"We Faint Not."

In these closing days of the church's pilgrimage, who can deny the solemn fact that faintness and weakness, with all their sorrowful results, characterise the saints generally. The prospect might well alarm us, had not the Spirit of God forewarned us of this in the Scriptures, wherein we can always find that which will uplift our hearts in the midst of all the ruin and decay.

How triumphant, and uplifting, are the opening words of the apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 4:1, "Therefore, having this ministry, as we have had mercy shown us, WE FAINT NOT." With Spirit-given power, he had contrasted (2 Cor. 3) the permanent glories of the new covenant with the passing glory of the old, which was to be done away. The new covenant is not of letter, but of spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens — written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart. The new covenant was a ministration of righteousness and life, the old of condemnation and death. As we read the closing verses of this important chapter, we can feel something of the joy that filled the heart of Paul. He had known the terrible bondage under the old covenant (see Gal. 2:4), but he was now in the rich enjoyment of the liberty of the new: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17); liberty that belongs to all the saints of God. When we reach the climax of the comparison of the two covenants, at the end of the chapter, with affectionate desire this devoted servant of the Lord would have all the saints in the enjoyment of the wonderful privilege, "But WE ALL, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed, according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18, New Tr.).

Should not these remarkable words demand our most earnest consideration? How often have we heard them: and how often has their precious message fallen on deaf ears? What unspeakable folly is ours! and what irreparable loss we have in consequence! We often speak of poor Peter's folly on the glory mount, for seeking to place the Lord on the same level as Moses and Elias, while we ourselves are but feebly affected by the wonderful glory that now shines in the face of Jesus. Peter knew not what he said; but are not we often marked by ignorance on account of our unfaithfulness and faint-heartedness? On that mount there was a display of the coming kingdom glory, but it is our privilege to behold that face once marred more than any man's, now radiant with the love and glory of God. We gaze upon His glory as Head of His assembly, and as the First-born among many brethren; and we can join in a note of praise that was not heard on the mount. Honoured as they were, Peter, James, and John, could not then have sung, as we can today:
Yes, we see Thee crowned with glory,
Highest honour to Thee given;
But the glory of Thy Person
Is the light that shines in heaven.

Further, there is a blessed result to our contemplation of our exalted Lord. We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. It is a gradual process which ought to characterise us all the way through, until, at our Lord's coming, we are fully conformed to His image. Another has said "When I see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, it is the very thing I like to look at, because the Man whom I see in the glory, is the One Who bore all my sins. Oh! I delight to look at Him, and this is the way I get Christ graven on my heart by the Holy Ghost." What a lovely example the protomartyr, Stephen affords us (Acts 7:54-60). While the stones are being hurled at him, he looks up and sees the glory of God and Jesus. Like his Master, Who, on the cross, cried "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," he cried "Lord lay not this sin to their charge." Again, the Lord said "Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit," and Stephen says "Lord Jesus receive my spirit." How truly Stephen was changed into Christ's image. May we each know in increasing measure the blessedness of continually looking upon Jesus, for this alone can make us epistles of Christ known and read of all men.

Glorying in this ministry and in its wonderful results in those who, like himself, enjoy the blessings that flow from the contemplation of it, the apostle says at the beginning of chapter 4 "WE FAINT NOT." Deeply conscious of the blessing conferred on him, as one into whose heart had shone the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; and conscious too, that he was a chosen vessel from which this light was to shine forth for the blessing of others, the apostle prepares himself for the fierce conflict, which he knew would assuredly follow his faithful proclamation of the Glad Tidings. "WE FAINT NOT, but have rejected the hidden things of shame, not walking in deceit, nor falsifying the word of God, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every conscience of men before God" (N. Tr.). What circumspection before men! What holy zeal before God! What devotion to his Lord! Are not the things renounced by Paul the characteristic traits of the faithless and the faint-hearted? So that the glory of the Lord Jesus should be set forth in his preaching in all the clearness and brightness of its revelation to him, Paul would have no compromise with evil or evil-doers.

Would to God that the saints now manifested the features and purpose of the apostle. We must not think that the evils to which Paul refers are non-existent in the church today. On every hand there are those who walk in deceit, and concomitantly falsify the word of God. Nor is it enough to profess the path of separation, in these last days, to be immune from walking in deceit. The Scripture clearly shows that it is possible, for those who once stood firm for the truth, to turn aside, through unfaithfulness and faint-heartedness. Beloved saints, let us take our stand by the side of Paul: let us heed his loving appeal — "I entreat you therefore, BE MY IMITATORS." Then with him, we shall with triumph say, "WE FAINT NOT."

When we reach 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 we find such a record of persecutions, sufferings, and trials which would overwhelm the stoutest heart. All the fiery darts of the wicked one, and all the fury and malice of men under his dominion, combined to extinguish the light that shone forth from Paul; but all these subtle and fierce attacks were valiantly withstood, and we get the secret of their discomfiture in verse 7, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassingness of the power may be of God, and not from us." These attacks on the Lord's servant were not intermittent but continuous: no rest, or relief was afforded this zealous herald of the Glad Tidings; "ALWAYS," says Paul, "bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body." There can be no doubt that the life and death of Jesus had made a deep impression on Paul, for in his letter to the saints at Philippi he expresses a deep desire to know HIM, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Phil. 3:10). The apostle knew of the perfect devotion and obedience of the Lord to the will of His God and Father. He knew that the Lord, in subjection to that will, had become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; and he was zealous that his own path might be a copy of his Master's — that the same self-abnegation, the same obedience, the same will-subjection, might, at whatever cost, characterise himself. He knew that he was a chosen vessel for the outshining of the glorious light committed to him, and that any movement or expression of the will of the vessel would only mar the outgoing of the light. One has said, the more the natural man was annihilated, the more was it evident that a power was there which was not of man.

The apostle now adds "We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake." He well knew what martyr sufferings were, but in them he discerned the working of God to produce the blessed result, "that the life of Jesus also might be manifest in our mortal flesh." This was the lot of Paul and his companions in the Gospel, while the saints at Corinth were having the normal life of men.

But what of ourselves, saints of the 20th century? Has Paul no message for us? Are we only to gaze with admiration on the faithfulness and zeal, and triumphs of a devoted soldier of the Lord Jesus, or have we to seek to imitate him? Twice over, in his first epistle to these same believers, Paul expresses the longings of his heart, in these words, "I entreat you, be my imitators;" "be my imitators, even as I also am of Christ." Are these ringing appeals out of date? I verily believe the Spirit of God would have them resound right along through the ages, until they reach the listening ears of saints today; for if their message was necessary in those early days, are they not much more necessary today? We often sing:
Our earthen vessels break,
The world itself grows old.

If they are breaking for the same reason as Paul's, then God be praised. Let them break! for thus shall the precious light shine forth in this dark world. Again in verse 16 we hear the triumphant notes of Paul, "Wherefore WE FAINT NOT; but if indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by day."
R. B. Wilson.


In prayer, it is not the lip it comes from, but the ear it goes to, that is the great thing.
G. V. Wigram.

Looking unto Jesus.

Our love to Him rises to the measure of our enjoyment of His love to us: we can never rise higher than what we see in Him, whether it be love, self-denial, or service. Hence the practical importance of the words, "Looking unto Jesus."
A. Miller.

Divine Music.

It has been said of Paul, "Such as he are chords on which God strikes, and on which He produces wondrous music; but Christ is the music itself."