Scripture Notes

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892.

p. 26.

I.

Luke 9:34.

It is scarcely doubtful that the fear of the disciples is in reference to Moses and Elias entering the cloud. Grammatically it is plain; and there is nothing in the sense, we judge, against this interpretation. This is peculiar to Luke, as he unfolds in this particular what answers to the Father's house. Altogether it is a wonderful scene. Jesus transfigured; or, as it is in this gospel, "His countenance became different," and as so changed He is seen as the centre of the glory of the kingdom. Moses and Elias — the one having died, the other having been "caught up" without dying — are associated with Him in the glory; while the disciples, the saints on earth, behold the displayed glory of Christ, and of those with Him. The cloud — the Shekinah — the symbol, as ever in the past, of God's presence, His dwelling‑place, so to speak, overshadowed the disciples, but Moses and Elias entered into it — at home in the presence of God. In days of old, Jehovah spake to Moses out of the cloud, now both he and Elias have the liberty and privilege of entrance into the place where God dwelt. It is there, moreover, they enjoy communion with the Father concerning His beloved Son; for it was out of the cloud the voice came, "This is my beloved Son: hear Him." This voice was for the instruction of the disciples (of the saints for ever), correcting the folly of Peter in desiring to build his three tabernacles, and so putting Moses and Elias on a level with their Lord. Thereby the absolute and supreme authority of Christ over His own, and here especially in the kingdom, is established once and for all. Into the manifold instructions, however, and applications of this scripture, we must leave the reader to enter for himself, having answered the question on verse 34. One profitable lesson may, perhaps, be indicated. It is only as we dwell in the Father's house — and this is our blessed privilege even now — that we can share in the Father's delight in His beloved Son. It is the scene, in fact, where fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, is to be enjoyed.

II.

2 Cor. 10:5.

"Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" does not refer, as the context plainly shows, to the apostle's own thoughts, but rather to those of his adversaries, who were seeking at Corinth to corrupt the truth of Christianity. There were two forms of opposition with which the apostle had to contend: first, that springing from Judaizing teachers; and, secondly, that connected with philosophy — both of which were alike antagonistic to the truth. (See Col. 2.) It is to the latter, we apprehend, the apostle chiefly alludes in this scripture. His opponents, taking advantage of his absence, had sought to undermine his authority and influence, and had insinuated, among other things, that he "walked according to the flesh." (v. 2.) To this he replied by saying, "Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after [according to] the flesh." There is the widest difference possible between walking "in" the flesh, that is, in the body (compare Galatians 2:20), and "according to" the flesh, for this latter would mean to be governed by it. The apostle gives the reason for his distinction. "The weapons of our warfare," he says, "are not carnal [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" — seats of the enemy's power, like Jericho of old in its typical significance. He then avows the object of his warfare, which was to cast down "imaginations," the "reasonings," as the word is, of man's corrupt mind, in short, philosophy; and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, as man's intellect and fancied wisdom are ever doing, looking down with scarce concealed pity on those who receive the revelation God has been pleased to make in His word; and lastly, in his holy warfare, bringing into captivity every thought, from whatever quarter it may come, every activity of man's mind, to the obedience of Christ. Whether reasonings, high things, or thoughts — all alike are regarded as opposed to the knowledge of God, and hostile to Christ; and Paul, as a true soldier, sought to overcome them all, to reduce them into captivity to the authority of Christ. Not that any of these could serve Christ — that would be impossible; but his aim was to compel them by force and power, with his mighty weapons, to acknowledge the supremacy of his Lord and Master, and to place them as helpless captives at His feet.

p. 81.

I.

1 Samuel 25:31; Luke 23:42, 43.

A very striking parallel may be drawn between Abigail and the malefactor. Abigail's prayer is, "When the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord" — that is, when David should sit upon the throne of Israel­ "then remember thine handmaid." The malefactor prayed, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." David answered the petition of Abigail at once, and accepted her person, and, immediately on the death of Nabal, espoused her as his wife; thus making her his companion in rejection, while waiting for the kingdom. In like manner the Lord went far beyond the expectation of the crucified thief, and said, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Hereafter he should share in the glory of the kingdom, would be, indeed, one of the countless multitude who will be displayed in glory with our blessed Lord at His appearing and kingdom; but meanwhile the Lord would have him with Himself in Paradise, where he would wait with Christ for the time which his soul had desired. In both cases, therefore, the response to the prayer went far beyond the requests. And such is grace — divine grace — which loves to go beyond our desires, and to bless according to the heart of the Giver rather than according to the expressed need. As an illustration of the way in which Paul had comprehended this truth, it may be noticed that he prayed that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would grant to the Ephesian saints, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, etc. What an encouragement to open our mouths wide in prayer!

*Daniel means "God's judge"; Hananiah, "whom Jehovah graciously gave"; Mishael, "who (is) as God"; and Azariah, "whom Jehovah aids."

II.

John 15:5.

It is, of course, true that we can do nothing "without" Christ; but taking the sentence in this way by itself it scarcely conveys the force of the Lord's words. The context makes all plain: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." So in the previous verse: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." If a branch, therefore, is severed from the tree, it is necessarily fruitless; and, in like manner, if a believer does not abide in Christ, is spiritually disconnected from Him, he will bear no fruit. No doubt the Lord here distinguishes absolutely two classes; those who abide in Him, as those who are really in vital connection with Himself; and those who abide not in Him, as in verse 6, as those who, without life, are only connected with Him by profession. Still it is permissible to point out that even a really converted soul will be fruitless unless found abiding in Christ. What abiding in Him signifies may be gathered from the comparison He employs. A branch is absolutely dependent on the vine, and lives of the vine's life. It is the sap that flows out from the vine into the branch that causes it to bear fruit. So also a believer is fruitful when he is in the maintenance of entire dependence upon Christ, and when He is living of His life, when Christ in him, as his life, flows out through him in his daily walk and ways in service and testimony. If, therefore, anything comes between Christ and his soul, interrupts his dependence, and he is thus "without"* Christ, he can do nothing.

*In his French version, J. N. D. translates, "Séparés de moi."

