In offering a few thoughts on these subjects in the Ephesian epistle and elsewhere, I would suggest, as a leading enquiry, whether there are not the unfolding of great purposes and counsels of God, by adoption and calling, as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," prior to the doctrine of "the unity of the Spirit," in the power of which they are kept, and to be kept, by us? Purposes which are, in fact, the occasion for these divine revelations of unity in Godhead-counsel, and in manifestation by Christ, and the Holy Ghost? One might further ask, whether the grand subjects of the heavenly calling, and the vocation wherewith we are called (and in what these consist), do not occupy a prominent place, and in the order of their wonderful relation to "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory," as a necessary prelude to our knowing or walking worthy thereof? If this be so, they should neither be confounded nor separated by us. Indeed, the revelation by God of "the good pleasure of His will," and what He had predestinated us unto by Jesus Christ to Himself, was so marvellous to Paul that he prays for the requisite qualifications to be bestowed, in order that the faithful may know "what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints;" viz., that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, being enlightened in the eyes of your heart, so that ye should know, etc.
No doubt "the hope of his calling," and the vocation wherewith we have been thus called, and the blessings wherewith we have been blessed in the heavenly places in Christ, must be all comprehended (for our present communion and enjoyment in love), and carried out by power in "the unity of the Spirit," according to the purpose which God has purposed in Himself. Nor is there any doubt these will all be manifested in "the exceeding greatness of His power, which He wrought in Christ" when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that to come, and which power is to usward who believe. The sonship in the epistles, and the calling of God, arid our birthright as children of the Father, and our spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, do not primarily stand connected with the great fact of the unity of the Spirit (essential as this is in operation), but with "the good pleasure of God's will," which He hath purposed in Himself.
According "to His will," as believers in Christ, we are called, and have been sealed as sons and heirs of God, and joint-heirs in this unity, by "that Holy Spirit of promise," which is also the earnest of our inheritance. "The vocation" wherewith we are called opens itself out from the depths of the Father's love, and is for the glory of God in all that He has counselled for Himself, and for the glory of His beloved Son from everlasting, and in whom we have part, and portion, and place, according to the riches of His grace. "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him who is the Head," etc. All this blessedness and much more has been thus made known to us by "the spirit of wisdom" and revelation, in which God has now unveiled Himself, and the things which were kept secret before the world was, and declare to us "the will of God" through Christ, and in "the unity of the Spirit."
The glorious incarnation of His Son, and the accomplishment of the work given Him to do below, opened the way by death and resurrection for His triumphant ascension to the right hand above, and to take His place as "the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." Moreover, the revelation of this predeterminate counsel of wisdom and glory, subsisting in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and carried out in this essential oneness and unity by sovereign power, is the comprehensive basis of Christianity. This revelation is likewise formative of the present economy, for faith and hope in "the unity of the Spirit," and for our fellowship in the power of eternal life by Christ Jesus, and they go hand-in-hand together. It also takes its commanding place, as giving the true nature and character to every other glory, in union or unity, to which (as believers in Christ) we may have been predestinated, or called out, by effectual grace from this world, and sealed for the day of eternal redemption. Nor can the will of God, or Christ and the Church, or the unity of the Spirit, be rightly separated from each other.
It was not till the mystery of "the Word made flesh" that manhood and Godhead were gloriously united, and this "Son of man" no longer seen (to be like Adam) a creature outside of God, in mere human and responsible relationship with the Creator, but declared by the Father's voice from the opened heavens, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost like a dove, to be "the beloved Son, in whom God was well pleased." Beyond this, and in His own essential Sonship, He could say of Himself, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;" and again, "I leave the world, and go to the Father." By redemption through His blood we have the forgiveness of our sins, and are accepted in "the beloved One" as sons of God, and heirs and co-heirs with Christ, being united to Him who is raised from the dead by "the glory of the Father," and is crowned with glory and honour, all created things being put under His feet. Marvellous as the first creation was, and as those six-days'-work were, on account of which "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy," yet all was but a type of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and in which (through sin and Satan) the offended glory of God had to find afresh its suited resting-place and everlasting home.
