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were to receive from that assembly, written by Paul, and by which the saints at Colosse were to profit; possibly the Epistle to the Ephesians, which he may have communicated to the Laodiceans. Be this as it may, all that is said, is, that it was one of which the assembly at Laodicea were in possession, and by no means that it was directly addressed to them: rather the contrary. It is very possible that a letter, or a hundred letters, may have been written by Paul to others, which it was not in the purposes of God to preserve for the universal Church; but here there is no proof that a letter had been written to the Laodiceans. Tychicus was the bearer of two, he may have been the bearer of three, one of which differed only in some details of application which might serve to confirm the Colossians without being in the main another divine communication for other days; but, I repeat, it does not appear to be so from that which is said here. It might be said a letter "from Laodicea," because it was there, instead of a letter to Laodicea, but it is not the usual mode of expression. We have seen that the letter to the Ephesians is another communication of the Spirit of God. It has been preserved for us. We do not know whether that from Laodicea was the same, communicated by them to the Christians of that city; or another, which they were to send to the Colossians (a Church in their vicinity) and which—adding nothing to the divine revelations has not been preserved for us.
It appears that Christians were not very numerous at Laodicea. The apostle salutes the brethren there. There were some who assembled in the house of one Nymphas; they were not in a case to have a letter addressed to them in particular; still the apostle does not forget them. But that which he says here is an almost certain proof that the apostle had not addressed any epistle to them. He would not have sent greetings through the Colossians to the brethren in Laodicea, if, at the same time, he had written a special epistle to the latter. The case is plain enough; there were brethren at Laodicea, but not in great numbers, and not in that distinct position which gave rise to an epistle. But this little assembly in the
house of Nymphas was not to be forgotten; it should profit by the epistles addressed to other assemblies more considerable than itself, and whose condition required an epistle, or gave occasion to write one, which epistles were transmitted to Laodicea, according to the apostle's order.
With regard to the epistle to the Colossians, it is not a supposition. The apostle commands them expressly to have it read in the assembly at Laodicea. The latter had also received another epistle from some other assembly, and the Colossians were to profit by it in the same manner. The two assemblies, which were near each other, were mutually to enjoy the spiritual favours that were granted them.
The apostle does not forget individuals even. chippus receives a solemn exhortation to take heed to the ministry which the Lord had committed to him, and to fulfil His service.
The apostle had not seen these assemblies (ii. 1).
THE CONFESSION OF A VERY AGED PILGRIM.
"I have been weaker ever since that illness. You remember the long long deep slumber into which I sank, out of which none could rouse me; out of which none thought I ever should rouse -until you came: that was a wonderful sleep! As I lay there, I saw the vast bundle of my sins; too large for me to lay hold of, or to carry. I was troubled and uneasy; but One said to me 'Never fear! the scape-goat with his strong, broad back, has carried them all away into a land not inhabited.' This calmed Ine. The Lord Jesus Christ is the scape-goat, is He not?"
THE ANOINTED ONE.
Prov. viii. 22-31.
THE Divine Counsels were all laid in Christ, before the foundation of the world. The Son of the bosom was brought out in counsel then; and all the purposes of God had their foundation in Him, in the person He was preordained to be, and the place He was pre-appointed to fill.1
We read this in Proverbs, viii.
"The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth, while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens I was there, when He set a compass upon the face of the depth, when he established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment, when He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him (as) One brought up (with Him), and I was daily (His) delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and My delights were with the sons of men.'
What a message does this Scripture bring to us from the eternal ages! It tells us of those infinite ages which were before creation, in ways most wondrous and excellent. How exact and special is Wisdom's account of herself in that passage! The chief part of the dust of the world
1 When the fulness of time came, as we know, the Son assumed flesh perfect God and perfect man, without confusion of the natures, yet in the unity of the one Person-and as the Christ, He went through His blessed wondrous, history in life, death, resurrection and glory.
was not then made, when all was planned and settled in Christ. No work of His hand had God to survey then. No evening or morning had then given Him succeeding periods for delight and refreshment, as the good and holy work advanced to its perfection. But He had Christ in counsel before him, His first thought, and the foundation of all His thoughts. The things of creation and redemption, the things of Providence and grace, heavenly purposes and earthly purposes, things nearer at hand or further off, all had respect to Him. "The Lord possessed me," says Wisdom, " in the beginning of His way."
But in this beautiful mysterious passage, there are two things which specially engage my mind at this timethat Christ was, "by Him, as One brought up with Him,” and again, that He was also "His delight." That is, He was ever at hand, so to speak, and ever a joy. He was God's resource and God's object.
These two things are strongly marked here; and as we pass down the current of Scripture, we find this to be SO. Let what may arise, Christ is ever by God, ready to be used by Him at once, and then used by Him with delight. In Eden or at creation, among the Patriarchs, under the law, in the days of the kings, and by the voices of the prophets, as well as after His manifestation in flesh, and then in the light of the Holy Ghost through the Apostles, that is, from the opening to the close of the volume, this is seen. Let man be in innocency or sold under sin, whether the elect be in simple family order, or in the organized system of a nation, or in the unity of a mystic body, whether they be ruled or instructed, under government or under revelation, Christ is God's great ordinance. It may be, that we, through unbelief and blindness of heart, get but a dim sight of Him at times, God sees Him clearly and at all times, under all changes and conditions. And this is what I would now contemplate for a little while, in some of the leading instances of it.
We know that, at the Creation, without Him was not anything made that was made.
As soon as sin enters, He comes forth at once.
the burden of the first promise which was made immediately upon the entrance and conviction of sin. He is, as we know, the bruised, victorious seed of the woman. The Lord God brings him forth at once, as One already provided in counsel, or, as our Scripture speaks, "As One brought up with him," as One that was "by Him." Sin, the great occasion for the manifestation of God and His grace, and His secrets, had come in, and Christ at once comes forth. Faith in Adam receives Him—with what measure of light we may not be able to say, but as soon as believing Adam comes out from his guilty covert at the bidding of the seed of the woman now revealed to him, the Lord God uses Christ for him with delight. The action of clothing him with the coat of skins tell us this. There was freedom and fervency in that action. It was done without reserve, and by the Lord's own hand. The coat of skins was first made by Him, and then by Him put on the naked Adam-all this bespeaking His delight in Christ, using Him, and using Him with readiness of heart, for "the sons of men' as our Scripture speaks. The Lord God wrought in a ruined world now, as He had lately wrought for six days in an unstained creation. And, if the eternal purpose respecting Christ, the counsel of grace laid in Him ere worlds began, had been the delight of God, so also was the manifestation of this purpose now-this earliest use and application of it. This delight fed itself in action and service, when the need arose, as surely as it had fed itself in thought and counsel in eternity.
So again, shortly after this first case of Adam, Abel's altar and lamb speak the same truth. The sacrifice was to God a witness of Christ, and God had immediate respect to it. He answered that sacrifice at once, and evidently with delight. He had respect to Abel and to his offering. He pleads with Cain on the warrant and value of it, and would fain have had him, another sinner like Abel, serve at the same altar-all this still telling of the same purpose and joy, that His anointed was "by Him, as One brought up with Him," and "daily His delight," His equal and full delight one day as well as another, in the behalf of one sinner as well as of another, for Abel as well as for Adam.