III.

1 Peter 2:4, 5.

The question as to whether "coming" to Christ, in verse 4, refers to our first coming to Him as the Saviour, can be best answered by a consideration of the context, and of the character of the truth presented in the passage. The words, "to whom coming," follow, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious," and this connection supposes, we judge, that those who "come" already know the Lord. And then it is to be observed that the "coming" is not to Him as Saviour, or as Lord, but to Him as a foundation, a Living Stone, as the foundation of the spiritual house which is composed of those who have become "living stones" through faith in Him, the Son of the living God, who, as risen out of death in the power of resurrection, is the rock on which, according to His word to Peter, He builds His church. (Matthew 16:16‑18.) In support of this interpretation, the meaning of the word "coming" may be remarked. It is the word often used in the Hebrews (see, for example, Heb. 4:18; Heb. 7:25, etc.), and signifies "approach." It is quite true that it is only by contact with Him who is a living stone, that believers become living stones; only it must be remembered that the apostle is presenting to those, who had once been Jews what is now God's house, and who are now God's priests, in contrast with the temple and the priests of a dispensation which had for Christians for ever passed away. This explains the reason of Peter's solitary allusion to the church in the aspect of the house; and it shows, at the same time, the vast importance of understanding the truth of our being living stones, and what it is to be built up on Him who is the Living Stone, "a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

p. 109.

I.

Psalm 37:3‑6.

Whatever the differences in the translation of this scripture the meaning is but little affected. It is scarcely to be questioned that verse 3 should be rendered as follows: "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on faithfulness." The Revised Version has "follow after faithfulness," but their alternative rendering in the margin shows that the translators had no foundation for the idea of "following," and hence that they were seeking to expound rather than to translate. If the context is studied, the wonderful appropriateness of the word "feed" will at once be discovered. The application of the Psalm is to the remnant in the last days (see vv. 9, 11, 22, 29, etc.; and and especially compare v. 11 with Matt.5:5); and the exhortations in verses 1, 7, 8 are given for the encouragement of the feeble few who, in the time of Jacob's trouble, will be surrounded by evil of every kind. To the outward eye the wicked and the persecutors are in prosperity, and work out their own will without let or hindrance. The temptation therefore would be to flee, to seek an asylum outside of the borders of the land where evil was, to all appearances, triumphant. No, says the Spirit of God, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on faithfulness" — on God's faithfulness, in the assurance that He would not forget His tried and oppressed people; and that He would in His own time deal with their oppressors. (See vv. 12‑15, 17-22.) We would also do well to remember this injunction when cast down on account of the prevalence of corruption and evil. Then there is another question as to the connection between verses 3 and 4. In our translation verse 4 is a separate, even if consequent, exhortation. Some take it as immediately connected with verse 3, in this way: "Feed on faithfulness, and delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." There is no doubt that the one that "pastures upon" the faithfulness of God will soon come to delight himself in the Lord, and that then his inmost desires or petitions will be granted; for when the Lord Himself is the object before us, and when He is enshrined in our affections, His own desires are produced in our souls. Taken either way, as it stands in our Bibles, or as now suggested, verse 4 contains most blessed instruction. It is also thought that a similar intimate connection exists between verses 5, 6. If indeed a comma be substituted for the full-stop at the end of verse 5, this is at once apparent. The way of this persecuted remnant might seem to be hemmed in, hedged up, on every hand, and what is to be their resource? To commit it to, to "roll it off" upon, the Lord, and trust in Him. Leave it all in His hands; for "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way." Trust in Him, and He will bring it to pass; and He will also vindicate His oppressed people before the very eyes of their enemies: "He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." Well might the Psalmist proceed, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;" for, as we learn from all the dealings of God with His saints, they that put their trust in Him will never be confounded. We may thus at all times, in all trials and difficulties, simply trust, and simply rest!

II.

Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:21.

It is not without significance that the word translated in the first of these two scriptures as "conformed" is not found elsewhere, except in Philippians. In Romans we are said to be predestinated by God to be "conformed" to the image of His Son; that is, plainly, to the image of His Son as glorified at His own right hand as Man, because, it adds, "that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." We are thus introduced to the full result of the counsels of God. The first man having been for ever set aside in judgment by the cross, Christ, as risen and glorified, is, as the second Man, the Head and Pattern of a new race, to whom all the redeemed will be conformed; and amongst the redeemed, as His brethren, He will be throughout eternity the Firstborn. In Philippians it is a question of the body. The apostle speaks of the bodies which we now have as bodies of humiliation, witnesses as they are of the consequences of sin, both in present suffering, and as being mortal and corruptible. But when the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall come, He will change, or transform, our body of humiliation into conformity with, or so that it will be conformed to, His body of glory. His glorified body is thus the model of the glorified bodies of all His people. The first scripture includes more than the second, pointing to the blessed truth John speaks of; that when we see Him "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." Another form of the word is found also in Philippians 3, rendered there, "being made conformable to His death," as Stephen was, for example, inasmuch as like Christ he died as a martyr; for it is only in this aspect of the death of Christ that it is possible for any of His servants to be made con­formable to it. Nowhere else in the New Testament is this word used. The Spirit of God has reserved it for these cases, and He thereby teaches us the singular and wonderful character of the grace of God, which has displayed the prospect before our eyes of being conformed to the image of His Son, and of our mortal bodies being changed so as to be conformed to the glorified body of Christ. The effect of this prospect on the soul of Paul was thus expressed: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto" (or, if in any way I might arrive at) "the resurrection of" (or, from among) "the dead." May the same effect be produced on our souls!

p. 137.

I.

Hebrews 10:22.