Adam, though created in the likeness of God, was but the image of Him that should come after; and now that the second man - Jesus, the Son of God - has glorified Him upon the earth (in which Adam dishonoured Him), and finished the work that was appointed Him to do, God has given Him a name which is above every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come. The sovereignty, the majesty, the power, and the righteousness of God, which had been so outraged and violated by Satan, have been reinstated and illustrated in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He took His place as man on this earth; and have been further vindicated against every outrage and blot, whether by the devil or mankind, in His sufferings and death upon the cross. All this work had to be done by Him in this ruined creation, before the power of that mighty change could operate, by which "old things should pass away, and all things become new, and all things be of God." Other glories waited till He should come 'who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; who is also the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence; for it pleased that in Him should all the fulness dwell.' The Holy Ghost has been sent down from the Father (to the men whom He has called out of this world) as the only adequate witness of the glory which the Son has entered into, and to assure us that the infinite love and wisdom and power of God have found their delight and satisfaction and outlet, toward us in our vocation, in this exalted One.
God has glorified Him in Himself, and has come forth to glorify Him again, in the presence of angels and principalities and powers; and to form a unity with Himself by the Holy Ghost, of which Christ is the glorified centre and the beginning, having chosen us in Him (and created us according to Himself) that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Moreover, God has predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us "the mystery of His will." Oneness, and union, and unity in Christ were purposed by the Father's good pleasure for His own glory, and the glory of His Son, and the glory of the Holy Ghost, and the Church's glory, from before the foundation of the world; and our vocation is connected with Christ in all this love.
This wondrous unity, in counsel and operation by the Holy Ghost, has Christ (and where Christ now is as our living Head in glory) for its rule and object, and comprehends a new order of persons, born of God, accepted and blessed in the Son of His love, and indwelt by the Spirit of adoption, witnessing to us that we are sons of God. The revelation of His mind, out of which all unity must come, whether past, present, or future, has made known to us, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, that we should be to the praise of His glory, etc. The great "mystery of His will" is surely what this glorious whole is, which God has counselled in Himself, and which waited for its revelation till sin, the flesh, the world, and death, and the grave, and him that had the power of death (that is, the devil), had been each and all overcome and set aside - waited till the power of God's might had displayed itself in its own glory, by raising up Christ into His appointed place at the right hand of the majesty on high. He sits there in His own righteous title as the Son of man, and as the fore-ordained Head and Centre of this "mystery of God and of Christ" in all that was comprehended, and to be yet developed and maintained, as "the hope of His calling," and by "the unity of the Spirit."
Indeed, the first creation itself, with its lord and head, was (as has been said of the first man Adam) a shadow or type of this coming perfection in the power of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, as far as what is of the earth can be, respecting what is heavenly and divine. For even then it was "the Spirit of God" that moved upon the face of the waters in formative power, to create and maintain the oneness, and union, and unity in all its parts and varieties, according to the mind of the Creator, without a disturbing note. How else could it be written, that "God rested on the seventh day from all His work, which He had made; and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it"?
We shall do well to remember that the original creation, in addition to all its wide-spread grandeur and beauty, carried along with it the inner mystery of "the garden which the Lord God planted," and in which He deposited the representative Adam and Eve, as the hidden secret of Christ and the Church. This only came out in its blessed unity and oneness thousands of years after, when the Holy Ghost wrought afresh, in new creation power, to quicken and raise and seat us together in the heavenly places in Christ, and to baptize the members of Christ into this marvellous unity with their Head, and to manifest it for the glory of God in the Church, which is His body. So likewise by the mysterious and typical "sleep," through which Adam passed; and the "rib" which God took out of the man, and from which He made the woman, and brought her to the man, we learn the early lesson, that as they were one flesh so are we the members of Christ, "of His flesh and of His bones."
