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But this abuse ought not to hinder_real Christians from having their peace-offerings. The word still remains “Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
There is and there ought to be, a holy jealousy in our souls lest we only like " sacrifices with leaven;" but we have to watch against a morbid feeling arising from this very jealousy. It is “the oil of gladness" with which Jesas anoints his fellows. There is joy in the Holy Ghost, joy from above brought into the sorrow here below; and whilst one who loves the Lord Jesus Christ cannot but be sorrowful at witnessing the joy of the world, so soon to be turned into sorrow, he is still to be “ as always rejoicing," whether he look back to the cross, at present circumstances, or onward to the future, or upward to God. The Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus, and taking of his things and shewing them unto us, turns everything to profit. And if " fearfully and wonderfully made, find it hard to distinguish between the flesh and the spirit, Jesus above can separate the precious from the vile, and we must not deprive ourselves of the sober, holy joy of the Holy Ghost, because we cannot exactly analyse our feelings. There was leaven in the peace offerings. The characteristic of real Christian joy would be equable cheerfulness, so distinct from mere temporary excitement often followed by depression. Hence the word, “ Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be ye filled with the Spirit."
When we turn to the teaching of the Lord Jesus and his Apostles, we find very interesting instruction from the use of the word leaven; whether used figu. ratively of doctrine or practice, or as representing the process of the little leaven which leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. v. 6: Gal. v. 9); or as embracing both these thoughts.
It is first used by our Lord in the remarkable series of Parables in Matt. xiii. “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” It is the process of leavening which is prominent here--resultour eyes
ing in a leavened mass. The Lord had previously given the reason of His teaching in this way. “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." The truth concealed under the parable will alone be elicited by the spiritual, and conclusions of the most opposite moral bearing will be drawn from the same parable by the acuteness of intellect, and by the spiritual mind. The same parable is like the pillar of the cloud in the night time, darkness to the Egyptians and light to Israel; it blinds the acutest intellect, but it gives deep instruction to the humble, who depend upon the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Before Christendom stands out as a leavened mass, the leavening process has gone on and is still proceeding; a result has been produced, and that result is by common consent called Christianity. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.” There are two principal modes of corruption traceable both in the history of Israel and that of the Church; but both involving the same principle, the loss of their separateness, which was in fact their glory and their strength. Israel would be as the nations; when “to dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations" was their real glory. Israel leaned on an arm of flesh, on Egypt or Assyria, their house of bondage or prison-house, when the arm of the Lord was their strength and salvation. Thus also Israel " changed their glory for that which doth not profit," adopting the idolatry of the nations into the worship of the true God. “Be astonished, 0 ye heavens, at this, be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
It may be difficult practically to separate the two evils one from the other, either in the case of Israel, or the Church. But with respect to the Church, there is an intended distinction in the figure of the woman putting leaven in the mass, and “the harlot with the golden cup in her hands, full of abominations and filthiness of her
fornication." It is the difference between what the woman does with that which is committed to her charge, and what the woman receives for the favours she bestows; " “ for they give gifts to all whores” (Ezek. xvi. 33).
( Both the household woman and the harlot help on to the rearing of Babylon, but in different ways; and the quiet plausible way of the housekeeper is less suspected, but not less dangerous, than the barefacedness of the harlot. In plain words, the gradual way in which the Church has insinuated itself into the world, is by no means so transparent an evil, as the open manner in which the Church has received the world into itself. Men are sharp-sighted enough as to the latter, and constantly inveigh against ecclesiastical cupidity, because they have, almost by common consent, made the Church to consist of ecclesiastics, and feel themselves justified in doing, for their own selfish ends, that which they condemn in an accredited ecclesiastic. Men judge their clergy by a higher standard than that by which they measure themselves; and there is but retributive justice in this, for, if the position claimed by clergy, be entirely opposed to the whole tone of Christ's teaching and that of His apostles--if they are in principle a usurpation of Christ's prerogatives--they necessarily lay themselves open to such a partial judgment; for they have deluded men into the notion that they are a distinct class. But whilst
is so discerning as that of the men of the world, as to the inconsistencies of even real Christians, especially in their pursuit of the honours of the world, they themselves are glorying in the leavened mass which they call Christianity. They speak of the Christian world with commendation; they regard such Christianity, not as a corrupt system prophetically announced, but as though it were the proper fruit of the Gospel of the grace of God. Ignorant of what the Church of the living God is, they believe the outward likeness of the kingdom of heaven to be that reality, which is the Church of the living God. The manner of the leavening process is to be discovered by attending to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Himself. If we once receive the truth, that separateness unto God is the real blessing of the true Church; we can readily conceive how that the attempt to incorporate its privileges with the world (whatever might be its influence on the world) would mar that separateness. The result produced would be something spurious, in the midst of which the real Church would be hidden; but the effect would be, that to the eyes of men the real Church would be overlooked, and the corrupt mass become invested with its privileges. When we read the solemn admonition of the Lord, spoken to His disciples in the audience of the multitude, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you;" we get at once a clue to the mode of the leavening process, which has produced that anomaly a Christian world. If we cannot state exactly the commencement, we know that the mystery of iniquity was at work in the Apostle's days, and that the germ of every false doctrine had then its rise in the Church. This also we know, that it is by the power of the Holy Ghost alone accompanying the preaching of the pure word of God that souls can really be converted to God, and become living stones of the temple of God. Now to such a power the Church could not openly pretend; and therefore it became necessary for the Church to make a way of investing men with all her privileges, by leading them to the external observance of things which real Christians did, but which they did because they knew the power of redemption in their own souls. It was in the power of man to change one outward form for another; and his own native powers of mind might be convinced of the folly of idolatry. He might be turned from idols without being turned to God; he might observe Christian ordinances without any spiritual understanding. He might worship with those who worshipped God in the spirit, and yet himself not know what he worshipped. And where does the responsibility rest? Surely with those who had given that which was holy to the dogs, for the “ dogs" are those “ without.” It was the mistaken way of doing good by those who would try to persuade themselves that they were conferring a benefit, when
they knew, after all, that there was no reality in ito At best it was a pious fraud. And now when men are told that they are only Christians in name, and that their profession only enhances their responsibility, and will issue in more awful condemnation, they turn on them who thus speak the truth and “rend" them. Their very profession is the greatest possible hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel
. And with respect to the precious pearls, all the doctrines of grace, and privileges of true believers, they are trodden under foot as worthless. What is the death and resurrection of Christ but mere history to the mind of the great professing body? what the privileges of sonship-so marvellous in the eyes of a believer, but a mere unmeaning name to one who has been taught it by rote in his childhood, so that he would scoff at its avowal? Esau, the profane one, is the just type of the great professing body, desiring to inherit the blessing, and yet despising the birthright. The Lord further teaches by two homely yet remarkable figures. “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put to fill it
taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. Here we are taught that the attempt at uniting new and old will end in disaster. The “new” may be good, intrinsically good in itself, which is the case here supposed, but it will neither fit in nor amal-, gamate with the old. The attempt to add on Christ to John the Baptist, instead of regarding their missions and ministries as in direct contrast the one with the other-in other words, the attempt to apply the way
of grace as exhibited in Christ to the way of righteousness as exhibited by John, would end in thorough disregard of the righteousness and holiness of God, and fritter away the Gospel into the notion of a remedial law. The popular idea of the Gospel too plainly illustrates the result of putting the new piece to the old garment. The immutable justice and holiness of God-the effectual finished work of Christ in atonement for everlasting