If the reference in the expression, "Our bodies washed with pure water," is to the washing of the priests at their consecration (Ex. 29:4), the teaching of this passage is very simple and significant. Washing with water is a symbol for the application of the word in the power of the Holy Ghost, bringing in death upon the natural man and his thoughts, and producing what is wholly new, according to God. The result is the new birth, or rather to be born of God. This conclusion is sustained by the fact that when our blessed Lord says, in John 13, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet," He uses the same word as in this scripture. The heart "sprinkled from an evil conscience" speaks of the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, which, when known through faith, as based upon God's testimony, gives no more conscience of sins. These two things together — being born of God, and "no more conscience of sins" — form the absolute qualification of a worshipper. No one who is without these has any title to enter into the presence of God. But this scripture speaks of another thing, viz., of a practical condition corresponding with the qualification or title. Hence the apostle says, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." A true heart is one that has been fully exposed in the light of God's presence, one therefore that has no reserves from God, no concealments, and nothing consciously left unjudged; and "full assurance of faith" is the rest of soul which follows upon confidence in God's grace and love. It is indeed only as we are established in grace that we can possess the true heart; for the more we know of grace, the more open-hearted our confession, and the more thorough our self-judgment. The instruction of the whole passage is, that if we would enjoy the liberty and power of worshipping in the Holiest, our moral condition must correspond with our title. We may really be born of God, and may know that God does not impute guilt to the believer, and yet we may not be able to draw near because we lack the true heart and full assurance of faith.

II.

1 John 1:7.

It is continually asked whether "walking in the light" is expressive of our standing, or of our practical condition. Because of the word "walk," it is supposed by many that it must refer to the believer's daily walk. Two or three considerations, drawn from the passage and its context, will elicit its true significance. It is evident then, in the first place, that "walking in darkness" in verse 6 is an absolute contrast with walking in the light in verse 7; and that both expressions flow from the declaration in verse 5, "that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." Bearing this in mind, it will be at once seen that "walking in the light" covers all who are introduced into the sphere of the revelation of what God is in Christ; that it includes therefore, in other words, all Christians; and hence that "walking in darkness" comprises all who are outside this sphere — all who are unconverted, all who do not possess eternal life. It must ever be remembered that for John there are only two spheres — light and darkness; just as we read in the gospel, — "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." It should be remarked, moreover, that it is "walking in the light" "as He (God) is in the light;" not according to the light, which would indicate our practical walk, but "in the light as He is in the light," which cannot mean other than the circle or sphere in which God in His nature, His holiness, is absolutely revealed. All therefore are either in the light or in the darkness. Why, then, it may be enquired, is the word "walk" employed? Because it is never supposed in Scripture that the practical condition of the believer will be otherwise than in accordance with his standing. The greatest possible damage is done to souls in insisting upon standing irrespective of state; and, therefore, if John speaks of our walking in the light as God is the light, he assumes that we shall live, and move, and have our being in this circle. The following words will explain this still further: "It is not 'if we walk according to the light' that is the practical consequence in this world, even when we are not directly enjoying communion, but we walk in the light when we walk with God fully revealed to soul and conscience. It is a real thing in life, we walk, but [it is] more than walking according to light. It is a walking in the presence of a fully-revealed God, the conscience, and spiritual judgment, and apprehension being in the light as He is — what God is, perfectly seen, and everything by it, and all clear as it is in light and for the soul. If we walk thus with God inwardly, all is judged inwardly, and our life is only the expression of the working of God in power in the life which we have of Him, of Christ in us (wisdom and power)."* It is also in this sphere, and only there, that Christian fellowship is enjoyed. This is readily understood, because outside of it is darkness — where God is not. Lastly, we are reminded of the foundation of this blessedness, the abiding efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, which cleanseth from all sin, from the defilement of every sin, and which has thus made it possible for us to be in the light, as God is in the light, in peace, confidence, and liberty. It is, therefore, no question here of the application of the blood, but simply one of its perfect and abiding efficacy. To speak of the continuous application of the blood, as is often done, is to miss the teaching of this scripture, and to contradict some of the plainest statements of the Word, as, for example, in Hebrews 10:1-18. But after unfolding to us the wondrous place in the light into which we are brought before God, and the truth that it is only in that circle we can have fellowship one with another, it is very blessed to be reminded of the source of the cleansing, which enables us to occupy our place.

*Notes and Comments, part xix., p. 270.

p. 163.

I.

Job 2:3.

The last clause of this scripture refers to the fact that Satan is the accuser before God of His people. There is another intimation of this anti-priestly activity of Satan in the Old Testament. When Joshua the high priest was standing before the angel of the Lord, Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him. (Zech. 3:1.) Our Lord also reveals to Peter that Satan desired to have him and his fellow-disciples that he might sift them as wheat (Luke 22: 31); and we learn from the book of Revelation that he will carry on his wicked work of accusation until a loud voice in heaven is heard to say, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10.) When therefore Jehovah says to Satan concerning Job, "He holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause," He alludes to Satan's accusations against His servant. To understand this malicious activity of Satan two things must be remembered. Through the efficacy of the work of Christ, through His death and resurrection, the people of God have a perfect standing, and hence, as to this, God can righteously say that He does not behold iniquity in Jacob, nor see perverseness in Israel. But, secondly, it is true that, notwithstanding this perfect standing and acceptance, God's people often fall into sin. It is this fact which constitutes the basis of Satan's accusation. Thus in the scripture which speaks of his resisting Joshua the high priest, the latter, as representing the remnant, is said to be clothed with filthy garments, for in truth this was the practical condition of Israel at that moment. The question raised by Satan then was, How could God righteously favour a people so defiled? The answer was, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Grace had wrought, had chosen Jerusalem, plucked it, on the ground of the sacrifice, out of the fire of judgment, and it could therefore cause Joshua's iniquity to pass from him, and clothe him with a change of raiment. It should be added that Satan is never allowed to touch a child of God, as in the cases of Job and Peter, unless there is some hidden evil unjudged. Thus in Job there was confidence in his own integrity and righteousness; in Peter there was confidence in his own affection for the Lord. The sifting of Satan did but bring this to light, and thus lead to self-judgment. While therefore his object was to destroy, he, being in the hands of God, did but unwittingly become the instrument of blessing to their souls. If Satan therefore seeks to move God to destroy his people, and if he obtains permission to do his worst upon them, the only effect is, as with Job, to prepare them for fuller blessing. On the other hand, if we assiduously practise self-judgment in the presence of God, Satan will never be allowed to sift us.

II.

Romans 10:4.

