VOL. XV. August, 1932
VOL. XV. August 1-15, 1932 No. 15
"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." - 1 Thess. 4:3.
IN MYRIAD forms of animal and vegetable life the silent law of growth from infancy to maturity, from tiny seed to ripened fruit and golden grain, is forced on our attention. In all the diversified forms and manifestations of God's creative wisdom and power by which we are surrounded, we behold the same orderly, progressive development: "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mark 4:28.) What a world of interesting mystery lies hidden in nature's growth! "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto, you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Matt. 6:28, 29.) All the skill of human ingenuity exercised upon the costly fabrics purchased by Solomon is robbed of real charm in the presence of God's handiwork displayed in the humble lily of the field. And the same mystery is present in the realm of the spiritual. Here, as in nature, growth follows the same fixed law. It is "as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how." As after all the researches of scientists and philosophers, no one, has been able to discover the secret' laws of growth in natural things, so also the great mystery of godliness continues shrouded in undiscovered infinities. We may observe how one fact or -result will follow another, and note with interest the marked manifestations of God's power at work in the transformation of men and women, but finite minds can never comprehend the details of "God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus."
Sacrificing Without Sanctification
Since growth is so marked a feature of God's operations in nature and in grace, how evident it is that this fact should be constantly before the mind of the Christian. With what frequency the Scriptures urge us to be concerned about "growing in grace" and about putting "on the new man, which after God is created [progressively] in righteousness and true holiness." (2 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:15, 24.) And in the text we are about to consider the Apostle is plainly instructing us that there is a special need for careful attention to the final will of God for usour maturity in spiritual growth. Through the exercise of faith we have been introduced into a relationship fraught with great possibilities, and if the admonitions of the inspired Word are not heeded, it will surely be in vain that we have received this grace of God. It is equally evident to the careful student of the Scriptures that since the "heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," it is so possible to be deceived into a premature conclusion that our position is secure, and that our response to the Spirit's operation is all that is required. To be consecrated, but not sacrificing "lawfully," and to be zealously exercised in this, but not sanctified, is so real a possibility, that it may be said without fear of contradiction that the number of fully consecrated lives around us, lives that are actually passing through the progressive stages of sanctification, are few indeed. This fact; has been painfully apparent in every period of the Church's history. With many, a consecration to right living, the pursuit of that which is right and proper in deportment, and the careful avoidance of wrong, doing, is considered the sum total of, Christian attainment; consequently, the constant urge to a "living sacrifice and a completed work of sanctification so often falls on unreceptive ears.
Through Full Consecration to Clearer Light
"The word consecration is hot a common New Testament term, and perhaps it is never used in close connection with the direct inculcation of the higher spiritual life. We find it twice in Hebrews, but derived in each case from a different original word, and not relating primarily to the life of God in the soul. In Hebrews 7:28, we have ' 'teteleiomenon' rendered 'consecrated' which means finished, completed, and asserts the perfection of Christ's priestly office. In chapter 10:20, we find it again.
Here the original is 'enekainisen,' which signifies to dedicate, institute, renovate, and refers to the new and consecrated way of approach'-to, God through the sacrifice of Christ.
"In the Old Testament the word is often employed to point out the setting apart of things and persons from common to sacred uses. As a Christian duty it -imports, not the devotion of some things and some men to God, but the gift of ourselves to Him entirely, and forever.
"In a proper approach, therefore, to God to be saved from all sin, consecration becomes necessary -- consecration full and particular. While there is no merit in consecration, yet it is the condition precedent and a preliminary work indispensable to the attainment of holiness. It is that act or disposition of ourselves toward God which puts us in an attitude to receive. It is emptying ourselves that we may be filled. 'It is ungrasping our hold on every thing, that God may have the disposal of us and ours. It is the assignment of all our possessions, real and fancied, to. Him, that our insolvency may be acknowledged and His proprietary right in us recognized. It is that posture in relation to Christ which is aptly' symbolized by the upturned cups of flowers whose only office is to unfold and drink. They do not; make or merit the elements of their nourishment and life, but simply adjust themselves into a position to drink in 'the light, the rain,' the dew, without which there could be no vegetable life or floral, bloom or beauty. So the Christian only places himself in a state of receptivity by the act of consecration.
"It is somewhat unfortunate that both the word and the work which it represents have been misunderstood. By some it has been used as a synonym of all the terms that indicate the 'Higher Life." This is a mistake. Consecration is not sanctification, though it is conducive to it, and closely allied with that state in' nature and order of accomplishment. It is 'to full salvation' what seeding is 'to harvest, and bloom is to fruit, and touch is to sensation antecedent, but inseparable. It is not cleansing, but coming to the blood to be cleansed.' It is not the fire that consumes sin and refines the heart, but a sacrificing disposition of ourselves upon the altar which invites the fire and awaits its coming.
"Consecration is a voluntary, unreserved, and irrevocable dedication of ourselves" to God, with all that pertains to us. It is in. nature a repetition of the surrender we made when seeking justification, only it is more enlightened and comprehensive, and made for the attainment of a different and more specific object. A penitent sinner gives himself to God that he may obtain pardon, the cancellation of guilt, arid, deliverance from, a crushing burden upon the conscience. True, he, expects, and has a right to expect, the peace that follows justification, but his absorbing thought is pardon, the suppression of fear, the inspiration of hope. Usually he sees only the penalty of sin, not its deep turpitude. He mourns over acts of sin committed; not over the defilement which sin has shot all through his being. He desires his sins to be forgotten, and prays that they may be, blotted from the book and memory of God; but has not risen to the conception of being personally cleansed from all sin.
Work of the Spirit to Search Our Hearts
"The Lord gives the penitent sinner all he asks, all he feels the need of, and all he believes for; but that Divine Spirit which regenerates, and witnesses to forgiveness and adoption, also brings light-searching light. He leads into all truth. He reveals the turpitude of sin and the remains of sin. He lifts the veil which hides the; deformities, and cuts away the film that prevents our seeing the inherent vileness of our sin. He sheds and analyzes our whole constitution, and enables us to see and thread the currents of corruption that have penetrated to the depths of our nature. He also reveals that our experiences and life, though converted, are a mixture of sin and holiness; and this because we have not perceived the possibilities of grace, nor recognized our obligation to be fully saved, to be redeemed from all iniquity, and to be purified unto Christ.
"Indeed, we now, discover that. we never gave ourselves to Christ with the distinct object that 'He might destroy the works of the Devil in us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Thus ,the whole work of our consecration (when seeking forgiveness) was initial and limited It had 'a primary and chief reference to a change of relation, while the paramount work of a change of state involving thorough holiness was not taken into account at all. As a general rule, the presentation which a penitent sinner makes of himself to God is indefinite and confused. It is a vague contrition and turning to God for mercy. This defectiveness is not intuitional, but results from the haze and obscurity which becloud the mind in its first approaches to God. Penitence is twilight; scales are yet upon the eyes. A seeker of justification sees men as trees walking. He may have given all to the Lord which at the time he knew to be required, but right there lurks the cause of this partial surrender. A want of knowledge created a deficit' in 'consecration. He did not see the broad requirement and necessity of holiness, and hence did not put himself in an attitude to receive it.
