Remnant Features.

In these last days it surely behoves us to cling tenaciously to the word of God, and to search therein for the divine principles that will carry us on to the end in the path of the will of God. At the end of every dispensation there is departure from God's will, and human wisdom displaces the commandments of God. The book of Malachi reveals a remnant, seeking to maintain in moral suitability that which is of God. While bringing home to them their grave departure, God assures the people of His love for them, saying, "I have loved you." Malachi 1:2. When they return answer to God, "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" He reminds them of what He had done to Esau, the man after the flesh.

Such was the condition of the priests that the Lord charges them with despising His Name, by offering polluted bread upon His altar, by saying "The table of the Lord is contemptible;" Malachi 1:7  and in offering the blind, the lame, and the sick in sacrifice. None would close the doors of the Lord's house, or kindle the fire upon His altar, for naught; so that it is not to be wondered at that He declared that He found no pleasure in them. Spite of all this God will honour His Name, and there is coming a day when from the rising until the setting of the sun, His Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place, incense and a pure offering shall be offered to His Name.

Yet in Israel there was a remnant that loved the Lord and feared Him. The remnant possessed the features which so pleased the Lord, and which He recalls as having formerly marked Levi. How beautiful the language used by the Lord to bespeak His delight in the piety once marking His chosen priests! "My covenant was with him of life and peace … the law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity and did turn many away from iniquity." Such are the moral characteristics of those who walk in love and in communion with God.

Judah was united to the world in an unholy alliance; and the people wearied the Lord with their words, saying that the Lord delighted in those practising evil; and doubting the concern of the God of judgment. God was robbed of His tithes and offerings; the words of the people were stout against the Lord; the proud were called happy, and evildoers were exalted. It was in the midst of such gross departure from the path of God's will that the little remnant was found. This remnant was marked by the fear of the Lord, and by speaking one to another, as thinking upon His Name.

The Name upon which the remnant thought was the Name the priests despised; the Name that will yet be great among the Gentiles. That Name has indeed covered itself with glory; every moral beauty shines forth in it; and its glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Of the company concerned with His Name, the Lord says, "They shall be mine … in that day when I make up my jewels." Jewels are precious, and each shines forth with its own peculiar reflection of the glory of the sun. What a day that shall be, when the saints display the brightness of the glory of Christ, each in the heavenly lustre which praises the workmanship of God.

Another dark day was that recorded in Luke 1, when few were found in the fear of the Lord. Yet there were some in whom the work of God was manifest; to whom the word of God was precious; and who waited patiently and faithfully for the coming of the Lord. To such the revelation of God was given. Although the house of David was evidently in poor circumstances, there were hearts like Mary's ready to respond to the divine communications. Mary had found favour with God, and the angel communicated to her the wonderful tidings that she was the vessel, chosen of God, to conceive and bring forth the child Jesus, Who was to be great, and to be called the Son of the Highest, the Son of God. To these amazing unfoldings, Mary, in the pious simplicity of faith says, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word." In Luke 2 the work of God in the hearts of Simeon and Anna is revealed, even as it had been in the hearts of Zacharias and Elizabeth a little while before. Of Zacharias and his wife it is recorded, "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Simeon is marked as "just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him;" while Anna is a prophetess, "which departed not from the temple, hut served God with fastings and prayers night and day." These beautiful features are similar to those marking the remnant in the days of Malachi.

The simple obedience to the commandments of God found in the parents of John the Baptist; the simplicity of faith displayed by Mary; the devotion and patience seen in Simeon; and the prayerfulness and intelligent conversation of Anna, are features that mark the company walking in the fear of the Lord for His pleasure. Simeon's heart is filled with satisfaction at the sight of Jesus, and his lips pour forth a rich tribute of praise in the power of the Spirit of God by Whom he had come into the temple. Seeing in the child the salvation of God, he is ready to depart; as he rests in Him Who will assuredly give effect to the purpose and counsel of God, and bring everything back to God for His eternal joy and pleasure. Anna is attracted and attached to the house of God; she was interested only in the interests of God; so that when the King suddenly comes to His temple, she finds Him there; and is therefore able to speak of Him to all who looked for redemption in Israel. Do we really admire and covet the beautiful features seen in this devoted little remnant? If these are the traits that give pleasure to God, we do well to seek them!

The close of the greatest dispensation fast approaches; the dispensation in which there has been unfolded all the counsel of God. The truth of the Headship of Christ and all connected with it, the circle of the Father's affections, and other precious revelations have been given to us; and we have the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enjoy in power these wonderful things. But it is a day of declension and ruin, when the knowledge of these great truths is being lost. If we desire to be for God in the midst of the ruin, we shall find His instructions for us in His word. The Philadelphians in Revelation 3:8-10, show us the features of the company which has Christ's approval. They have a little strength, keep His word, and do not deny His Name. A little strength surely tells that they have not a great public place before the eye of the world, but on the contrary they walk in obscurity under the eye of The Holy and The True. Keeping His word, they walk in simple obedience to His commandments, valuing all the great truths given to the saints in this dispensation, and ordering their walk and ways in the light of them. They do not deny the Name of the Holy and the True, but seek to maintain all His interests in moral suitability to it; allowing nothing unholy and nothing untrue to attach itself to what belongs to Him. Moreover, they keep the word of His patience; suffering with Him in the place of reproach and dishonour, awaiting the day when He shall come, to have their happiness and part along with Him.

Beloved reader, these precious traits, gathered from the remnants of God's devoted saints, are surely written for our instruction and encouragement, that we might with them order our lives in these last days for the pleasure and glory of God. Robert Duncanson.