God had communicated to Christ. I am brought into this apprehension; I am brought near enough to hear what e said to the Father. Christ closes the chapter by saying, "The glory thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one." The delicacy of our Lord's love is shown in the tenderest manner, that "the world may know [not that I have loved them, but] that the Father loved them as he loved the Son."

[*Letting us into the thoughts about the Father, not exactly intercession.]

I do not see in this chapter the Lord speaks beyond those who heard Him and those who believe on Him through their word. He stops at the church (though I do not speak now as a teacher). The brethren should stop short and learn. I cannot reason from our element, but only believe. I regret all inferences from scripture, I cannot have faith in an inference, I can only have faith in revelation. Inferences may be true, and I am thankful to receive them as leading to farther examination. In Ephesians it is, "In ages to come we shall show the extraordinary riches of his grace" to others, who will then learn the exceeding riches of His grace. Ephesians is occupied with the glory as displayed. There are certain things down here of which I am not capable. Paul heard things which it was not lawful for a man to utter. But do not let us confine our souls. Do I get nothing? A great deal. I know there are things of which a man is incapable. My soul enters into a state of expectancy. Every word of revelation corresponds with former truth; whereas man's thoughts always lead, sooner or later, from Christ. Whatever the Holy Ghost reveals, He never takes me from the revealed Christ.

It is remarkable the subject Peter was employed to write upon never required him to use the word Son of God, though fully believing and implying it; because his service was to declare that a Man had been raised from the dead, and that glory had been given. This is a just answer to the prayer in Ephesians, "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ;" that is, Jesus Christ looked on as a man — one raised by the power of God. The grand subject and great truth is man raised from the dead, and received to glory. This is founded on God, the Father of glory. It is a question of the glory of the inheritance.

In Ephesians ii. we are seen upon earth "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Now I get the union of Jew and Gentile for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Now what is the prayer? It is that Christ may dwell in their hearts, etc. Here it is not merely inheritance, but state: "To him be glory in the church," etc. Mark here what is said. Men quote this text, leaving out the great truth, "that it is according to his power which worketh in us." What do we find, having unfolded this high calling? what is the exhortation that flows out? Why, that I should be lowly. As Paul says, "" I, as prisoner, beseech you," etc. God necessarily identifies Himself with His own unity in which He dwells. Christ cannot have two bodies.

I find two characters in this place — the bride and children. "Christ loved the church." Whenever I find gifts, they are not for the display of power to the world, but gifts for the edifying of the body. There I get," He* gave himself for us, that he might present unto himself a glorious church." Inasmuch as He presents this church to Himself, it is surely at the commencement of the millennium. And who will be the witnesses? Surely the saints in the millennium. They do not find their place in the bride. What God's intention is about them, that He does reveal. The Holy Ghost snaps everything that is of man, and then brings in something new. The association the Holy Ghost gave the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, "Ye are my crown," differed from that where He speaks about his "sister's son."

[*Not here the mere fact of salvation, but the counsel about the bride.]

The soul can enter into God's presence but by the blood of the Lamb.

As to the Epistle to the Galatians, I cannot see anything further than that they are the children, and have the inheritance, but I see nothing to show that there is a higher glory. What I dread is, saying that because they are sons they are to have all the same glory. I throw out these hints: Paul says, "That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the adoption of sons." It is plain that the saints who lived before the coming of Christ were adopted as sons, though they had not the Spirit of adoption. There is the difficulty, the sons having the glory; the curse taken by Christ, that we should have the adoption of sons. God had been forbearing up to that time.

The subject in the Epistle to the Hebrews is priesthood, not Jew and Gentile in the unity of the church. In Hebrews, properly speaking, it is His official glory. I do not rise to the truth that the Father loved the Son, and gave all things into His hands. No mention of the Father in Hebrews or Revelation. I find promises to Abraham — blessed promises — and accomplished in his Son; but I find no mention of unity with the Father and the Son. I am not carried on to the place John takes me, where it is important we should feel our own place in God's love As to the point in Hebrews, that "without us they should not be made perfect," this is according to the whole Epistle. I do not see the perfection goes beyond the Epistle. Where are we come to? Not the Father, but Mount Zion — spirits of just men made perfect — general assembly — the church of the first-born — but not brought into fellowship with the Father, though I do not doubt this. As regards the place we are set in, it is in heaven.