Appropriated Forever to His Uses
"Now it is this' primary failure, delinquency, and half-heartedness in giving ourselves to God, that imposes the obligation to repeat and perfect our consecration. . We must gather' up every neglected or misused faculty and article and place it in the hands of Jesus. The dedication, must take' place with as much detail as possible. Not that the Lord conditions acceptance upon an itemized count, for that would be impossible but enough of specialization must be practised to commit us to the idea of a whole burnt offering, and to leave the conviction in our consciousness that there is nothing purposely withheld. Like a deed, the transfer must convey the reality, 'with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging.' What was done before in bulk and loosely, with only a general aim, must now, be done with particularity, and for, the attainment of a specific object. It is an act of inventory and solemn transfer. Therefore, as in the case of a legal covenant and sale of merchandise, every article, great and small, must be taken down and catalogued and assigned. The body, with all its members; the mind, with all its faculties; the soul, with all its affections, tastes, and appetites; the substance, with all its gains and uses, including business pursuits, and social relations, recreations, education, thought, and reading, embracing all our advantages, natural and acquired; indeed, our whole life, together with our death, grave, and memory, must be given to Christ, and placed under contribution for His glory. 'Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.' (Rom. 14:8.) What a thought! Living, dying, or dead, we are the property of' Jesus, given away to Him, accepted and sealed by Him, and appropriated forever to His uses.
"Like a flower in the garden, we bloom and shed our fragrance for another. Like the brush in the hand of the painter, which traces the lines and shades of beauty not for itself, but for the artist whose property and instrument it is. In a consecrated state we recognize the fact that' we have passed out of our own hands, and therefore we are under obligation to glorify Him in body and spirit. Reader! 'I beseech you by the mercies of God to present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,' and thus make possible: the subsequent work comprehended in the perfect will and purpose; of God."
Let Us go on to Perfection
Albert Barnes, a Bible commentator of note, has well said that, "Any man who does not desire Christian perfection, and who does not constantly make it 'his aim to attain it, may set it down as demonstrably certain that he has no true religion. And certain it is, that such an one has lost that essential impulse to growth, so experimentally present and precious in the growing life of a true believer. " In. harmony with this the writer from which we have quoted at length has emphasized in a pleasing manner the manifest need of growth in knowledge, if we would grow in grace. The character of full consecration is quite properly stressed, and the obvious fact that the act of consecration must be the result of a grateful appreciation of indebtedness to God, is also well presented. But of special importance is the reminder that this dedication of ourselves to God must never be viewed particularly from the standpoint of what we sacrifice or give up in self-denial. How great is the danger of so emphasizing the giving up side on our part, and of overlooking in large measure the fact that our consecration is chiefly a matter of putting ourselves in line to receive a thousand-fold more than we could ever give -- yes, even "were the whole realm of nature" ours to lay upon the altar. The reminder is necessary that the foremost feature of God's will for us is our sanctification, our greatest good.
Well indeed then might we ask, If these things are to be properly appreciated as but antecedents to sanctification, what are the Scriptural teachings regarding sanctification itself? In harmony with the Apostle's prayer we believe the Scriptural teaching is that this sanctification is God's work: "The God of peace sanctify you wholly."
And so Jesus had also prayed, and in His prayer revealed how it would be accomplished: "Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth." ' (1 Thess. 5:23; John 17:17.) Again we read: "Draw nigh' to God, and He will draw nigh to you." ' "Cleanse your hands,' ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8.) Will drawing' nigh to, God accomplish this work in us? Yea, indeed! "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." - 2 Cor. 3:18.
Must Continue to Draw Nigh to God
The supreme and definite end of all our Lord's dealings with us through the power of the Holy Spirit operating on our hearts by the word of truth, is repeatedly emphasized in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, we have the words of the Prophet Malachi to the effect that His purpose is a drastic and thorough purification: "Who shall stand' when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the ,Lord an offering in righteousness." (Mal. 3:2, 3.) And for an elaboration of this same truth we may turn with profit to the oft repeated emphasis given by the Apostle Paul. He too would have us remember that it was to secure this great end that Jesus sanctified Himself, and revealed the marvelous love of His heart by the great sacrifice of His life, so that "He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people." And again it is written, 'Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." - Eph. 5:25.27.
These, and numerous other Scriptures clearly show that we must positively continue to "draw nigh to God" if we would come under the influence of His creative, transforming power. If we linger in the spirit of our minds, contented with the benefits of the outer court and its washings, we will never' advance in experience beyond the theoretical' understanding of the things hidden in the holy. The light of. the seven-branched candlestick will fail to enlighten our minds beyond the milk of the Word-the rudiments of the faith comprehensible to the natural mind. Then too the shewbread will be ineffectual and there will be no, strength do "go forward," and sadder still, no-yearning desire to do so. Failure here will mean an absence of those deep, fundamental longings after the perfections of our Father in heaven, so indispensable to development in, "proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Do All Things Through Christ
The written Word filling the mind as "spirit and life," fully believed, and appropriated, and the Living Word through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling and controlling the life, is God's simple description of the modus operandi of sanctification. In the outstart, it is to say, "For me to live is Christ."' "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." In every succeeding step it is the same, but apprehension increases, the habitual renewing of the mind expands the horizon, and as surely as is promised, the work progresses. Thinking God's thoughts after Him in this way, He stands ready to make His Word and Spirit effectual to cleanse us "from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Cor. 7:1.) Then, like the lily, we shall grow in a beauty beyond compare, unmarred by energies of the flesh
But what does it mean to be thus given up to the workmanship of God? Does it mean only passiveness on our part? Surely not. "This confident expectation of victory by the inworking power of God by no means supersedes earnest and watchful struggle against sin and intense and intelligent personal effort to yield to Christ the devotion He claims. For the new life is both Divine in its source and human in its development [God's part and our part]. Indeed, it is psychologically impossible to believe that God will save us from our sin unless we resolutely set ourselves against it. Nor can we expect Christ to live in us a life of devotion to God like His own life on earth, unless we appropriate to ourselves the mind that was in Christ, and gladly lay upon the altar consecrated by : His blood whatever we have and are. Thus, just as the faith which justifies is impossible apart from repentance, so sanctifying faith is impossible apart from unreserved consecration of ourselves "to God."
If we will but thus work together with God, then the mysterious power that can clothe the lily with a beauty far excelling Solomon in all his regal glory, will work in us the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God and make possible to us a "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Then as His new creation we shall be for evermore, "to the praise of the glory of the God of all grace" -"a royal diadem in the hand of our God."
"The God of Israel' is He that giveth strength and power unto His people. Blessed be God." - Psa. 68:35.
LET our natural powers of mind or tongue be what they may, we are quite unfit for serving God till the power of His Spirit comes upon us to consecrate the power that belongs to ourselves. Indeed, till this Divine power comes, we have really no power of our own for any spiritual work, even the smallest and humblest of all. But we almost never realize this thoroughly; and consequently, it is not our weakness but our fancied strength that is the great hindrance to our being used of God. All dependence upon our own wisdom, our own talents, our own intellectual grasp, our own powers of argument or persuasion or appeal, ignores the fundamental truth that 'our sufficiency is from Him.'