Apart from preconceived opinions the force of this scripture is readily perceived. It means exactly what it says, as may be easily gathered from the context, that Christ is the end, or termination, of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; that is, He has for ever done away with it as a means of righteousness before God. It is quite true that the word "end" has sometimes the significance of "object," or the end in view, as for example in James: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord" — the end of the Lord in His dealings with His servant, bringing out the fact that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But the word is used in the former sense in Romans; inasmuch as the contrast drawn in the preceding verses is between God's righteousness, to which the Jew would not submit, and human righteousness, which he was vainly seeking to work out through the law. And then, after the statement that Christ had set aside the law as the means of righteousness, the apostle proceeds to show that righteousness which is on the principle of faith has superseded the principle of law which is expressed in the words, "The man which doeth those things shall live by them." It need scarcely be added, that no one ever succeeded in obtaining righteousness by works (Rom. 3:19, 20), for by the law came the knowledge of sin. (Rom. 7:7.) It was the perfect standard of God's requirement from man in the flesh, but the application of it only served to bring out the evil of man's heart. (Rom. 5:20.) It should also be understood, that even if a perfect human righteousness could be obtained it would not now avail. The glory of God is now the absolute standard (Rom. 3:23), and nothing short of God's righteousness is sufficient to meet it. Hence the apostle says in another place that God hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made (become) the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21.) What unspeakable grace therefore that we become the possessors of the righteousness of God, not by works, but by faith! Who would not then desire, with the apostle, to "be found in Him [Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9.)

III.

Romans 15:12, 13.

It sometimes happens that the connection of a scripture is obscured in a translation. It is so in thiscase. The last clause of verse 12 should be rendered, "In Him shall the Gentiles hope." Then, as based upon this, the apostle prays, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." But this will be better understood if attention is given to the whole paragraph. In verses 8, 9, Paul points out the difference of the ground on which the Jews and Gentiles originally stood, arising from the fact that God had made promises to the Jew, but not to the Gentile. He therefore says that "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises [made] unto the fathers." The presentation of Christ indeed to the Jews was in pursuance of the promises as to the Messiah given through the prophets. It is therefore, we apprehend, during His earthly sojourn that Christ was a "minister of the circumcision"; for after He was rejected and crucified, the Jew must, if saved, come in like the Gentiles, on the ground of mercy. (See Romans 11:31, 32.) While however there were no promises to the Gentiles, there were prophetic intimations that they would be brought in to share in the grace of the gospel; and the apostle cites, in proof of this, scriptures from the law (Deut.), the Psalms, and the prophets (Isaiah). But brought in, they would have to "glorify God for His mercy," as they had been lost sinners, and destitute of all claim. Mercy and truth thus met together (Psalm 85:10) in Christ, in His death on the cross, and the foundation was thereby laid on the ground of which God could righteously save both Jews and Gentiles. His truth had been vindicated in sending His beloved Son into the world, and in presenting Him to the Jews as their Messiah, and His mercy has been exhibited in setting forth Jesus as a propitiation through faith in His blood for the salvation of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, justifying them freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Now, it is in connection with the quotation from Isaiah (v. 12) that the word hope is introduced; and this, as we have seen, gives occasion to the prayer in verse 13. The apostle speaks of the God of hope, a large and significant expression; for it is He alone that can produce hope in the hearts of any, even as He Himself is the alone object of hope in accomplishing all the blessing which He has purposed for the Gentiles. And it is the apostle's desire that the saints should be in a practical condition answering to the object of their hope; and hence he prays that the God of hope would fill them with all joy and peace in believing, that they might abound in hope in the power of the Holy Ghost. The expressions should be noted, "Filled with all joy," etc., and this manifestly the apostle regards as the saints' normal condition. True it is only in the power of an ungrieved Spirit that the effect of this will be seen, abounding in hope; but the maintenance through watchfulness and self-judgment of the Spirit ungrieved within us, is the requisite of all apprehension and growth in the Christian life. It is well to read such scriptures, and to enquire as we read them whether we in any measure possess the blessings of which they speak.

p. 193.

I.

Col. 1:18.

The expression, "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence," refers to the two spheres of the glory of Christ, of which mention has just been made; viz., creation and the assembly; and it simply means that it is God's purpose that Christ should have the "first place," the absolute supremacy, in both. The proper glory of the person of Christ, or rather of the Son, is the special subject of this epistle; and, in addition, His acquired glory through His death and resurrection is unfolded. Thus the moment the apostle touches redemption in the words, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins," he proceeds to say, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (or, "before all creation"). And we learn that He takes the pre-eminence in creation (He who was "before all things," eternally existent as the Son) on the ground of being Himself the Creator. If all things, whatever their degree or glory, were created by Him and for Him, and if all things subsist in Him, by the very rights of His own person He must have the place of supremacy in all the circles of created existences. But there is another sphere — a sphere outside of creation — which has been revealed in connection with the counsels of God in redemption; viz., that of the assembly, as the body of Christ. Of this we learn that He is head. For if God has brought the first man, Adam, to his judicial end in the cross, Christ in resurrection is the "beginning," God's commencement of His new order in the person of the Second Man. It is true that He was the Second Man in incarnation, but He was not in the condition of the Second Man until he was risen and glorified; and hence it is that He, as glorified, is presented as the model to which all the redeemed are to be conformed. He is, moreover, "the beginning" as the "firstborn from the dead"; and it is as such also that He has become the Head of the body, the church, of which believers have been, through grace, made members in virtue of the indwelling Spirit. In this circle also Christ must therefore be necessarily supreme; and happy is it for us when we practically and habitually acknowledge His pre-eminence in "all things." The following remarks may be further helpful: "One of these pre-eminences depends on His divine rights as Creator, the other on His work and on the power displayed in His humanity in the act of resurrection. He holds all as Man and all by divine glory; but in some sort it may be said that one part of His glory depends on His divinity, the other on His victory as Man."

II.

Matthew 7:13, 14.

