ANOTHER GOSPEL by A. W. Pink


BOOKLETS AND PAMPHLETS
by A. W. Pink
ANOTHER GOSPEL
SATAN IS NOT AN INITIATOR but an imitator. God has an only begotten
Son-the Lord Jesus, so has Satan-“the son of Perdition” (

2
Thessalonians 2:3). There is a Holy Trinity, and there is likewise a Trinity
of Evil (

Revelation 20:10). Do we read of the “children of God,” so
also we read of “the children of the wicked one” (

Matthew 13:38).
Does God work in the former both to will and to do of His good pleasure,
then we are told that Satan is “the spirit that now worketh in the children
of disobedience” (

Ephesians 2:2). Is there a “mystery of godliness”
(

1 Timothy 3:16), so also is there a “mystery of iniquity” (

2
Thessalonians 2:7). Are we told that God by His angels “seals” His
servants in their foreheads (

Revelation 7:3), so also we learn that Satan
by his agents sets a mark in the foreheads of his devotees (

Revelation
13:16). Are we told that “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep
things of God” (

1 Corinthians 2:10), then Satan also provides his “deep
things” (Greek-

Revelation 2:24). Did Christ perform miracles, so also
can Satan (

2 Thessalonians 2:9). Is Christ seated upon a throne, so is
Satan (Greek-

Revelation 2:13). Has Christ a Church, then Satan has his
“synagogue” (

Revelation 2:9). Is Christ the Light of the world, then so
is Satan himself “transformed into an angel of light” (

2 Corinthians
11:14). Did Christ appoint “apostles,” then Satan has his apostles, too
(

2 Corinthians 11:13). And this leads us to consider: “The Gospel of
Satan.”
Satan is the arch-counterfeiter. The Devil is now busy at work in the same
field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the
growth of the wheat by another plant, the tares, which closely resembles
the wheat in appearance. In a word, by a process of imitation he is aiming
to neutralize the Work of Christ. Therefore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan
has a gospel too; the latter being a clever counterfeit of the former. So
closely does the gospel of Satan resemble that which it parodies, multitudes
of the unsaved are deceived by it.
It is to this gospel of Satan the apostle refers when he says to the
Galatians“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that
called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is.3
not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert
the Gospel of Christ” (

Galatians 1:6,7).
This false gospel was being heralded even in the days of the apostle, and a
most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The
apostle continues, “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any
other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him
be accursed.” By the help of God we shall now endeavor to expound, or
rather, expose this false gospel.
The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a
program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace
and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father
against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is
regarded as one great “brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the
natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and
cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within – It aims to make this
world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from
it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man
so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the
world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and
benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind
to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses,
because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature,
alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his
only hope lies in being born again.
In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches
salvation by works. It inculcates justification before God on the ground of
human merits. Its sacramental phrase is “Be good and do good”; but it fails
to recognize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces
salvation by character, which reverses the order of God’s Word—character
by, as the fruit of, salvation. Its various ramifications and organizations are
manifold. Temperance, Reform Movements, “Christian Socialist Leagues,”
Ethical Culture Societies, “Peace Congresses” are all employed (perhaps
unconsciously) in proclaiming this gospel of Satan—salvation by works.
The pledge card is substituted for Christ; social purity for individual
regeneration, and politics and philosophy, for doctrine and godliness. The
cultivation of the old man is considered more practical than the creation of.4
a new man in Christ Jesus; whilst universal peace is looked for apart from
the interposition and return of the Prince of Peace.
The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers,
but are for the most part ordained ministers. Thousands of those who
occupy our modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the
fundamentals of the Christian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth
and have given heed unto fables. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin
and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring
that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good. Instead of warning
their hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by
declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own
creatures to eternal torment. Instead of declaring that “without shedding of
blood is no remission,” they merely hold up Christ as the great Exemplar
and exhort their hearers to “follow in His steps.” Of them it must be said,
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to
establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves
unto the righteousness of God” (