"When a steamship has grounded on the sand bar at a river's mouth, its own power is valueless for moving it. So far from helping it, the energy of its own machinery will only strain and injure it. What then? It must wait for God's power; the power of the rising tide. That great uplifting force will do easily and quickly what its own internal power cannot do; and this is but a parable of human helplessness waiting for the power that is Divine. . . . All our natural powers can be used mightily by God; but only when we think nothing of them, and surrender ourselves to be simply the vehicles of Divine power, letting God use us as He will, content to be even despised of men if He be glorified.
Causes of Insufficiency
"It may be said, therefore, with confidence that the cause of our inefficiency in God's service is threefold.
First, we are not still enough for God to come to us. Secondly, we are not empty enough for God to fill us. Thirdly, we are not sanctified enough for God to use and honor us.
"There are two suggestive Scripture metaphors, among many others, that show this very clearly. One of these is that which likens the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon us to the falling of the dew. Another is that which likens the Christian to a vessel fashioned by the Lord Himself, to be filled by Himself, and used in whatsoever way He Himself may choose.
"We need to be still enough for God to come to us. The gracious influence of the Holy Spirit falls upon the soul just as the dew falls in the stillness of the night upon the drooping plant. The plant cannot make the dew: it can only wait for it, and attract it. The dew is always close beside it, suspended in the atmosphere; but it does not fall unless two conditions are.-fulfilled-the air must be still, and the plant must be cool. We need much quiet stillness of soul if the grace .of the Spirit is to come down out of heaven to revive us; and the fever-heat of life, too, must be suffered to abate, for the blessed baptism, giving power from on high, can descend only when the heart is cooled as well as still.
"Then, again, we need to be empty enough for God to fill us. Paul, writing to Timothy, gives in a beautiful way God's idea of what every true and faithful Christian ought to be, 'a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared to every good work.' The metaphor is a very exalting one, but a very humbling one as, well. It tells us the high dignity to which we are called to be 'vessels to honor' in the Lord's 'great house.' It tells us what our high service in that great house is 'to be-'prepared unto every good work.' But it tells us also what in a moment takes down any pride' of self-sufficiency-that we are only 'vessels,' that God fashions us as it pleases Him, and uses us as it pleases Him, that we have nothing of our own, but are merely His vehicles for receiving and carrying and distributing what He fills us with.
Not Always Self-Emptied
"But the difficulty and the hindrance on our side often is that we are not willing to be this and nothing more. We are not always self-emptied enough to let the 'Master' of the 'great house' put into us what He wills, and use us as He wills. It is a wonderful honor to be vessels in His hands. It is altogether marvelous grace that can take what were once 'vessels of wrath,' transform them into vessels of mercy,' and then make of these vessels of mercy vessels to honor,' vessels fit for the noblest use, vessels filled with the grace which they may carry to other souls. But do we realize that after all we are only vessels, vessels to be employed in different ways, some to larger usefulness than others, some constantly in use, others in use only at occasional times-but all of them only vessels until He fills them, vessels to be used by Him in any way He thinks best, or to be laid aside upon the shelf if He has no present use to put them to? Do we always realize and consent to this? Do we sometimes feel perfectly willing to be His vessels, if only He will make us great enough and ornamental enough to satisfy ourselves; if only He will fill us with all aromatic spices instead of common water; but not: willing to be of meaner make, or to be used in a less self-glorifying way?
"We need to be holy enough for God to honor us. 'Vessels unto honor' are 'sanctified' vessels, vessels 'purged' of evil within, vessels hallowed and consecrated for His service alone. This is the most essential characteristic of all. How can the Lord of Purity use uncleansed vessels when He wants to carry in them the 'pure water of life' to some thirsty lip, or the wine of the kingdom to some fainting heart?
A Single Unmortified Lust
"The measure of our Christian power is just the measure of our Christian consecration. A single unmortified lust, whether of the flesh or of the spirit, a single besetting sin tolerated in the heart or life, will hinder all our usefulness to God, even though we be vessels of the most beautiful ornamentation and of the finest make.
"'Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the refiner,' is one of Solomon's pithy sayings; and in its spiritual application it goes very deep. Does it not mean, 'Take away all conscious defilement from soul and life, and then, as hallowed vessels, God will be able to use you for His praise'? It was a-law for ancient Israel that they should 'bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.' If unclean, it would be only 'a vessel in which is no pleasure,' and the offering within it would not be accepted at His hands. That law is one that still stands unrepealed in the statute book of Christ.
"These are some of God's answers to our questionings about inefficiency in service, and they are sufficient to be both a rebuke and a stimulus when we listen to them in the secret place where alone they can be heard. It was just at the very time when Saul of Tarsus was in the depths of self-condemnation and self-despair, utterly emptied of all his former self-sufficiency, that the Lord Jesus: said of him to Ananias, 'He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings, and the people of Israel.' If we could only begin with a self-emptying as he did, might we not end where he did too, 'filled with the Holy Spirit'?" - Selected.
"I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."-Acts 20:35.
DURING the dispensation of the call of the Church to that exalted station as the Bride and Joint-heir of Christ, the special privileges of the enjoyment of Divine grace far exceed those of the previous Age. And to those who hear His Word obediently, He addresses Himself: as their Father, and them as His children, sons of God. To these entering His family thus, He communicates a knowledge of His will and plan without specifying in detail as to particular words and deeds in life. He merely places them under the perfect law of liberty, love-the law which gives them perfect liberty to do all they please in harmony with love to God and man. He who loves much may give proportionately; he who loves little, may give little accordingly. Our Lord desires that each should thus show forth his own development. But shall they consider that this liberty which they enjoy as new creatures in Christ Jesus releases them from all obligations? Shall they consider that because' the Lord has not specified -that they must give one-tenth of their incomes, as He required of the Jew, under His Law covenant, therefore they are at liberty to give the one-twentieth, or the one fiftieth, or one-hundredth part, or nothing to the Lord's cause?
Yes, the Lord's children have just that liberty-that is, He will not withhold from us rain on this account, nor will He send pests as punishments, as He did with the Jews' under their covenant. Hence, nearly all who have been begotten from above, all true sons of God, would rather say, if it were proper that the Israelite according to the flesh should give one-tenth of all his income to benevolent purposes,, it is much more proper that we, the spiritual' seed of Abraham, who have been still more highly favored than the natural seed, should render some thank-offering unto the Lord our God. If the Jew, who had much advantage every way over the Gentile, should in all justice devote one-tenth of his income to holy things, how much more should we devote, who, by God's grace, have still greater advantages every way, as represented in the unsearchable riches of Christ and the hope of exaltation and glorification with Him.
The Spiritual Israelite and His Offering
Those who by faith accept the offer of this time of special privilege, come to see, through the illumination of the, Spirit, that entering into this covenant with the heavenly Father involves the complete and full surrender of themselves as living sacrifices, to be wholly His and to do only His will in all things. And since he who thus gives himself, gives his life and his all, it follows that all who make, this covenant of surrender and sacrifice to Him thereby have agreed to give to the Lord more than ten times as much as the Jew agreed to in his covenant. So then the obligation of the true spiritual Israelite, is the greater, not the lesser obligation of the two. Our obligation not only absorbs all the income and profit on our capital and labor, but additionally the capital, the life-principle itself.