While the main subject of the Lord's discourse on the mount pertains to the kingdom (see Matt. 5:3, 10, 19, 20, etc.), much of it, and indeed all its moral principles, will abide for all time. Thus the "strait gate" and the "broad" way are true of every dispensation — up to the reign of Christ during the thousand years. For man being what he is, alienated from God, is ever in opposition to the truth, to God's testimony however presented. The terrors of the law, as well as the attractions of grace, only serve him for an occasion to find fault with, and to condemn, the messenger. (Luke 7:31-34.) The consequences are twofold; first, the mass travel in the broad road (for all the influences of this world favour the enmity of their own hearts), which leadeth to destruction; and, secondly, the few who are wrought upon by the grace of God, and have their eyes opened to their state and need, find that both the gate, and "the way" which leadeth unto life, are strait and narrow. Repentance and faith constitute the entrance (the gate), and God's will, the Lord Himself indeed, is the way of life. Every Christian should know that the closer he keeps to Christ, the more faithfully he treads in His footsteps, the narrower is his path; whereas the multitude, following only the bent of their own desires and inclinations, roam and wander without restriction. Bearing this in mind, it is easy to interpret the Lord's figurative language.

III.

Romans 14:20; 1 Cor. 8:10, 11.

Both of these scriptures present the same truth, and bring out in a very striking way the solemn responsibility of guarding the consciences of our brethren. It is impossible, as we all know, to "destroy" a child of God, for none can pluck even the feeblest out of His hands. On our side, however, we may, by our conduct, do our best to destroy a saint, and we might even succeed in doing so, were it not for the preventing and sustaining grace of God as the fruit of His faithful and unchanging love. Hence, when the apostle says, "For meat destroy not the work of God," he speaks of what has been aptly termed "the bearing of the act," i.e., the tendency of our action is to cause, as said in Corinthians, our weak brother to perish, one for whom Christ died. And the addition of the last clause shows out, in the most forcible manner, the character of indifference to the peril of a weak believer. Christ died for him in order to save him, whereas one who would act, as here described, because of his superior knowledge, would, for the sake of maintaining his own liberty, exhibit the most culpable carelessness of his brother's eternal welfare. It may be added, not as interpretation, but as offering a further consideration, that, while we cannot cause a brother to perish, we may destroy him morally, and consequently his testimony in this world. Both passages are, with the context, very instructive, and their teaching should be much heeded in the mixed state of things in which we are found.

p. 219.

I.

2 Cor. 4:10-12.

The question whether the "we" in this scripture refers only to the apostles or to all Christians is plainly answered by verse 12. The whole chapter, in fact, concerns the apostolic ministry, and the various experiences through which God brought His servants, in order that only Christ might flow out from them, both in life and service. Hence it is that Paul says, "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you." (vv. 11, 12.) It was thus the application of death to all that Paul was, that nothing of himself might be expressed in his ministry, that he might preach not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and himself the servant of the saints, for Jesus' sake. (v. 5.) It was with this object in view that the Lord suffered him to be troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, that, while sustaining His servant under all these trials, He might roll in death upon him in all these manifold forms. Paul understood the end of the Lord in his tribulations, and he could thus say, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (v. 10.)

Such is the exact interpretation, of this scripture; only it has to be added, that in principle it is applicable to believers generally. In other words, while this chapter treats primarily of the service and experience of the apostle, it is yet true that God deals with all His people in a similar manner, seeking to bring death in upon them in different ways, in order that Christ might be manifested through their bodies in this world. He uses for this purpose all our sorrows, disappointments, and tribulations; acting in His wisdom through our circumstances to break down our wills, to repress what is of man, of the flesh and nature, that Christ may be unhinderedly expressed. God produces in this way His most perfect music out of broken instruments. In 2 Cor. 5:1 the "we" does include all believers, because the apostle there passes over into the sphere of common Christian knowledge. The subject thus introduced — the resurrection body — makes this abundantly evident. The word translated in verse 10 (2 Cor. 4:10) "the dying" of the Lord Jesus, is undoubtedly peculiar, and is sometimes more accurately rendered, "putting to death." The reason for the use of this word here can be easily discerned. That to which death has to be morally applied in the believer is never actually dead, and hence the need of its constant application, always bearing it about in the body. "Putting to death" brings this thought into prominence, reminding us that unless all that we are is unceasingly kept under the power of death the manifestation of the life of Jesus will be obscured. Altogether the truth conveyed in this scripture is of the utmost importance, and cannot be neglected, if we desire, like the apostle, to cherish the earnest expectation and hope that Christ may be magnified in our bodies, while we are sojourning in this world.

II.

John 17:26.

The fundamental characteristic of John's gospel is the revelation of the Father in and through His beloved Son. (See John 1:18, John 8:19, John 14:9, 10.) In this scripture, therefore, in these closing words of the Lord's address to the Father, He says, "I have declared" (made known) "unto them Thy name." The presentation of the Father in Himself had been complete; and yet He adds, "and will declare it," referring, doubtless, to the ministry of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth (John 14:26, John 16:13, 15), not as in any way supplementing the revelation already made, but rather as enabling His own to apprehend what had been manifested, and thus to have it made good in their souls. For, as we are taught in other scriptures, the Father cannot be really known, nor relationship with Him enjoyed, except by the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom. 8:15, 16.) The object of the declaration of the Father's name, as here given, is, "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Not only were His disciples, after they had apprehended the revelation of the Father's name, to know that they were the objects of the Father's heart, but His love, in the full measure in which it was enjoyed by the Son Himself, when here in this world, should also be in them, and in them because He, the Son, would be in them. As we read in chapter 14, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20.) He in us will bring in, according to the truth of this gospel, when He is rightly known, the revelation of the Father, and He becomes therefore the channel through which the Father's love — "the love wherewith Thou hast loved me" — flows into our souls for our present portion and enjoyment, while waiting for our translation to the Father's house.

III.

Matthew 25:1-13.

