« AnteriorContinuar »
“ Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump." In the one aspect, it can ever be said, “God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel”; in the other, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” To the understanding of man it appears a strange thing, that perfect acceptance with God should be compatible with the idea of the Lord Himself trying the heart and searching the reins. But it is all plain to faith—and the righteous live only by faith--of what Christ is, and what he is in Christ. In Christ he sees the Church as “unleavened,” and the holy discipline of God is ever unto this one object--that the actual condition of believers may more correspond to their true condition as accepted in the beloved. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened; for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
There is such a thing as Christian attainment, but is not the attainment of a standing before God; that is given to us in Christ Jesus. “ By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” But there is attainment in the soul's progress in conformity to this standing so wondrously given to us. This attainment was the desire of the Apostle (Phil. chap. iii.), and in this his language must ever have been so long as he was in the flesh—"not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect"--for nothing would satisfy the cravings of his soul until he actually was in that perfect conformity to Christ, for which he had been apprehended of Christ. In this respect, the way of God is so different from our way, and so pre-eminently above it. It is objective. He holds out to us what He by his grace has already made us to be in Christ; and whilst thus comely in the comeliness which He has put upon us, there is ever the danger of our trusting in our beauty, as though we had anything out of Christ. In his infinite wisdom, whilst perfectly knowing the inward craving of the soul
after that perfectness which is ours in Christ He Himself, by the searching probe of His word, discovers to us all that we are in ourselves—mour folly, vileness and ignorance. In doing this, he makes us, in peaceful calmness, increasingly value the word, " as ye are unleavened”-at the very time he addresses to us the word, “ Purge out, therefore, the old leaven.”—PRESBUTES.
A SOLEMN THOUGHT. IF the hour of our translation be not soon, there will be a generation arise of much hardier, flinty, material, than I and many others, are; a band of martyr-men, who surrender the world and face the power of it, with decided hearts. We wonder at some of the qualities which marked the generation that went before us. We wonder, for instance, that George Whitfield could have remained in the establishment, and that Church-truth and prophetic or Jewish truth was not better discerned than it was; that confusion and uncleanness were so sanctioned. But a generation may come after us, who will wonder that, with the heavenly truths we know and in which they will agree) hardness was not better endured, and vigour and zeal were not more put forth.
FRAGMENTS. The life which we lead here below is full of changes; one must live very close to God if one is to preserve the equilibrium in one's soul, and to rejoice in those things which pain, as a man, one's heart, as seeing them in the light of the will of God our Father.
The state of many persons, at the present time, recalls to mind the malediction pronounced upon him that staid himself upon an arm of flesh Jer. xvi. He shall not see when good cometh.
ROMANS XI. 1-22. The question here is this-Has God rejected His people ?
That He has not, is proved
1st. Because there is an election, as in the days of the prophet: the rest are blinded.
2ndly. Because, if they have stumbled, it was not that they might fall, but that salvation might be accorded to the Gentiles. Observe, the Apostle does not say to some Gentiles, but to the Gentiles; and that the Gentiles, and not some Gentiles, are put in contrast with the Jews. Certainly it is not some elect Gentiles in contrast with some elect Jews; but the Gentiles in contrast with the Jews. Therefore, the Apostle says, that the rejection of these last is the reconciliation of the world. So that the Apostle tells us that the Gentiles and the world have been placed, since the fall of the Jews, in a new relationship God-ward to that in which they were previously. It is not the question whether they were all made effectually partakers of the benefits of that relationship; but the thing itself had taken place.
The third proof is that, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, then all Israel, Israel as a nation, shall be saved, and that at the return of Christ. When Paul speaks “to you Gentiles,” he does not say, To you, Gentile believers; for he adds "Inasmuch as I am Apostle of the Gentiles.” Was he Apostle to the Gentile believers? Clearly not; he was Apostle of the Gentiles in the sense of Gentiles in contrast with Jews, with the circumcision of which Peter was the Apostle. Moreover, verse 13 precedes verse 25, where he says “My brethren." In the 13th and following verses, he is occupied with salvation granted to the Gentiles, and with the reconciliation of the world as a doctrine, and not with a warning to his brethren.