A brother asked how far the living creatures had the character of the church. It is assumed to be the church because of Rev. 4, 5, where also we get the four heads of creation. I cannot admit this; but that the church, by associating with Christ, may be put ministeringly in that place in a much higher way than the angels. All this rises to the throne, but surely not into fellowship with the Father and the Son. We must not look at them absolutely as the church, though there is intelligence and glory, but relatively the church may fulfil this office in service.

The variety of glory would launch itself in all that Christ is. The Son of man shall come in His own glory, the glory of the Father and the holy angels; He is glorified in the church, also the Man set over all. These are glories which are merely dispensational as Son of David, for instance in Zion, city of God. In Psalm cxxxii. the temple was then far away. He brings up the ark there. "The Lord hath chosen Zion.* This is my rest for ever." Zion became the centre of the earthly dominion. Christ's glory is of a general double character — "First-born from the dead," Head of creation, Head of the church, and all fulness in Him. The church, in that part of the vision, shall see Christ as He is, the secret delight of the Father.

[*He shall be great to the ends of the earth (Micah).]

What was the hidden manna?* That which was laid up as a memorial for Israel to know how God had fed them in the wilderness — a memorial of the ways of grace; and I see none will partake of this but the saint, who has been feeding on the manna that came down from heaven. On such a subject as this we may say, The half has not been told us, as the queen of Sheba did, and the danger is of dragging it down, rather than getting into the height. There are a thousand rays of God, and we cannot enter into all at once. "The Father loved us" is the special place.

[*Eating the hidden manna, interpreted now by the Spirit.]

As to the varieties of glory, I see some subordinate. We turn to Revelation, and see the living creatures and twenty-four elders settled in their places round the throne: God there shines out without veil; and, further, certain persons who praise God day and night. Secondly, some are on the sea of glass — a certain position each set in, which seem to show different places in the glory. I see two things: the work of Christ, whereby we are all brought into common acceptance in Him; but I also find Jesus appointing their places, to some one thing — to some another; for He takes the place of a servant. We must not meddle with God's counsels. Christ says," It is not mine to give." The right and left hand He gives to those for whom it is prepared, to Paul one place, and to Peter another. Also the work of the Spirit of Christ in me prepare. In one ease the talents are given absolutely; in another, the possession according to their ability. One is connected with God's sovereignty, the other with man's responsibility. The talents brought out, in Matthew, exclusively God's sovereignty forming the vessel. In the other Gospel the pounds give responsibility. The twelve apostles are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. I, as a Gentile, have nothing to do with this — it is a special arrangement. Whilst the principles of grace hold, the Lord can say, After all, I do what I will with mine own. As to the hundred and forty-four thousand, I cannot help seeing they are such as are faithful followers of the Lamb, who are not of the church. They are near enough to catch the song of heaven, but are not in heaven; the harvest follows, and those on the sea of glass. Three classes are in Revelation xx. Then begins earth's blessing under the reign of Christ and the glorified; not only of the Jews here below, but the spared of the nations.

"I saw the new Jerusalem descending from heaven," (Rev. xxi. 2). This is the eternal scene. When repeated in verses 10, 11, it is the millennial retrospect; and it is described as "having the glory of God" — His glory put upon the church. There was what it was which came down from heaven, had its character from God. He could not clothe it with less than His own glory in hope of which we boast. The nearer we are, the more humble we shall be. The nations walk in the light of the city; the world will know that we have the same glory as Christ. Holy energies connected with this, but not affections. All this description of the heavenly city is so wonderful as almost to exhaust my mind in contemplating the splendour; but splendour is not rest. I have my mind on the stretch in Revelation — power, service, golden streets; but I do not find what gives my soul rest. It is another class of blessing, a most blessed display, but it is not rest. I find God on the throne, but I do not find the 'trinity; I find the seven Spirits, and Jesus coming forth, but I should say it is altogether dispensational, something that governs and brings blessings on the earth. I have all the intelligence of the throne, and, last, Christ manifested as King of kings. I find all connected with dispensation. but no connection as between Father and Son, as  in John xvii.

In the Gospels we get Christ acting down here — in Acts another part, the last dealings of the Son of God with Israel, while He hangs over them. It is remarkable, in Peter's sermon (Acts iii.), he tells the Jews, "Ye are children of the fathers." There he says, If they repent, Christ will come back.

In the Epistle of Peter* I find the house modeled, sustained, guided; in Revelation the dread of worldliness, and looking into the world, in Jude, warning that all was going down. I see the Holy Ghost sometimes addressing the church about the church, but the converse of this in Daniel. This is a vast difference. Daniel was not a prophet, addressing Israel, but gives a long story about them. The church is the depositary of all.