In the consideration of this scripture, it is above all necessary to point out the place it occupies. The whole passage from Matthew 24:31 to 25:30 is parenthetical, and gives the state of things that will spring up during the Lord's absence, and how He will deal with it on His return. We have thus, first, the servants who are entrusted with the care of the household, and with whom He will deal, "when He cometh," according to their conduct. Next, we find the ten virgins, introduced as a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom; and lastly, we have the comparison of "a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods," to use for their Master until He should come back, and take account of their stewardship. It is not the church, as will be noted, in any one of the three cases. The first gives rather the servant in the special aspect — answering to pastors and teachers; the second will include all profession, for it is "the kingdom of heaven"; and the third will likewise indicate all who profess to own Christ as Lord, but in the aspect of stewards. The goal to which the first and third classes look, placed as they are under responsibility to their absent Lord, is His appearing. In the second — the virgins — it is otherwise; the words at the end of v. 13, "wherein the Son of man cometh," should, according to the best authorities, be omitted. To those who know the true hope of the church, this will occasion no surprise, for, as they have learnt from other scriptures, the coming of Christ as Bridegroom is when He returns for His people, and hence before He comes with them. Entering into the significance of these statements, the parable of the virgins is not difficult to interpret. The character in which Christ is represented as returning is, then, the first thing to observe. In the next place it should be remarked that the ten virgins "went forth" to meet the Bridegroom. This the Jewish remnant who will be found on earth after the church is gone will never do. They will never be exhorted indeed to go forth without the camp unto Christ, bearing His reproach. Note also, that all ten virgins are alike in respect of having taken their lamps, and this fact justifies the observation already made, that under these ten virgins all professors are embraced; and it is clearly taught in the epistles that professors, equally with true Christians, are on the ground of waiting for Christ. This position is bound up with the confession of the name of Christ as Lord. The figure of virgins sets forth the moral character suited to those who profess to have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom: it speaks of purity, freedom from defilement or contamination from things around. On the Bridegroom's side, it is affection; on the virgins, the suited character for the One who has made them the object of His heart. The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is absolute, as shown by the fact that the latter "took no oil with them," and could not obtain any before the Bridegroom came. The wise, as well as the foolish, had "slumbered and slept," while the Bridegroom tarried; only when the cry was raised, "Behold the Bridegroom . . . . go ye out to meet Him," they possessed the oil wherewith to trim their lamps; and thus being ready, through grace, they "went in with Him to the marriage." The foolish, on the other hand, lacking the essential qualification, the oil, never having been born of God, and never having received the Holy Ghost, could not prepare themselves, and were consequently, notwithstanding their entreaties, for ever excluded from the Bridegroom's presence and feast. That the parable is so constructed as to have a wider bearing than on the present period of grace is quite possible, but that its true significance for Christendom is, that those who have not obtained the "oil" before the return of our blessed Lord will for ever be shut out from His blessed presence, we cannot for one moment doubt. For all who are in this solemn position, professing the name of Christ, and yet unregenerate, the day of grace will be for ever closed when the Bridegroom cometh. Hence the importance of the concluding lesson, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour."

p. 250.

I.

1 Corinthians 7:31.

It is only here and in 1 Cor. 9:18 that the word translated "abuse" is found. It is one legitimate rendering of its classical use, but one which, when the Christian's relationship to the world, as well as the apostle's argument, is understood, could not possibly be accepted. It is much to be feared that a great deal of worldliness has been allowed under the cover of this mistake. Another meaning, given even in the dictionaries, is far more appropriate here; viz., "to do what one likes with" a thing, or "to exercise absolute power over." The Christian is in the world, but not of it; and, as the apostle reminds us, "The fashion of this world passeth away." We neither belong to the world, nor does it belong to us; and our time in it is short, for we are waiting for the Lord to return to take us out of it, and to have us for ever with Himself. As strangers therefore, in this transitory scene, we are not to use the world as something we possess, "disposing of it as our own" property, but only as far as it may be necessary to us while existent in the midst of it, or as it is needed by us as the Lord's servants. In chapter 9 the apostle uses the word in quite another connection. Speaking of the necessity laid upon him to preach the gospel, he says, "What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." To give the words of another, "The apostle, as sent of the Lord, had a right to be supported; but he did not use this right. It would not have been an abuse (had he done so); but he did not use it for himself, as a thing he possessed. He weighed the effect as to Christ's glory." He did not thus use the right as belonging to himself, only as it affected his service, and for the glory of his Master. These two examples make the force of the word very plain, and entirely set aside the construction which many attempt to put upon it in chapter 7, that we may use the world as much as we will, as long as we do so in moderation.

II.

1 Chronicles 18:1, 2.

It is in the connection, we apprehend, that the significance of this scripture lies; and the lesson taught is, that spiritual power ever follows upon communion with the mind of God. In chapter 17 David had desired to build a house for the Lord; but while the thought of his heart was acceptable to God, he was not permitted to proceed with his purpose. In the touching communication he received from the Lord, through Nathan the prophet, the future of his house, and throne, and of God's kingdom on earth (see v. 14) was unfolded. The effect was to produce in David's heart God's own thoughts and desires; and he "came and sat before the Lord," and after thanksgiving and praise he poured out the desires, thus begotten, in prayer and supplication. (vv. 23‑27.) It is a striking illustration of the prayer of communion of which our Lord speaks, when He says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7.) Right with God, possessed by His thoughts, in communion with His mind, David could go forth in spiritual power for conflict. Hence it says, "Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them," etc. Saul, it will be remembered, while he could smite the Ammonites and the Amalekites, was ever afraid of, powerless before, the Philistines, the enemies of God's people, within their own territory. In the light of our scripture this is at once understood. Saul never had the Lord's mind, and consequently was weak and unarmed. It is the assurance of being in the Lord's mind and path that gives courage (see Joshua 1); and David, having now this assurance, went forth conquering and to conquer. No foe could stand before him as long as he was kept in this condition of soul. Surely there is most forcible instruction in all this for every servant of the Lord. Want of power in dealing with souls, in rescuing them from Satan's snares, and for their restoration, as well as lack of power in preaching the Word and in prayer, may all be traced back to being out of communion with the mind of God.

p. 281.

I.