While therefore the spiritual Israelite of this dispensation has a greater liberty than had the natural Israelite of the Jewish Age, in so far as the expressed commands of the Lord are concerned, we find that in proportion as he possesses the Spirit of the Lord, he will realize a much greater obligation than his Jewish brother, and where this obligation is realized and appreciated it will lead to faithfulness and fulness of devotion. As with the Jew, the Lord did not make the matter of tithing obligatory in the sense of enforcing it, so with the spiritual Israelite, He does not attempt to enforce his covenant obligation of full consecration, but takes note of our course in life as indicative of the measure of our love and appreciation of His mercies and blessings. Yet as God watched over the Israelites to give earthly blessings, profitable harvests, etc., to those who were faithful in tithing themselves, so' with spiritual Israel, the Lord watches over us to give us, not temporal blessings particularly, but spiritual bounties, and He gives them just in proportion as we are faithful in presenting our earthly lives and their treasures as a sacrifice, a sweet smelling savor to Him.
Are there those who stumble and. fall from the Truth after they have been once enlightened and after they have tasted of the heavenly gift and of the powers of the Age to come, after they have had much advantage in the ways mentioned? Are there those who are feeble and delicate in spiritual health and ready to be stumbled by the Adversary? If so, they are such as - have been unfaithful in" rendering unto the Lord their God that which they have covenanted. Or if they seem to have been energetic in His service and yet are stumbling, we may rest assured that it is because their energies and efforts were to be seen of men and were not of pure devotion to the Lord.
It is always well, yea, necessary and important, that our criticism should be chiefly turned inward to ourselves and that each should question himself rather than others on so important a subject as this. We may not always know who are the Lord's, but we may always know that "the Lord knoweth them that are His"--the heart-faithful. And we may be sure that these shall not stumble though they be permitted to pass through trials and reverses which would deceive and stumble, if it were possible, the "very elect." To these the Lord will, with every temptation, present also a way of escape; He will succor them because they are His. The Apostle Peter solemnly suggests, "If ye do these things ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Let Us Fear Lest We Come Short
May we each and all therefore look to his own condition of heart and judge himself whether or not he is rich in the Spirit of the Lord, whether or not his soul is fat, whether or not he is growing in grace and in love as well as in knowledge. Those who find on inspection such fatness of soul, may well rejoice, yet nevertheless, as the Apostle says, rejoice with fear lest the present condition of Divine favor and blessing should give place and some earthborn cloud arise to hide the Heavenly Father from the eye of faith. Those who, upon self-examination, find leanness of soul, spiritual poverty, lack of progress, or perhaps a retrogression in spiritual matters, should bear in remembrance the Apostle's words, "let us fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." - Heb. 4:1.
Nevertheless, let not such be discouraged, but hearken further to the Word of the Lord to Israel of old, in which He says to them in the words of the text, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, . . . and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." May we all who desire to find blessings in rich and overflowing measure, take the Lord at His word, and present to Him the offerings which we have already consecrated and which are not our own, first, because we were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and second, because, recognizing this fact, we solemnly consecrated ourselves to the Lord, surrendering all for eternity to Him.
Labor not for Meat that Perisheth
As we carry on the work of self-examination, let us in proportion as we have been lax or careless in the past, and unfaithful to our vows, put forth renewed energy to compensate so far as possible for past neglect, "redeeming the time, remembering also that "the days are evil," that the times in which we live are unfavorable, and that the tendency of our day is increasingly toward selfishness and the self-life, away from God.
Those whose consecration will be thus revived, will no longer find themselves more interested and drawn to earthly things and the meat that perisheth, than to the spiritual riches and the bread of eternal life, but contrariwise will seek and find opportunities not only of honoring the Lord in their ordinary vocations, but also will seek and find special opportunities of ministering to others, especially to fellow-brethren in the Narrow Way. And in proportion as each becomes earnestly desirous of living for the Lord and of keeping his heart in the love of God, he will find it desirable, yea, necessary, to seek supplies at the Throne of Grace and the family altar daily, as well as to lift up his heart frequently in private to the Lord in thankfulness or in prayer for help in time of need. And likewise, at the close of every day, those who have been desirous of pleasing and serving the Lord, will desire to render their report and to inspect themselves and the efforts which they have made, that thus they may stimulate themselves in the heavenly race and renew their vows of consecration. Moreover, those who are thus wholly given over to the Lord and who seek first or chiefly His righteousness and a place in His Kingdom, will very generally find opportunities for meeting together with others of like precious faith, to encourage one another and to build one another up in that blessed and sacred faith, and so much the more as they see the Day drawing on.
"I will not leave you comfortless [or orphans]: I will come to you." - John 14:18.
IN THESE words of the Savior we have an "I will not" and an "I will" in close and significant conjunction. One seems to show us the negative, and the other the positive side of Christ's love. The first suggests His knowledge, feeling, responsibility, etc., with regard to His disciples, and the second the activity of His love. He will not leave them orphans, He will come unto them. We who have become disciples of Christ know that these words apply to ourselves, as well as to those to whom they were originally spoken; and we who know the needs of the spiritual life will lay hold of such a promise as this and appropriate it in all its fulness.
"I will not leave You Comfortless [Orphans]"
Let us look at the prospect that lay before the disciples. Whichever way we turn, it was a comfortless one. The loss of Christ was the loss of all, the loss of the head, the loss of the great object of life, the bereavement of themselves so that they must be left in a condition of orphanage, with all the evils consequent to that helpless state. Jesus made provision for all this gloomy prospect when He promised that He would riot leave them orphaned. What a terrible loss it would have been, to His disciples had Christ gone away never to return, lever to have sent His Holy Spirit. He was the Head of this little family. To Him they had been accustomed to look up as Teacher, Lord, and all in all; in all their ignorance He was their adviser. In all their difficulties He was their helper; and although they were no doubt much to each other in holy brotherhood, still their relation to one another was founded upon their common relationship to Him. Just as it is today, and has always been. Lei: Jesus be severed from them, let their bond with Him be broken, and there remained nothing to hold them to each other.
How sorely we miss the earthly head of a family when he has filled the headship in the way which God designed. We never know what such a head is to us until he is removed; then when the great void is made, and there is no one to look to for counsel, no one for action; when we are thrown upon our own resources, then we realize what it is to be left alone. Jesus knew well what would be the condition of the disciples if 'He left them without the Comforter. Well did He know what He had been to them. He knew this fair better than they did, and acting upon His own knowledge He makes the promise, "I will not leave you comfortless." And is it not of great consolation to us also, that Christ acts toward us, out of His own knowledge, as He did toward those, His immediate disciples! Christ knows all that lies before His people, under all circumstances, and makes prevision accordingly. It is as though He said, I know what would happen if I were to leave you; do not fear, I will not leave you comfortless. We grow gradually more and more into the knowledge of His headship, His leadership; and into the deep feeling of our need of His comforting presence. Our Lord acts upon His knowledge and is often acting in the power of His headship when we may be coming sadly short of acting in the power of our membership. It is well for us to pause at times and ask ourselves if Christ is indeed our Head -- if we are always conscious of that relationship to us.