By this teaching of the Spirit, and in its unity and oneness, we also learn that Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. How precious to know that these paradisiacal symbols and types are of mysteries and things hidden in God from before the foundation of the world for His eternal glory, and which He brought to light with the image man, and builded up in the woman, on the one bright day of an unfallen creation! The Lord God deposited these mysteries of His will in the garden, which He planted with its rivers and trees, and where He walked in the cool of the day, before sin and Satan entered. He also took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, as His representative, in dominion and lordship, to dress it and to keep it. He shared (yea, formed part) in this unbroken oneness, and intercourse, and unity of creation, in which the heavens and the earth rejoiced, because God saw all that He had made was very good; and God rested from all His works, and was refreshed.
But "the good pleasure of His will, which He had purposed in Himself," lay back long before the world was, and could not bear witness to an earthly paradise as the place of His rest, in which to dwell and fill with His own glory. No; nor to Adam, its lord and head, though created in the likeness of God (yet outside Him), and upon whose allegiance and obedience the well-being of a creation depended. The "planted garden," with its mystic man and woman in flesh and blood, by which God wrought so wondrously, were only the proof of some" better thing to come." The garden served its purpose, and was then closed for another epoch, like the majesty, and glory, and kingdom of the Son of man afterwards, were folded up for a better day, at the Holy mount. These early types of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and lastly of the power and coming of Christ as Lord and King, are still laid up in the future for creation, and Israel, and the Church, and kingdom.
In the meanwhile (by the law from Sinai and in government) God changed His place too, and suited Himself to a fallen creation, by means of a typical eighth day and circumcision in the flesh; and has given out promises and covenants to chosen men, with whom He entered into relationship; and devised patterns of things in the heavens suited to sinful creatures, dwelling with them in a tent and in a tabernacle in the wilderness, and gathering them in tribes round Himself as the Israel of God, or else in a temple, as the sign of a future union and rest in Canaan. Moses as the mediator, and Aaron as their high priest, were sent forth by God to teach the people of Jehovah's choice how He might be approached and worshipped; but at the door of the outer court as yet, and only through burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin. The cherubims which stood at the garden-gate with the flaming sword, that turned everywhere in righteous judgment (to keep the way of the tree of life), gladly changed their place, and suited themselves to these new patterns given out from the glory above, and took their appointed stand on "the golden mercy-seat," over which they bent themselves, and spread their wings in holy adoration.
The Spirit of God as aforetime, when the heavens and the earth were to be created, does not hesitate to come forth into the ruins now that the nobler work of its redemption and worship, round this new centre, is about to be introduced, though only as yet by patterns - in shittim-wood, and fine gold, and silver, and purple, and fine-twined linen. Not a man upon the earth could construct the types and shadows of the things to come, which God had commanded Moses to make, "that He might dwell" amongst them. So the Lord called by name Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, and filled him with "the Spirit of God" in wisdom and knowledge and understanding to devise cunning works, and in cutting of stones to set them for "the garments of glory and beauty," which were to be worn by the high priest in the midst of the commonwealth of Israel, and of a worshipping people on "the great day of atonement." Outside the sanctuary, and in connection with the throne in Jerusalem and the kingly power of David and Solomon, another centre of earthly blessing was formed, and the Ark accompanied them in all their history, as the witness of this glory. He abideth faithful, and in their declension connects Himself, as the Spirit of prophecy, with the fall and with the rising again of Israel, by the encouraging assurance, "My Spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not." This same Spirit framed the last words of the anointed of the God of Jacob and the sweet psalmist of Israel, when he sang, "He who ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth." It is of all importance (in the subjects we are considering) to observe and mark the willing concurrence of "the Spirit of God" as in union with the promises and ways of Jehovah, whether in the wilderness or in the land of Canaan, by kings and by the long line of Israel's prophets, who, in their turn, took up the psalmist's song of the coming One, and the morning "without a cloud," to complete their history. This their ministry came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved "by the Holy Ghost." But we need not pursue these actings of the Spirit of God in old time any further, as showing "the unity of the Spirit" in carrying out the counsels and the power of God for blessing in the midst of creation and Israel. Their national glory and beauty, like the paradisiacal figures and mysteries of "the good pleasure of His will," which God purposed in Himself, are amongst His choicest treasures still, and kept in reserve till the time came for God to send forth His Son.