1 John 2:24, 25,

If there is reference in the words, "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning," to 1 John 1:1, 2, the meaning of what follows becomes apparent. "That which we have seen and heard" (1 John 1: 3), was "that which was from the beginning"; and this, says the apostle, "declare we unto you"; and now he adds in our scripture, "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain [abide] in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." Combining this with chapter 1:1‑3, we learn that receiving what the apostles declared was the means of introducing into fellowship with them, and that their fellowship was with the Father and with the Son; and, further, that if what they had heard from the beginning through the apostles should abide in them, they should abide in the Son and in the Father. But what is abiding in the Son and in the Father? The answer is given in verse 25: "And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." For the consequence of abiding in the Son and in the Father is fellowship (1 John 1:3), and fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, is the enjoyment of eternal life. The point is so important that it may be illustrated from chapter 6 of John's gospel. In verse 54 we read, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life," etc., that is, the one who continually feeds upon the death of Christ, accepting thus God's judgment in the cross of Christ upon all that man is, appropriating it by faith, identifying himself with, and in this way becoming morally assimilated to it, is the one who has, possesses, enjoys, eternal life. Another thing is found in verse 56. There it is, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth [abideth] in me, and I in him." Now to abide in Christ imports the maintenance of absolute dependence on Him and living of His life. (See John 15:4‑6.) But if Christ is my life, if by feeding continuously on His death I refuse my own life, and He lives in and through me, I am necessarily in communion with Him; His thoughts, desires, objects, interests, and joys are mine — I am lost in Him, and I am thus brought, inasmuch as He is the revealer of the Father, into the blessed circle of fellowship with the Son and with the Father. Thus, we cite the words again to show the connection, "this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." We will not pursue the subject further in this "note," although, if further questions or objections reach us, we will gladly, if the Lord will, recur to it.

II.

John 17:11, 20‑23. (The Three Unities.)

Both instruction and blessing may be found in the perusal of, and meditation on, the following remarks upon the above scriptures. "We have, first, the absolute and essential unity of the Father and the Son, which makes them One in all that they are essentially, and [in] what flows from it. Then, mutuality of being in one another, the source and object of joy and blessing in an ineffable way. Thirdly, display — the Father in the Son. (Compare John 14.) To the first answers the whole absorbed mind and action of the disciples in the power of the Holy Ghost; to the second, that into which all were brought by the Holy Ghost; to the third, the perfect display of glory in all the saints­ Christ (in whom the Father was) in them, and here no difference — all appear loved as (kathos) Christ was loved."

p. 306.

I.

Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7.

As a general principle it may be said, before considering this citation from Hosea, that a believer of any dispensation should be the expression of God as revealed in that dispensation. For example, the standard for a Jewish saint was Jehovah as made known in that economy, whereas the standard for a Christian is God as revealed in Christ. (See Eph. 5:1‑13, Col. 3:10‑13.) To bear this in mind will aid in the understanding of the prophet's words. Both Ephraim and Judah (Hosea 5, 6) had sadly corrupted themselves, and yet at the same time they would seem to have been punctilious in the observance of their sacrificial ceremonies, as if attention to outward forms could commend them to God's favour. "Therefore," says the prophet, speaking in Jehovah's name, "have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth . . . for I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:5, 6.) That is, character and state — the character and state produced by the knowledge of Jehovah as a God of mercy — were of more avail before God than outward observances, these last being utterly valueless unless they were the indication of a spiritual condition. (Compare Micah 6:6‑8.) Turning now to Matthew's Gospel, it is very interesting to note the Lord's application of this Scripture. The Pharisees condemned Him for eating with publicans and sinners. In vindicating His action, the Lord convicted them of ignorance of the heart of God. "Go ye," He said, "and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Priding themselves upon being the people of God, the objects of His exclusive favour, and the guardians of His word, the Lord shows that they had utterly misconceived the character of the God in whom they boasted; that they had read in vain the many scriptures which contained the pre‑intimations of His grace and mercy toward poor sinners, and consequently that in their self-righteousness they were utterly misrepresenting God. In chapter 12 the application of the Scripture, while bringing out the same truth, is slightly different. Here the Pharisees, in their censorious spirit, condemned the disciples for plucking the ears of corn upon the Sabbath day. After citing examples from the Scriptures which should have opened their eyes to perceive the claims of the One whom they had presumed to assail, and should have convinced them of their unscriptural folly, the Lord added, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." The point here again is that the hearts of these censors of the disciples were in utter contrariety to the heart of God. Cased in their self‑righteousness, not a ray of God's blessed mercy or grace had ever penetrated their souls, and hence they judged everyone round about them by their own thoughts instead of by the thoughts of God. Alas! how easy it is for ourselves, who live in the full light of the day of grace, to fall into the same mistake, and to forget that we are called to be the exponents of God's heart of grace in the midst of His professing people, and before an evil world.

II.

Matthew 18 15‑17.