Christ Supplants Earthly Affection
There is another very important sense in which the disciples would have been left comfortless had Jesus wholly abandoned them. Such a departure would have involved the subtraction of the great object of their lives. The Apostles would have been left aimless, and without purpose. Christ had been the one prominent figure before them for many a long day. With Him they journeyed, and with Him they rested. With Him they lived and moved, and in Him every hope and thought was centered. Mistaken though they were about the immediate restoration of the kingdom of Israel and their own consequent exaltation, still' everything was connected with their great Master, and so to take Him away was to take all. There is always some object which is the mainspring of life, and when that is removed, the wheels stand still. Now the Master knew what would be the misery of His disciples thus left without their one object in life. He knew that their nets could never be to them what they had been before, and that the receipt of custom had lost the exclusive charm. He knew that it was He Himself who had displaced these as life's great object, substituting Himself in their place, and now if He went away from them, what remained for them but an aimless life. We cannot imagine Christ calmly contemplating this without making provision for it, and this He did: "I will not leave you comfortless."
All true disciples are very much in the position of those to whom our Lord here speaks. Christ has become to such the great object in life. He has not taken away all life's interests, or diminished the fondness of natural affection, but He has placed Himself above them all, He has substituted Himself for whatever ruled the heart, and has become the object of that heart's affection, and that mind's thought, so that "they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose, again."
Though joining Christ in true fellowship, becoming His disciples, involves the loss of earthly interests, Christ has effectually provided for this by substitution. He always gives more than He takes. Some may be afraid to take this step, thinking only of what they shall lose, not realizing what they shall gain. But those who have taken this step of consecration, have personally realized that Christ has substituted Himself and all His interest and concern for that which formerly absorbed the heart-and to their great gain. The very fact that Christ has done this is an evidence that He will not depart from His followers and leave them comfortless, for. He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." He substitutes Himself, the imperishable One, for all that passeth away. He gives Himself, to His people, He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever."
Friend to the Friendless
We know that none are so helplesss as the orphan. All the little needs of daily life are seldom thought of by any save a parent. All the little sorrows of life are feebly felt, except by a parent's heart, and thus helpless must the disciples have been if their connection with Christ were now to be broken off by death. Who in all the world could supply their need, even supposing the need were known? The needs of the disciples were such, that the world could not meet, and this the Savior knew. The aspect of a helpless family was that which met His view if His disciples were permanently bereft of Him. And even now Christ will never allow this picture of a deserted family to become a reality. He will never desert even the weakest' of those who have cast in their lot with Him. We need never be afraid of becoming forlorn or friendless since we have embraced Christ. We can take His promises to ourselves. We are His disciples. This promise is to us as well as to the Apostles. "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you."
Let us look at the prospect of orphaned disciples in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ personally. Their Master was, if we might so speak, bound to take care of them as He had influenced. them to give up all for Him. We know that the "all" was very little, still it was all to them, and God looks at things relatively, as well as absolutely. He estimates that which is given according to the capacity: of the one who gives. Is it not a comforting thought that God looks at things in this light-that He puts His own and not man's value on the two mites, that He knows our feelings, and what it may cost us to do, or give, or give up, any thing for Him, to make this sacrifice, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God. Christ puts Himself in the place of all that is given up. Christ will never disavow the consequences of this act by which we gave up all for Him. Whenever we can clearly trace a connection between our sufferings and the One for whom' we suffer, we may always rest assured that that One will never leave us, nor forsake us.
He Knows How to Fill the Void
All true children of the Lord, know how amply He makes up to them for every sacrifice for Him. Yes, in truth, the love of Christ is in itself great compensation for all we give up. We remember what Paul said in Phil. 3:8: "Yea doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ." This love of Christ has an expulsive power, so that it and the world cannot affiliate. If our minds are much occupied with thoughts of holiness, of the meek and lowly Jesus, how He lived and walked on earth, we will feel a shrinking from worldly things. God knows that where the heart is given to Him, the life will assuredly be, given too, and this motive of obedience is not so much of duty, but of love. So this world is to be given up because of love; and that love supplies the great compensation-Christ substitutes Himself. He is with us in our new tasks and new pursuits. He knows what each one gives up for Him, and He knows how to fill the void.
Bearing in mind that Jesus knew what would happen to the disciples if they were left to themselves, He recognized that they, like sheep, would be scattered abroad, if He, the Shepherd, were permanently removed and no comforter sent. He knew all that lay before His disciples in their upward and onward struggle-a struggle and a mission on which He Himself had sent them and for which they were wholly unqualified apart from Him. From Him they had received the mighty impulse for a new life; they like others had through much tribulation to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and which of them were in themselves sufficient for these things? They needed their Leader as well as their Teacher.
Meat of which the World Knows not
We can contemplate also the difficulty which these disciples would have in retaining their, union with Christ. He was taken from them by an ignominious death. All the world scoffed at them as followers of a dead malefactor. How could they cling to Him? The trial would have been too much for them. The Christian clings to an individual, to Christ Himself, and not to a creed. Christ knows well the difficulties that beset His disciples in retaining their union with Him. He also knows that being linked, to an abstraction-a system' of truth-will never carry them where He would have them be, and so He provides for His personal union with them now. We retain our union in the power of a personal attachment to a living Being personally attached to us. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. There must not only be vitality in us to cling to Him, but there must be vitality in Him to inject sap into us.
So as we survey this side of the subject we realize that separation from the world does not involve an orphaned or comfortless condition. We who have broken off affinities with it, have become connected with higher infinities in Christ, infinitely higher. We have meat to eat which the world knows not of. By our own faults we may be for a season left comfortless, we may hide ourselves from the Savior. We may not clearly see the One who lives for us, and still is ours, though our eyes are so dim that we know not He is near. Such a condition may come to us, but it is not Christ who has left us. His promise is unbroken, though we are suffering from our own fault "'suffering comfortless." Yet happy is he who is suffering and comfortless without his Lord, for his grief is a witness that he lives. The existence of a life may be manifested by a tear, as well as by a smile, by the voice of weeping, as well as by the voice of joy.
Present Help in Time of Need
And now comes the promise of the Lord: "I will come unto you"-or as it is in the Greek, "I am coming to you." We believe the primary meaning attached to this promise has reference to the sending of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord gives us to understand that all the ministrations of the Spirit are His own ministrations. Our Lord's promise implied that the Holy Spirit which the Father would send in Jesus' name would be to His followers a "present help in every time of need," that they would be helped, encouraged, and strengthened by that holy -power that would guide, direct, and enable His people to walk by faith and not by sight. This power of God is with the whole Church, and yet each receives the influence of the Holy Spirit personally by individual connection with the channel of the Spirit. This comforting and strengthening Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
It was necessary too that our Lord should make a personal appearance to the disciples after His resurrection, and before His ascension. The grief of the disciples was connected with the departure of their Lord, and we can easily understand how the reappearance of the Lord would comfort their hearts. The great loneliness would pass away. Death brings with it the most saddening loneliness which falls to the lot of man, and in proportion as we have become bound up in a single object, in that proportion comes the desolation of loneliness when that object is removed. Jesus had been all to His disciples, and when they lost Him they lost all, but when lie returned they got all back again. Their hopes were revived. And it is an eternal source of comfort that Christ dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over Him. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore." Christ hath ascended into heaven, and the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, has been sent as an eternal source of comfort to His children.
We are Serving a Living Lord
It was in a body of flesh that the disciples saw our Lord after His resurrection. They knew that henceforth they had no more to do with a dead Christ, but that now He was a living Christ. They had witnessed His ascension. "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight." He is now far beyond the world's reach, "sitting on the right hand of the Father." He is our Advocate, as well as our Comforter. His disciples are living in Him and by Him, and thus deriving all benefits from Him. We are serving a living Lord, and we should be ever rising higher and higherr above the world and all the interests of the world. All the interests of the world are perishable: all concerned with our. living Christ are eternal.