The synoptic gospels begin at this epoch and with this event, and Luke especially shows us the same Spirit of God which moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis, or as the Spirit of prophecy in the Psalms of David, doing a far greater work in this present unity of purpose and calling of God, out of the moral chaos, and from a ruined creation and its sinful inhabitants. We find ourselves at the end of Bezaleel's workmanship, and of Moses and Aaron's ministry, and of that economy which consisted in the cunning devices and patterns, by which they wrought so marvellously "in shittim-wood, overlaid with pure gold within and without." The hour is come for the representative and elect men and women of this present gospel period, to be called out and be filled with the Holy Ghost; to take their places as the chosen vessels for the introduction of "the great mystery of God manifest in the flesh." The Spirit of God, as the "power of the highest," acts afresh over and above this world of sin and death, and forms the hearts of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, for their suited services in this regeneration, and Zacharias for his prophetic outburst of praise. Besides these, the arch-angel Gabriel from above is bearer of the glad tidings to an expectant world; and the multitude of the heavenly host welcome by their songs of glory to God in the highest, the Son born. Patterns of things to come are gone, and the shadows flee away before the substance - Christ Himself. Simeon comes in as a new priest of the sanctuary, and, moved by the Holy Ghost, takes possession of the temple as God's appointed centre of blessing for this earth, and brings the glory back again. He begins a new beginning with the young child in his arms, and celebrates the glad tidings of the name of Jesus as the Saviour of the world. Nor should Anna the prophetess, who served God with fastings and prayers night and day, be omitted in this elect group gathered out to the confession of the Lord and the Immanuel, God with us, as the witnesses to this "new thing in the earth;" for she it was who spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel. The fulness of time was come, and the Seed of the woman is given out unto the world, to whom all promise and prophecy pointed, even Jesus, the Son of God; "a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel," and ordained for salvation to the ends of the earth.
The Spirit of God which began with the chaotic darkness, and opened a material creation for the first Adam in the image of God, does not hesitate to begin and maintain "this calling and election of God," now that another order of divine workmanship is to be set up in "the second Adam," according to that blessed prophecy - "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;" "a body hast Thou prepared me." The beginning of another creation, with its inaugurations and celebrations according to "the will of God," and in "the unity of the Spirit," is proclaimed in the heavens above to the earth beneath by the introduction of the God-man, our Kinsman-Redeemer and Substitute - "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." He has obtained eternal redemption for us from the fall - by His death and victorious resurrection. By such unknown ways and untrodden steps as these the mighty Conqueror triumphed over sin and death, by the judgment of God upon sin at His cross, and then descended into the lower parts of the earth for other purposes of glory, and to destroy him that had the power of death; that is, the devil. In this unity of divine counsel, and under this anointing, He who descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens that He might fill all things. He has led captivity captive, and all power has been given to Him in the heavens above and the earth beneath - given to Him who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Another and a new man is before God as "the bringer in of righteousness" upon this earth, who could say, after the wilderness temptations, "Get thee hence, Satan!" and, when going back to His Father, "The Prince of this world cometh, but hath nothing in me" - One whose meat and drink it was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name that is named, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Blessed be God who has made this Christ to be unto us "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, that he who glorieth . . . should glory in the Lord."
Blessed, unspeakably blessed, to know that instead of an Adam made out of the ground as the centre of a material unity, the Son of God has come down from above, "being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person," to glorify God upon this earth, even He who upholdeth all things by the Word of His power, and who, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Precious too for us that we know and rejoice in the Man of God's purpose and calling - the One who was in God's counsels from everlasting, brought up with Him, and "the Man whom He had made strong for Himself;" precious it is to see that models, types, and figure-men have been all carried out into their antitype, and substantiated in the Person who could alone embody them in His life and death, and finally, in Himself by resurrection and ascension, make all "the promises of God to be Yea and Amen," and bud and blossom, and bring forth their fruits to the glory of God by us, and for the blessing of every creature. Besides this "Yea and Amen" for the delight of God by Him who is the fruitful vine, there was a giant work waiting Him below as to sin itself, and putting away "the sin of the world," which in its glorious results has yet to be wrought out before the universe of God, so that the leprosy of sin shall be expelled.