The more one examines the passage, the more is it evident that the interpretation which applies it to the existing economy, considered in the light of the call of the Gentiles, and which makes it to be a warning to the Gentiles, as to their responsibility, is the only correct interpretation. As to Abraham, I consider him as the root, but looked at as the personification of the three principles--of election, of calling, and of promise.
I press distinctly, that there are privileges besides, outside of vital union with Christ, and privileges for which the Gentiles will be responsible, as the Jews were for theirs. See 1 Cor. x. Those who have enjoyed these privileges will be punished with more stripes, if they have not profited from them; while those who have not possessed them, will be beaten with few stripes. It was à privilege to be servant in the house, to have received one talent; but such persons, or class of persons, were not united to Christ in a vital manner. The seed sown in the stony ground was a privilege; but there was no root, no vital union.
As to any attack made upon the position I hold, let those who make it take care that they mistake not its difficulties and my weakness for the position itself. To answer such attacks, would be either to justify oneself, or to accuse others. According to the blessing found in the position, God will draw to it those whom he means to bless. If there be no blessing in it, one cannot wish God to draw his children to it.
Moreover, some little experience in these things shows their value. They turn aside those who have not sufficient faith to walk according to conviction; they stop for a time simple souls, and these exercise the faith of the faithful; but then, the reaction is all the stronger; and all this turns to blessing, and leads souls into a freer and more blessed position. Moreover, it is good, if defamed, to entreat, and in patience to submit oneself to the will of God in well-doing.
That the principle, “ that all have a right to speak,” may have produced a necessity in the minds of some to be the sole speakers, or to take the directive of worship, one can well understand. That these two evils render simplicity of obedience more difficult, one can also comprehend; but the evils of a system, which I believe bad, ought not to form the rule of conduct for those, at least, who wait on God.
MIXED PRINCIPLES. There is a difference between those characters in Scripture which are formed by what have been termed “ Mixed Princi. ples;” and those persons who occasionally were led to act upon such principles. The character and life, for instance, of Lot and of Jonathan were formed by mixed principles. Lot, though associated with the call of Abraham, was a man of the earth all through—and Jonathan, though witnessing the sorrows and the wrongs of David, continued in Saul's court all through. Their character and their life were formed by associations which were untrue to the energy of the Spirit at the time.
But take such men as Jacob and as Jehoshaphat, and in them you find another generation. Jacob was a cautious man, who had his worldly fears, and schemes, and calculations, such as greatly disfigure and alloy many of the passages of his life. His building a house at Succoth, and purchasing a field at Shechem, were things untrue to the pilgrim life, the tent-life to which the call of God had called him. But I could not put him with Lot. His life was not ruled by these things. He was still a stranger with God in the earth—and, indeed, in the closing scene of his journey, when in Egypt, there is many a beautiful witness of full moral recovery. So Jehoshaphat." Vanity betrayed him, as worldly cautiousness and the schemes and calculatings of worldly fear sadly betray Jacob. Jehoshaphat joined affinity with Ahab. Jehoshaphat put on the royal attire. He acted in terrible inconsistency with the sanctity and separateness of the house of David. He was untrue to the testimony which became Judah against the revolt and the idols of the Ten Tribes. He was unlike Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, in the day of the battle.
But though this was so, we could not put Jehoshaphat in company with men of mixed principles; at least I judge so. His life, generally, was the life of a true son of David, and king in Jerusalem. Very dear affections breathe through his spirit towards the God of the temple there. Very noble deeds were done by his hand, and the God of his father owned him all through. But like Jacob and to a very
sad extent, if you please, he was betrayed into ways which made his testimony a mixed and imperfect thing-so that in him, as in Jacob, it was not only nature prevailing to do evil; but it was nature prevailing to lead him for awhile, and that, too, again and again into the ways and the connections against which the call of God would have had him testify.
END OF VOL. III.