Going back to the disciples, we remember how they were assembled at Jerusalem, a company of troubled ones. Without were fightings, within were fears. They were weak in faith. Before them. lay an unknown future. The one cure. for all their sorrows was Christ's manifestation to them. And so He stood in the midst of them and said, "Peace be unto you." So Christ's manifestation of Himself is the great cure for the troubled heart. No doubt one cause of the disciples' troubles was their imperfect apprehension of the truth. They could not have full knowledge until the Spirit came upon them, and so having only part of the truth concerning Christ's resurrection and plan, they were confused and perhaps confounded. And perhaps even we who are responsible by reason of having come into Christ and received the Holy Spirit may have learned only part of some important truths, and thus when certain experiences come into our lives we are confused and perhaps confounded. We should strive to have our apprehension of truth more perfect, to be growing in knowledge and in grace.
Discerning Christ in Various Experiences
Another part of the disciples' troubles arose from an unaccustomed manifestation. Jesus appeared to them in a different body and in an unfamiliar form. To these they were wholly unaccustomed. And so we may realize a lesson here: Christ manifests Himself to His followers in different aspects at different times and under different circumstances. May we so appreciate Christ's teachings through the Holy Spirit that when He manifests Himself in any way, we -may not be troubled, but recognize that it is Christ Himself.
There is another aspect in which this trouble of the disciples must be viewed.. They were all in trouble together; they could not help each other. And so with us, there are times when no one on earth can help us, not even our spiritual brethren. They themselves may be as much perplexed as we are. The lack is in their power, and not in their will. And it may be that God would speak to us and say, Your comfort, your peace lies not in the many any more than in the few. You will not find comfort among your fellowmen, but from One, even Jesus Christ. The revelation of Jesus Christ Himself is the solution of trouble, and it was upon-the-full manifestation of His identity that the disciples obtained peace. We read in Rev. 1:17, 18, how John was comforted: "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." Thus by declaring His identity, He brought peace and comfort. What could give us more comfort than the knowledge that the Lord we are now in union with, can be identified as the One who came to earth and died that we might live? While here on earth none endured such pain as He, none was so isolated and alone, none was so maligned. But in resurrection life He receives glory for all the sufferings of the past. He is an High Priest forever set on the right hand of God. Thus we receive comfort from the knowledge of the identity of the Christ on earth with the Christ in heaven. It is this Christ that we have taken as our own, hearing Him say to us, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
"The Lord our righteousness." - Jer. 23:6; 33:16.
THE "righteousness of [or from] God," which "now," "apart from law," "has been manifested" in the life and death of the Savior; the righteousness which is "attested by the Law and the Prophets," is still further elaborated by the Apostle. It is "even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." - Rom. 3:22.
These words are obviously in explanation of what has just been said, in Romans 3:21. The expression "righteousness of God" is capable of more than one meaning, and the Apostle would leave us in no doubt as to which meaning he intends-to which righteousness, of God he refers. His words have been well paraphrased by another thus: "God's righteousness, I have said, has been manifested. It is true; and an all-important truth. But let it be borne in mind that the righteousness of which I speak is not that in the possession of which God Himself is righteous; but it is that which He has provided for unrighteous men-that which is to them through faith in Jesus Christ." This explanatory use of the word "even" may be seen elsewhere in the' Scriptures, as for example: "The Gentiles . . have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which', is of faith." (Rom. 9:30.) "He [Jesus] . . . became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." - Phil. 2:8.
Through Faith in Jesus
"When the Apostle says, 'through [or by] faith of Jesus Christ' . . . he evidently means, 'through faith in Jesus Christ.' The genitive of the Savior's complex name is objective. . . . Compare such expressions as . 'the faith of the Gospel' (Phil. 1:27); 'faith' or 'belief of the truth.' (2 Thess. 2:13.)" See also James 2:1. "My brethren, have not the faith o f our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." In these passages the evident intention of the inspired writers is "faith in the: Gospel"; "faith, or belief in the truth"; "faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." Some, however, have supposed that in Rom. 3:22 the reference is not to faith in Jesus but to faith possessed by Jesus, that faith which He maintained even through the ordeal of the crucifixion. There can be no doubt, however, that the faith here spoken of is the same as that referred to in the great theme text of this Epistle (Romans 1:17), and also in Romans 9:30, quoted above. In neither of these texts is there any mention of Jesus Christ, and consequently there is no room for supposing that the faith referred to is that possessed by Him.
Faith brings Jesus near
The word "faith" we have already discussed in connection with Romans 1:17. (See Meditations Nos. 13 and 14.)
"Its import is nothing recondite; otherwise it would be a term altogether unsuitable for being used in an exhibition of the duty of universal _man, uncultured as well as cultured. Faith is such a persuasion or conviction of the mind in reference to things unseen, and so far as direct intuition is concerned, unknown, as supplies 'the place of vision or invisaging. Its moral power, in its relation to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is resolvable into the peculiarity of its object, and not into any peculiarity in the act. What is needed, consequently, in order to continuous, and continuously increasing, peace, joy, hope, gratefulness, holiness, and devotedness, is that faith be continuously, and with continuously increasing breadth and depth of range, directed to its glorious object. He who 'lives by faith' in Jesus, is continuously present with Jesus ' in the most exalted way in which presence can be realized; . . . -in mind, in thought. And the power of the presence of Jesus . . . is, when the presence becomes' to the inner eye intensely self-evidencing and luminous, imperial. It is apparently in virtue of this mighty moral power of faith in Jesus that it has been divinely invested with what is called its justifying function."
Unto All and upon All
Scholars tell us that "there is some difficulty in determining the correct reading of the clause which in our Authorized Version is translated "unto all and upon all them that believe." The phrase "and upon all" is not found in the four oldest Greek manuscripts, yet as we learned in Meditations No. 7, this fact though of considerable weight is not necessarily conclusive. In the present case the great body of critics agree that "it seems to be more difficult to account for its admission into the text [of those manuscripts and ancient translations which contain it], if spurious, than, for its omission [from those documents which do not contain it], if genuine." If the genuine text read:, "unto all and upon all them that believe," it is easy to understand how a copyist could have written "unto all them that believe, accidentally, or (through a failure to distinguish the two thoughts of the Apostle), intentionally omitting the words "and upon all." On the other hand if the genuine text read: "unto all them that believe," it is very unlikely' that a copyist would have accidentally interpolated the words, "and upon all," and it is not easy to understand why he should have intentionally done so.
But what then, is the distinction between the phrases "unto all" and "upon all"? Many expositors see no distinction, but believe that the Apostle is merely repeating one idea for the sake of intensity. "I see no difference," says one, "more than betwixt Aaron's beard, and the beard of Aaron." Yet, as another has observed, the Apostle was "fond of using his prepositions distinguishingly," as for example, in Rom. 9:36, "For of Him and through Him, and to Him, are all things." (Here, surely, he is saying three things, not repeating one thing three times.) "And it should certainly be our very last resort to suppose that his discriminative use of the two which are employed in the case before us is unmeaning. There does seem to be an ascent in the thought. And unless it is utterly impossible to work out this climatic idea-in consistency with sobriety, and with the scope of revelation, and with the facts of human experience-we should not fall back upon the idea of mere indiscriminative accumulation."
