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No. XI.


* For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep.” Acts xiii. 36.

It is truly wonderful to mark the controlling power of God over agents the most unconscious and unwilling, so as to render them subservient to the effectuating His own counsel;. “ howbeit in his heart he thinketh not so," But it is equally important to see, when God has, from time to time, raised up special instruments for the work He has to be done, such instruments have ever manifested that both the wisdom and power they have is derived from God. So long as they have acted in their proper sphere they have succeeded; because they have acted in faith. " The Lord of Hosts is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Such considerations give great present calmness to the believer: God has given to us the spirit of a sound mind." We know that God has a counsel, and it shall stand, although he kringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; we need not feel ourselves as though God could not carry out his own counsel without our plans or assistance.

66 Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?”. In the rich grace wherein God has abounded toward us in redemption, he has “abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” He has left no contingency to be provided for by the wisdom and prudence of his saints: their power of serving him is faith. Hence, says the Apostle, whom his adversaries would charge with acting from policy, “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have


had our conversation in the world.” But it is one of the results of the fall that man affects creative power, and rejoices in the works of his hands; but that which he makes is like himself, even without continuance. He may strive to perpetuate that which he vainly conceives he has originated; but God knows the thoughts of man that they are but vain. That only can stand which God both originates and perpetuates. On this point, as well as others touching the pretensions of man, God will come to an issue with man. To those who know redemption, the issue has been already joined, and the result is, that no flesh can glory in His presence; but he that glorieth can only glory in the Lord: “ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” He alone can “ bear the glory," who is able to say, I the first and the last," " the Alpha and the Omega,” “the beginning and the end." The essential glory of His person is the security for effectuating His work. All real subordinate ministry flows directly from Him. He has ascended up on high, and " he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers," and he still gives them, according to his own sovereign will.

He has not left the ministry for the building up of his body to depend upon succession, as the Aaronic priesthood; or on the schools of philosophy, as in ancient times; or on universities or academies, as in our day; or on popular choice, as in the case of the seven deacons recorded in the Acts; but directly on Himself. In giving such gifts of ministry he has not given to them the responsibility of devising means to perpetuate his work: He works in them, and “ with them; and they only work healthfully as they hang upon Him, and fill up that place in the body which he has asssigned to them for its present service. Hence in their ministerial capacity, as well as their capacity as Christians, they alone“ stand by faith."

The analogy afforded by the history of Israel is very striking. After the death of Joshua, God was pleased to act by the extraordinary ministry of Judges for four hundred years. “ Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that

of the way

spoiled them; and yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them; they turned quickly out

y which their fathers had walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord, but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings, by reason of them that oppressed them, and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." When the men of Israel would have perpetuated their blessing after their own thoughts, in the case of Gideon, one of their judges, Gideon, refused their offer. « Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.” Gideon had fulfilled his mission, and served his generation. God had wrought by Gideon to bring Israel to depend on Himself, and Gideon sought to answer the same end. On the other hand, the prominent failure of Samuel, otherwise so remarkably blameless, was the attempt to perpetuate his own mission in his sons: “ And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel..... And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.”. This led to the people's desire for a king:

Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." Samuel

may have seen more distinctly than Gideon that such a request was the rejection of Jehovah himself as their king; yet he had vainly thought to perpetuate good government through his sons, whom God had not called to that ministry.

Among many instructions afforded us in God answering the desire of the people for a king, in giving them Saul, and then removing him, according to the word of . the Prophet: “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” — the important truth, that perpetuation of blessing rests alone with God, is sufficiently apparent. So that even when God himself raised

up unto them David to be their king, to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfil all my will,” the highest honour which God put upon David was to be a type of his own seed, in whom alone blessing can possibly be perpetuated—“Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” It is in this order that the Holy Ghost himself leads our thoughts by the apostle (Acts xiii.), abruptly turning from David to David's seed: “ Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus." But David served his own generation, and in doing so did that which he sought to do in another way, even serve posterity. This is an important principle, that in serving our own generation, doing our appointed service in God's way, and in His time, we do really secure the very thing which we attempt to secure by providing for the future by means of our own devising. In trying to act for posterity we retrograde, and oppose a barrier to others carrying on the work which God may have assigned to us to commence. In this manner it would seem that the Reformation was hindered; the reformers were anxious to secure that precious truth which God, through them, had revived. In doing this they hindered their own progress, and got off the ground of faith. They succeeded in establishing that which they allowed to be imperfect and incomplete; and by this Establishment have hindered to this day the progress of others, because their established imperfection has become the standard to their posterity. Most blessedly did David serve his generation, when the Lord took him as he said, “From the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: and I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great

name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.” It was the time of David's “trouble,” but it was also the time of his real greatness, and of his most important service to his generation: David then magnified the Lord, and the Lord magnified David in the sight of all Israel. Walking before the Lord, David could afford to appear vile in the eyes of Michal, and of all who despised him. No two things are morally more opposite, than the Lord making an individual great, and the same person whom the Lord has magnified acting the great man himself. Here truly is found the need of “hind's feet” to tread on our high places. The Lord magnified Moses by his promise, “ Certainly I will be with thee." " And the man Moses became very great in the land of Egypt, and in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.” The Lord would not allow any insult to be put on his chosen servant, but promptly resented it. Once only did this chosen servant magnify himself, and it is written for our instruction: " And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted


his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice..... And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."

David had most blessedly served his generation," when the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies." At this time, “when the king sat in his house,” the thought came into his heart that it was not suitable for the ark of the Lord to dwell in curtains, whilst he was dwelling in a house of cedar. David knew well the value of the presence of the Lord, and he sought to secure it in a way which seemed right in his own eyes, and which commended itself also to the judgment of Nathan the prophet. But “who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him.” The man after God's own heart, and an inspired prophet, are

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