Who is he that can be charged with a mission of this kind, and whence does He come, and what is His name? Another gospel (than the synoptic ones) will answer these great questions. The next day John seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." This testimony to Jesus, in His sacrificial title as "the Lamb of God," has this groaning creation for its object, and all that groans with it, on account of sin. The Spirit as the dove identified Himself as a witness to Jesus in His manhood, when Jehovah "called His son out of Egypt," to begin His earthly relations with men. It is in this unity, the Spirit in John's gospel bears witness also to Jesus in His Godhead, and reveals His heavenly relations with "His own," and declares the Father. The descending Spirit likewise bears testimony to this other great mission of Jesus - "The same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost," as essential to the formation of another and divine economy. The Lord takes this fore-appointed place for Himself when risen from the dead, as in Acts 1, and said to His disciples, "John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence." Moreover, this unity of the Spirit at Pentecost comes in another character and power to this separated company, on whom Jesus had breathed in John 20. The Lord, "being assembled together with them" (after His passion), commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, "but wait for the promise of the Father, which," said He, "ye have heard of me." We may be sure that the Holy Ghost, by His presence and actings, as sent down from the Father and the Son, in connection with the Lord's departure from this world, and being received up into heaven, will equal, if not exceed, His preparation of the elect vessels at the time of His incarnation. And so it was; for when the day of Pentecost was fully come" they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance;" and great wonders and miracles were wrought by the hands of the apostles, and great grace was upon them all. What is this but another and a heaven-born Genesis, and the beginning of a new creation in Holy Ghost power and unity, and established in the Christ of God "according to the good pleasure" of the Father's will?
If "the God of glory appeared to Abraham," and made him the head of the family of faith upon the introduction of earthly promise and blessing by means of circumcision and an eighth-day, what less can Christianity be than the unfolding and establishment of every secret purpose and counsel of the Father from everlasting, for His own glory, in the Son of His love, by the power of His resurrection and the baptism of the Holy Ghost? A revelation from God as He is could not possibly have anyone less than God for its object, and in its efficiency of blessing and blessedness to others, contemplates the Godhead in the fulness of divine operation. The centre of Christianity is Himself, and in the Person of the Son, whom no one knows but the Father; and yet as "the Christ of God" He is the central object for human faith, seen and heard, yea, handled and felt. His Godhead was so veiled in manhood as to make Himself a home with us, and so close to us every day as to ask, "Who touched me?" Yes, so one with us and so like, as to say, "Behold, my hands and my feet, that it is I myself." Intimacies such as these, according to humanity, yet so precious to the heart of Jesus, and the faith of those around Him, were fast closing up. Other times and scenes were opening out, and new relations with Himself about to be revealed in a risen Christ and Lord on high; so that in John 20 Jesus saith to Mary, "Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father." Another order and rule is proclaimed by Paul for this "heavenly calling of God," and embraced in "the unity of the Spirit," suited to the position of the glorified Man above; viz., "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more."
Concurrent with this new order, as in Christ, and the bestowment of the Holy Ghost, Jesus said to Mary, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." At the mount of Transfiguration, Jesus, as the promised seed, had won the crown and the kingdom of Israel back again for Himself by His righteous obedience before God, and by victorious power over Satan in life; and then for Himself and the elect, by purchase and redemption through death, and which He still maintains in royal title by His resurrection. He was then taken up out of the midst of that expectant company, and a cloud received Him out of' their sight. In principle "old things are passed away, and all things are become new;" for man in the person of the Christ has gone up to God, and is in a new and heavenly glory, where man never was before. In that place He is the Head over all things, principalities and powers being made subject unto Him. Moreover, in these rights and titles that same Jesus is to come a second time, and fill the whole earth with the glory of God. In that day of millennial peace and blessing "Jerusalem shall be called by a new name, and be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of her God."