Unto all Men--Upon all Believers
It would be unbecoming in us to express our view of this passage dogmatically, especially in view of the difficulty scholars have experienced in determining the correct reading of the text, yet we cannot but think that they accurately grasp the Apostle's meaning who understand the words "unto all" to refer to all men, and the words, "upon all" to all believers 'This glorious righteousness of God, which "now," 'apart from law, "has been manifested"; this righteousness which is "witnessed by the Law and the Prophets"; this righteousness which is "by faith in Jesus Christ"; -this righteousness is "unto all" men.. The Apostle, we think, does but parallel here a thought that is elsewhere expressed in the Scriptures: Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6); He "tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9); "Be is the propitiation . . for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2.) These expressions would appear to be but other aspects of the idea that the evangelical righteousness of God is unto all. The Gospel of God's grace-which equally announces the ransom, the death-tasting, the propitiation, and the righteousness-is a message of mercy to "every man that cometh into the world."
Justification may Lapse
But while this righteousness is as universal in its invitation as the need for it is universal, its actual possession and enjoyment is limited to them that believe. It is "unto all" in the unlimited offers of the Gospel; -- it is "upon" them only that believe. It is, moreover, upon them that believe only while they believe. (See Meditations No. 15.) "For continuousness of faith is necessary in order to the continuous enjoyment of the blessings that are wrapped up in the Divine, evangelical righteousness. The life must be a 'life of faith.' Momentary faith may, indeed, suffice for momentary blessings. More than momentary, and yet temporary, faith may suffice for more than momentary, yet temporary blessings. But perpetual faith-faith that is 'held unto the end,'-is needed for perennial life, for everlasting glory."' This evangelical righteousness, this reckoned justification, or justification by faith, "holds good so long as faith continues and is backed by endeavors to do the Lord's will. If faith and obedience cease, at once the justification ceases to be imputed. "But it remains the fact-of such infinite value and fruitfulness is faith in God, as He has shown Himself in Jesus, that when a man first believes- aye, whenever, over and over again, he returns to believe-he is. in God's sight on a new basis, however dark be the background of his previous sins; and he can be dealt with simply on the new basis, according to the movement of the ' Father's heart of love which his faith has set free."
There is no Difference
"For there is no difference," continues the Apostle, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." -Ver. 22, 23.
The. Apostle "is not to be understood here as affirming the absurd and manifestly false proposition, that there is no diversity in the character of men, or in the respective measures of their guilt. It is true also, that we are far from being competent judges of the measures of evil and of guilt in different characters; and that He who searches the hearts and tries the reins, and with whom that which 'is highly esteemed amongst men' is so frequently 'abomination,' may in many cases see most where we might fancy there was least. But still differences there are differences in kind and degree. The Apostle does not mean to deny this." His words must be understood in the light of the subject under discussion. He is speaking of "them that believe" upon whom has come from God a precious "robe of righteousness," and he tells us, between believing Jews and believing Gentiles, so far as this evangelical righteousness of Gad is concerned "there is no difference. They are both in equal need of it, and for both it is equally available. Compare Romans 10:11, 12: "For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him."
"This principle of indifferentiation in relation to the righteousness of God is applicable to men, not only considered as Jews and Gentiles, but also considered in all possible diversities of physical, intellectual, moral, and social condition. There is no difference, in the matter referred to, between sovereigns, for instance, and their meanest subjects; between the cultured and the most uncultured; between the sage and savages; no difference between the most punctilious Pharisee who observes every ceremony of the church, and gathering up his garments, steps fastidiously aside from every indecency of social life, and the most reckless offcasts who 'rough it' on the highways of life, or riot and rot in the 'lowest of our city dens.
By BROTHER H. A. FRIESE
On Saturday, July 2nd, we left Springfield for New York and reached the city of Richmond early Sunday morning, which was the beginning of a two-day convention. It was two days of sweet fellowship and of "sitting together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Seven speaking services were held, with Brother Boulter and myself alternating on the program. There were also four very helpful testimony services. The attendance at the convention was very good, some friends coming considerable distance. The spirit was uniformly sweet and Christlike, and we parted with the dear ones at Richmond with much regret, not forgetting their lavish hospitality and thankful for the privilege of knowing them on this side the veil, trusting we all may be "faithful unto death" that we may, meet to part no more in the general assembly of the "Church of the Firstborn."
Tuesday, July 5th, we were taken to Seaford, Va., where we had the unique experience of holding an afternoon meeting on a houseboat on the river. While we spoke, the lapping water on the sides of - the boat gave a low, sweet music-a rhythm suggestive of the surroundings which must have accompanied the teaching of our beloved Lord on the Sea of Galilee. As one has written
At Roanoke we had an evening meeting on Wednesday, followed by a brief informal' question meeting. Thursday we were met at Lynchburg by dear Brother Dr. Canada, who although in limited health is still ardent in his love of the truth. Some friends came many miles to the evening meeting at Brother and Sister Canada's home.
At Washington, D. C. on Friday we had an evening meeting. One brother here was quite happy in having recently come out into the: liberty which is in Christ Jesus only. Well attended services were held in Wilmington, Philadelphia, Millville, and Atlantic City.
Our last scheduled stop was at the Institute in Brooklyn, where a good company of friends greeted us on Wednesday, July 13th. ' Here was enjoyed a very precious season of fellowship. Two Classes were served en route home - Bridgeport and Hartford, Conn., at both of which the attendance of friends was excellent.
We thank the dear Heavenly Father for the many blessings He gave all along the way, and count it an unspeakably great privilege to serve Him who binds on no fetters, but whose constraining love draws His consecrated followers with a sweet influence and an unseen but wondrous power known only to His own.
By BROTHER I. F. HOSKINS
As one moves amongst the various companies of the Lord's people with the earnest desire to be an instrument of spiritual blessing to others as well as to share in that blessing himself, he is sure to feel encouraged and refreshed in realizing the unmistakable evidence that the will of God and His gracious purposes are being accomplished in a faithful few of His children in these days, who are striving' to walk the narrow way. There are those who have waged a good warfare, contending earnestly for the eternal principles of the Christian faith, and who through all the tumult and the strife have maintained a quiet and confident attitude; and how good and how blessed it is to have fellowship with such! - Psa. 133.
Such was the experience: of this writer recently as he journeyed for a few days through a number of the Middle States as far west as the city of Chicago and met with some fourteen classes of brethren, participating with them in the joys of Christian fellowship. We will not here mention the details of each visit, for of course there is a similarity of experience from place to place. In the city of Pittsburgh we were privileged to greet again brethren whom we had known in the Lord for twenty-five years, and whose warm grasp of the hand and lighted countenance gave evidence of the spirit and joy of the Lord in them and that they were continuing steadfast in the faith, with the hope of reaching the glorious goal. It was uplifting to behold Christ's image being clearly formed in these who had spent long years striving to keep before them the vision of the Master.