A question is put as to whether this scripture has a present application. The answer is found, we judge, in the fact of the introduction of the church in Matthew 16:18. At the close of Matthew 12, the Lord in figure breaks His links with Israel after the flesh; in Matthew 13 the sower goes forth to sow, and the result is the kingdom of heaven presented in several aspects; in Matthew 14 the actual work of rejection commences with the execution of John the Baptist; in Matthew 15 Christ passes judgment morally upon the heads of the Jewish nation; and this is followed, before the display of the glory of the kingdom in Matthew 17, by the revelation to Peter of the truth of the Person of Christ, and the announcement — "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." In these words the Lord views the church in its perfection, from, as we might say, the divine side; and consequently the term "My church" must not be narrowed, as it includes every believer of this period, from Pentecost on to the Lord's coming. Coming now to Matthew 18, the word "church," the same as in Matthew 16, has yet its own significance, as may be seen from the direction, "Tell it unto the church." To explain this, it may be recalled that the Lord often used language which could only be fully understood after the gift of the Holy Ghost. So here; and when we examine the epistles we find that a local gathering of saints is also called the church (see among many other passages, Romans 16:4, 5, 16), and that such local gatherings are regarded as expressions of the whole church of God on earth. With this apostolic instruction we have no hesitation in interpreting "church," in Matt. 18:17, as a local assembly to which discipline is entrusted to be exercised in the Lord's name by the power of the Holy Ghost. But it is enquired, if the Lord had not, when using these words, the millennial congregation in contemplation? Admitting to the full the dispensational character of this gospel, that the primary application of divine words does not exhaust their meaning, and that divine principles abide through all dispensations, we cannot doubt, speaking for ourselves, that the instruction which our blessed Lord here gives belongs above all to the church period. It is further asked, however, if Col. 3:13 does not supersede the teaching of Matt. 18:15‑17, and also that of Luke 17:3, 4. Examining the last passage named, we find that the forgiveness of a brother's sinning against us is to be unlimited, but that the pronunciation of the forgiveness is to be made on confession, on his saying, "I repent." Turning to Colossians, we shall see that it is quite another aspect of the subject: "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel ["complaint"] against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Here there is not a word, as will be at once seen, of confession or of the bestowment of forgiveness; in fact,. the passage deals entirely with the state of soul which should be cherished by us when we have matters of complaint against our brethren. It teaches, in other words, that however our brother may sin against us, we are always to hold him in our souls as forgiven. Luke goes further, and shows that it is on confession we are to express our forgiveness; and hence it is by the combination of the two scriptures we get the full truth of the subject. In support of this interpretation, it may be added, that what is enjoined on us is a transcript of God's own conduct towards us when we fall into sin. His heart never changes towards His people, but it is only on confession of their sins that they receive forgiveness. (1 John 1:9.) What has been said on Matt. 18:15‑17 will also afford the key for the interpretation of verses 18‑20; but we hope to return to this on another occasion.

p. 331.

I.

1 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 22:3.

The words "serve" in these scriptures are entirely different. In the first it signifies to serve as bondsmen or slaves, because the will of God had now become the only law of the lives of these believers. In the second scripture it means rather to serve as worshippers; and hence the same word is used frequently in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the priestly service in the tabernacle (see Heb. 8:5; Heb. 13:10, etc.), and generally also of the worshippers (Heb. 9:9; Heb. 10:2, etc.) The contrast indicated is strikingly shown in Heb. 9:14, where "to serve the living God," almost the very phrase found in 1 Thess. 1, will mean to serve as worshippers, and not, as there, to serve as bondsmen. The reason of the difference is that, while in Thessalonians the absolute claims of God upon believers are intended to be conveyed, in Hebrews it is a question of access; of the enjoyment of the privilege of approach into the holiest. Thus in our lives in this world we are not our own, we are God's servants, bondsmen; but when it becomes a question of coming into His presence, then we are worshippers. Consequently when it says, in Revelation 22, His servants ("bondsmen") shall serve Him, it is as worshippers they serve, inasmuch as they are in His immediate presence, for they see His face. The variations in the use of the word are very interesting, but, generally speaking, the distinction mentioned is always maintained. There are two other words for service in the New Testament. One of these is often rendered "ministry." (See Rom. 12:7; 1 Peter 4:11.) It is this word which the blessed Lord uses of Himself, when He says of the servants ("bondsmen") whom He shall find watching on His return, "Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." The term "deacons" comes from this word, and Paul uses this form of it of himself and Apollos in 1 Cor. 3:5. In the usage of this word there seems to be the general thought of ministering on behalf of Christ to the needs of others, whether through the word, or in any other way. As applied to Himself in Luke 12, it evidently is ministering to the joy of His people in glory, and this confirms what has been said. There is yet another word, and one accurately distinguished from bondsmen in John 18:18, where we read "servants" ("bondsmen") and officers. This term Paul also uses of Apollos and himself in 1 Cor. 4:1; and it is also employed when John is spoken of as being tainister to Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 13:5.) There is perhaps the thought of office and official duties embodied in this word. We need not further pursue the subject, as enough has been said to show how amply it repays the diligent reader of the Bible to search into its minutest details. There are mines of gold in almost every page, which, if explored under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will enrich the devout investigator for all eternity.

II.

Galatians 6:6.

The meaning of this scripture lies on the surface, when once the significance of the term "communicate" is apprehended. Two examples of its use will suffice. In Romans 12:13 it is found in the exhortation — "distributing to the necessity of saints"; and in 1 Timothy 6:18, it appears under the form of "willing to communicate." These examples render its interpretation very easy in Gal. 6:6, as the reader will at once perceive if he carefully study their context. What the apostle enjoins is, then, that the one who is taught in the word should share his "good things" with the teacher; that is, in other words, that the taught should exercise the privilege of ministering to the temporal needs of the teacher. The apostle affirms the same principle, in another aspect, when he says, "If the Gentiles have been made partakers of their [the Jewish saints] spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things." (Rom. 15:27.) It is for the reader, not for the writer, to say whether the obligation is widely acknowledged.

III.

1 Peter 4:10, 11.

A very complete presentation of the character of all true service is found in this scripture. Its various features may be briefly indicated. We learn, first, that "the gift" is received from God, and consequently that His people are as stewards responsible to Him for its use. Grace bestows the gift, and the exercise of it is to be an expression of grace. It should be remarked in this connection that the gifts of which Peter speaks are more general than those which Christ, as the ascended Head, "gave . . . unto men." (Ephesians 4:8‑11.) This may be seen from verse 10, and it seems to point to the fact that all believers, as in Romans 12:4‑8, have some special function, some distinct place to fill, or some service to be rendered. Then, secondly, passing by for the moment the first example given, the "ability," or rather the strength, for the service is also divinely given. Human energy and natural abilities have therefore no place in the Lord's service nor in any thing to which we are called of God. Thirdly, the object to be kept in view is, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." The source of the gift, as well as the object of its exercise, is God Himself, while the strength to meet our responsibility as stewards is also given to us of God. How completely therefore man is displaced in our path as servants. The time is coming when God will be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:28.) It is our privilege to anticipate this time while serving down here according to His will. Moreover, if called upon to "speak," we are to speak as oracles (not the oracles) of God; that is, as those who have learnt His mind, and hence as channels for the expression of His thoughts and not of our own; for "he that speaketh of himself (from himself, originating his own thoughts) seeketh his own glory," and thus could not have the end before his soul that God in all things might be glorified.