In the meanwhile the Pentecostal Spirit, like a rushing mighty wind, descended to begin His new work "of gathering together" (in one) "the children of God that were scattered abroad." He filled the house where the elect vessels were sitting, and rested on them as by cloven tongues of fire; moreover, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as a sign and testimony to the world, which wondered at such a visitation. Zacharias and Elizabeth, and Mary and Simeon, together with the multitude of the heavenly host (in the former treatise by Luke), were appointed for the introduction of the child when born in Bethlehem; but under this baptism of the Holy Ghost, these witnesses are one with the rejected Messiah, and in union with the ascended Lord, and endued with power for this testimony to Jerusalem, and to the uttermost parts of the earth by His glorious resurrection from among the dead. Men in union with Christ, men in this unity of the Spirit, men in the adoption and not of this world, men filled with the Holy Ghost, were necessary as the fit examples (in this second treatise) to the glorified Head over all things for "the good pleasure of His will" - men whose citizenship is in heaven, from whence also they look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come and change even their bodies into the likeness of His own glorious body, according to the power whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself.
Nor is He who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost, and those who are Christ's, to be separated from Himself, or from "the unity of the Spirit," of which He is the centre; for sealing by the Holy Ghost is as truly connected with our salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ, as is our membership with Christ, as Head of His body - the Church. We are baptized by this same Spirit into one body, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. It is Paul who was set apart to declare the mystery of Christ, and of the body in its relation to Christ as Head. He had been caught up into the third heaven to be instructed in "the mysteries of God," and to hear unspeakable things, and who, because of the abundance of the revelations, came back with a thorn in the flesh, lest he should be exalted above measure. John's qualifications were derived from the bosom of the Lord whereon he lay, and his subjects were the Father's love, and the Father's house, and the Bride as the Lamb's wife, as well as the reciprocal love of the family, maintained in the power of life in Christ by "this baptism of the Holy Ghost." "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." "He that hath the Son hath life;" and as Christ is, so are we in this world, is our boast and glory. Beyond this we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. Perfect in this union of life in Christ by the Spirit, and of living relationship with the Father and the Son, it imparts to us its character, and rules our expectations - "He that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself even as He is pure." Blessed surely it is to see a new-born company presented to the world by Paul as "an epistle of Christ," known and read of all men; and equally blessed to find the family under the baptism of the Spirit dwelling together in unity, even as Jesus has loved us, and given Himself for us. The beloved disciple writes, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." It is through this same grace of Christ that Paul says, "None of us liveth to himself, or dieth to himself; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's." The "one thing needful" for light and testimony may vary in different dispensations, though each may be perfect in its time and season. For instance, David in his one desire to dwell in the temple of the Lord all the days of his life, or Mary and Martha in the company of Jesus in their house, or Paul in pressing onward to Christ in the glory. However encouraging to us these variations and measures may be, because so suited to our own state, and by men and women of like experience with ourselves, yet one gladly turns from all to Him who has put His comeliness upon us, and whose glory it was to say, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do . . . these doeth the Son likewise."
It was in this same comprehensive and united circle, and with holy men of old in their "times and seasons," that the Holy Ghost had long wrought, and tarried for "the eighth day power," and "the circumcision of Christ," that He might come forth in a new character as the rushing mighty wind - come forth to act in unity with the Father and the Son in Pentecostal power, and bear testimony by the newly-baptized apostles of Christ to Christ, and open out the things that were given Him to do for the glory of God, and for His own glory as the Son, and the glory of the Church as His body, and the Bride of the Lamb. The millennial union and glory of Israel and the Gentiles, and the blessing of every creature, as well as the deliverance of creation from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, waits in a yet further hope of the day when "the Son of man shall come back in His glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels," and sit on the throne of His glory. In the midst of such promises and counsels in the unity of the Spirit, and by the will of God, as are thus made known, and to be displayed in such spheres and scenes as these, both in heaven, and in the heaven of heavens, and in this earth, the Son, in the glory of God will come forth. The unction of the Holy One, and the anointing which we have received, or else the baptism and outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh, will each and all find their new and happy fulfilments and ministrations when that which is perfect is come, and all that is in part shall be done away.