As we met with the dear ones at Dayton, Ohio, it was gratifying to find in the company some fifteen of the friends who had come from another city not far distant-Richmond, Ind.; they were a; company of brethren who within the last year or two have realized their _privilege of coming apart from their former association where they have felt keenly the bondage of human headship and of a human system, and now had been made to experience afresh the new freedom in Christ. It was indeed inspiring to observe these evidences of the Shepherd's tender love, caring for His sheep in this time of crucial trial.
In the city of Chicago on Sunday it was most refreshing to meet a company of more than 60 brethren who had gathered from considerable distance. The fellowship here was with such as were longing- to possess more abundantly of the power of the new life within and who were desirous of imparting a blessing as well as receiving one. Other places visited were such as Newark, Columbus, Cincinnati; Harvey and Roseland, Ill.; Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester. In all of these places we are sure that we were brought face to face with noble and earnest disciples of Christ, who are diligently striving to gain the mastery over all obstacles and to attain the character-likeness of their Divine Master.
Frequently too our heart was touched with deep sympathy in becoming acquainted with the sore trials, heart aches and distressing experiences with which many 'are meeting in these days. And the brethren are realizing increasingly that the Lord is trying the, faith of His true children and causing to be manifest those who are really loyal to Him and desirous of having His will fully done in them. The conviction seems unavoidable that the tests of the present hour are making it more apparent that the, overcoming saints arc becoming fewer in number as the days go by. One is, further impressed in these days too in observing, how those who show forth the greatest maturity of Christlikeness and nearness to the Lord, are deeply appreciative of those truths that relate to their spiritual life, that have to do with nourishing the new, man and of fostering a greater personal acquaintance with God and His holy will, Surely at such a time as this when the last members of the prospective Bride are all but ushered into the presence of the Heavenly Bridegroom, we would reasonably suppose that the burden on the part of all, such would be that of finishing their course acceptably and with joy. In this attitude of heart and mind such brethren are sure to be engaged in that service of love and, helpfulness toward one another that proves the genuineness of their relationship to the Lord and to each other; and accordingly, such are made to know and feel the power of that sublime bond of sympathy and of love that unites all the members of the Body of 'Christ, even as the Apostle wrote, "If one member suffer, all suffer," and as our blessed Master also gave to His disciples as His parting message: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you."
"Our dear Heavenly 'Father granted His Divine blessing upon His children in Buffalo and vicinity who gathered in convention for spiritual :profit, July 2, 3, and 4, 1932, at the Delta Temple, Buffalo, N. Y., being served by. able brethren from Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Buffalo territory. The attendance was good in view of the stressful times the largest attendance Saturday 60, Sunday 99, Monday 80. A light lunch was served in the same building during the whole convention which greatly improved the opportunity for much_ needed fellowship. Two thousand tracts were distributed in the neighborhood of the hall advertising a. public lecture for Sunday afternoon, but very few of the public responded-evidently considering earthly things of -greater importance. .
"This "occasion was reminiscent of olden times when Christians gathered' under great difficulties from distant points to converse with fellow members regarding their mutual concerns. Some, having quite recently gained their Christian equilibrium, were especially blessed, feeling much like famished travelers in desert lands who at last found the life-sustaining fluid How refreshing 'to' drink in the pellucid truth, so simple, yet so sublime. No new doctrines were proffered. It was simply the old, old story, which we have loved so long. All were encouraged to 'hold fast the confidence and the, rejoicing of the hope.' 'For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unt,o the end.'
"Thoughts which proved to be especially elevating were, those along the line of self-examination, character development, love of the brethren, sobriety, faithfulness and making our calling and election sure."
"We wish to tell you of the blessed time of fellowship and 'feast of fat things' that the brethren enjoyed here during the convention July 3 and 4. There were about 90 in attendance. ' The four discourses of the first day were pertaining to the New Creation and the importance' of our being thorough if we would succeed in making our calling and election sure. On the second day the brethren took Scripture texts for their topics; and we had a symposium on Faith, Hope, and Love. Meals were, served by the brethren twice each day, thus, giving opportunity for fellowship, helpfulness and encouraging one another to press toward the mark of our High Calling. The program was arranged so, that the friends had between sessions considerable' opportunity for fellowship and this was taken advantage of by all.
"We appreciated very much the services of Brothers McCoy and McKeown, who were able . to be with us. The convention closed with a Love Feast,, the friends being loath to part, after having such -a profitable time of sweet fellowship and oneness of spirit."
"A delightful season of fellowship and communion in all things of the Spirit was enjoyed by the friends at a two day convention at Hutchinson, Kans., July 3 and 4, friends from Kansas City, Wichita, and Topeka being present. As no Pilgrim brother was available, services were in the hands of local brethren and were exceedingly helpful and stimulating to faith. Joy in the Lord and deep gratitude for all His mercies was evident throughout the convention, The need of thus assembling frequently, and so much the more' as we see the day approaching was felt by all in attendance."
"On July 3 and 4, a group of about 100 Bible students gathered in a convention at. Milwaukee, Wis. The convention was providentially arranged, and apparently has already borne some fruit. Some of the brethren who had initiated a - move to have a convention in Milwaukee on the dates mentioned had dropped the matter for the time being for lack of definite support, when unexpectedly about twenty of the brethren expressed their disappointment and an earnest hope that a convention could be arranged as proposed. Immediate action was taken by telegraph and by mail, which resulted in the convention being held on the dates: mentioned.
"About a dozen brethren came from Chicago and fourteen from Minneapolis. Other brethren came from the smaller towns in Wisconsin, Illinois, and, as the writer recalls, two or three came from Michigan. Several Greek brethren were present, but the Polish brethren constituted the majority of those in attendance. The Polish friends opened their homes to the visiting brethren, and their great hospitality was deeply appreciated and the memory thereof will ever remain in the hearts of the brethren who were the recipients of the loving services rendered by them.
"The convention was one of the richest in, spiritual blessing that the writer ever attended: The testimonies were ringing with praise to our loving Heavenly Father for all His goodness and grace. There was a marked absence criticism of others who might differ with us. The main desire of the brethren, as expressed in the testimonies and. in' the discourses, was to attain more and more of the likeness of the Master-a prayer, so to speak, that we might think, talk, and act as He did, A brother from Chicago, who had left the former association about two years_ ago, greatly enriched the convention by several beautiful solos, as did a chorus of three brothers and four sisters from Minneapolis. Probably the most touching moment of the' convention was when the chairman (a brother seventy-five years of age) immediately after one of the discourses-called his wife to the piano to play the old consecration hymn, 'Where He leads me, I will follow,' while he, with closed, eves, led the brethren in singing. This gripped the writer's heart to the extent that it was impossible to keep the tears back, and this was also the testimony of several other brethren.
"At the close of the convention it was found that there was a, balance on hand of approximately $30.00; and recognizing the blessings received through the ministry of the 'Herald,' a motion was unanimously passed that one-half of that amount be forwarded to the 'Herald' office for such use in the service as they might see fit. The balance was to be held as a reserve fund for a future convention' which' the brethren hope may be arranged.
"Numerous prayers had ascended to the Throne of 'Grace, ' not only from those who did attend but also from those; who could not attend, that the convention might prove a lasting blessing. We believe that these prayers were beard; and in this connection it is of the keenest interest that a'. Bible study class was started in Milwaukee, the first meet--, in being held on the Wednesday following the convention. Truly, the Lord can and will work wonderfully, in our behalf if we but resign ourselves fully to His leading."