The good confession before Pilate which Jesus made, when challenged as to His royal rights and kingdom glory (as well of His mission against the usurpation and lie of Satan) is of great account in these scriptures. It corresponds also with the Baptist's earlier testimony to our Lord's titles, and mission, and sealing by the Spirit, as "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world," adding, "The same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." Pilate said, "Art thou a King then? And Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King; but now is my kingdom not from hence, else would my servants fight that I should not be delivered up to the Jews." Another object of this confession lay in "the mystery of God's will;" viz., "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, to bear witness of the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." In like manner the Spirit of God writes, in 1 John 3:8, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil;" and another blessing precedes this in verse 5, "We know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." Another and a blessed result of these grand purposes flows forth to us in the statement, "Who is He that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" But beyond these victories over sin, and the devil, and the world, yea, and because of them, is the last great personal assurance in this epistle - "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding to know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." Well may the Spirit in this unity add, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols;" for all outside this leads to idolatry, or is an idol.
These various quotations from one and another of the apostles show that purposes of blessing now and hereafter originate, and are perpetuated, in the good pleasure of God's will, before the world was. They have been carried out through "the Son of His love" in this world, before angels and principalities in the heavenly places, and substantiated by His finished work on the cross for our faith and walk before God and men through the Holy Ghost. The truth becomes vital in us as the temples of God by the indwelling Spirit, and is a power by which to fix our affections on the things above (not on things upon the earth), where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
In conclusion we may ask, With what glory could "the Father of glory" glorify His only-begotten Son (who prayed to Him for it in John 17) but with His own glory? And if the same question were asked as regards "the mystery of Christ," and of Christ and the Church as His body and His bride, the same answer must be repeated; viz., "With His own glory." Indeed, it is according to this glory of glories, with the Father and the Son - like "the holy of holies" aforetime - that the Holy Ghost forms the grand doxology for the Church in this chapter as being in this comprehensive and blessed "unity of the Spirit," and "according to the good pleasure of His will," which this epistle reveals: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church in Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
Practically we learn that the scope of the Holy Ghost's testimony, and the range of His operations, are always in keeping with the will and mind of God at any given period or dispensation, and therefore limited or extended by the suited disclosure which He makes of Himself, whether it be to Enoch, who walked with Him before the flood; or to Abraham as the friend of God in the world that now is; or since by the Son of the bosom, who came to declare and reveal the Father. The lawgiver instructed Israel in these disclosures by the ways and acts of Jehovah in their midst, and even exceeded all previous examples by writing, in Deut. 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the Lord: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." Solomon, in his book of Proverbs, surpasses Moses and the Decalogue by affirming, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing." The communication of His mind aforetime by prophets and holy men was necessarily in a certain unity of the Spirit, inasmuch as they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless all these previous and partial ministries become proofs of "the mystery of His will," provided and kept in reserve for the subsequent and final revelation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in Godhead unity (and yet in the distinctness of divine operation), to which they all pointed "that they without ns should not be made perfect." For this they wait, and according to the character of their respective calling and hope of blessing till Christ shall come a second time, and His people be willing in the day of His power.
"The good pleasure" of His will (which has been the subject of our meditations), as the divine source of all blessing and blessedness, reproduces itself by the unity of the Spirit in us; as it is written, "It is God who worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure." So likewise is it the main spring in us for the endurance of every adverse influence, arising from ourselves or from others - "Do all things without murmurings or disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." Indeed, we may ask ourselves, What else could "the good pleasure" of the Father's will work out in us (below or above) whom He has sealed by the Spirit in this unity, but that we should be like the beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, both now and hereafter? Exhortations to walk worthy of the vocation, "with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love," are founded on these moral glories of Christ, and flow from His fulness as their source of supply; for He was this. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, casts us likewise on His unfailing love; for "unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." What a dignity attaches to the vocation wherewith we are called, whether viewed individually as in union with Christ, or as members of Christ, who is the Head of all principality and power, or as Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all!
"And is it so? I shall be like Thy Son,
Is this the grace which He for me has won?
Father of glory, thought beyond all thought,
In glory, to His own blest likeness brought
"Nor I alone, Thy loved ones all, complete
In glory round Thee there with joy shall meet,
All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
Object supreme of all, by all adored."
J. E. B.