Romans 10:3).
Their message may sound very plausible and their aim appear very
praiseworthy, yet we read of them—
“for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves (imitating) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel;
for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it
is no great thing [not to be wondered at] if his ministers also be
transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be
according to their works” (

2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader
who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of
salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of
people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the Truth themselves.
The family altar, where a portion of God’s Word was wont to be read daily
is now, even in the homes of nominal Christians, largely a thing of the past.
The Bible is not expounded in the pulpit and it is not read in the pew. The
demands of this rushing age are so numerous, that multitudes have little
time and still less inclination to make preparation for the meeting with God.
Hence the majority who are too indolent to search for themselves, are left
at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them; many of whom.5
betray their trust by studying and expounding economic and social
problems rather than the Oracles of God.
In

Proverbs 14:12 we read, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a
man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” This “way” which ends in”
death” is the Devil’s Delusion—the gospel of Satan—a way of salvation by
human attainment. It is a way which “seemeth right,” that is to say, it is
presented in such a plausible way that it appeals to the natural man: it is set
forth in such a subtle and attractive manner, that it commends itself to the
intelligence of its hearers. By virtue of the fact that it appropriates to itself
religious terminology, sometimes appeals to the Bible for its support
(whenever this suits its purpose), holds up before men lofty ideals, and is
proclaimed by those who have graduated from our theological institutions,
countless multitudes are decoyed and deceived by it.
The success of an illegitimate coiner depends largely upon how closely the
counterfeit resembles the genuine article. Heresy is not so much the total
denial of the truth as a perversion of it. That is why half a lie is always
more dangerous than a complete repudiation. Hence when the Father of
Lies enters the pulpit it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental
truths of Christianity, rather does he tacitly acknowledge them, and then
proceed to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application. For
example: he would not be so foolish as to boldly announce his disbelief in a
personal God; he takes His existence for granted and then gives a false
description of His character. He announces that God is the spiritual Father
of all men, when the Scriptures plainly tell us that we are “the children of
God by faith in Christ Jesus” (

Galatians 3:26), and that
“as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the
sons of God” (

John 1:12).
Further, he declares that God is far too merciful to ever send any member
of the human race to Hell, when God Himself has said,
“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into
the Lake of Fire” (

Revelation 20:15).
Again; Satan would not be so foolish as to ignore the central figure of
human history—the Lord Jesus Christ; on the contrary, his gospel
acknowledges Him to be the best man that ever lived. Attention is drawn
to His deeds of compassion and works of mercy, the beauty of His
character and the sublimity of His teaching. His life is eulogized, but His.6
vicarious Death is ignored, the all-important atoning work of the cross is
never mentioned, whilst His triumphant and bodily resurrection from the
grave is regarded as one of the credulities of a superstitious age. It is a
bloodless gospel, and presents a crossless Christ, who is received not as
God manifest in the flesh, but merely as the Ideal Man.
In

2 Corinthians 4:3 we have a scripture which sheds much light upon
our present theme. There we are told, “if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to
them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the
minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of
Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them.” He blinds the
minds of unbelievers through hiding the light of the Gospel of Christ, and
he does this by substituting his own gospel. Appropriately is he designated
“The Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world” (

Revelation
12:9). In merely appealing to “the best that is within man,” and in simply
exhorting him to “lead a nobler life” there is afforded a general platform
upon which those of every shade of opinion can unite and proclaim this
common message.
Again we quote

Proverbs 14:12—“There is a way which seemeth right
unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It has been said
with considerable truth that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions.
There will be many in the Lake of Fire who commended life with good
intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals—those who were just in
their dealings, fair in their transactions and charitable in all their ways; men
who prided themselves in their integrity but who sought to justify
themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral,
merciful and magnanimous, but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost,
hell-deserving sinners needing a Saviour. Such is the way which “seemeth
right.” Such is the way that commends itself to the carnal mind and
recommends itself to multitudes of deluded ones today. The Devil’s
Delusion is that we can be saved by our own works, and justified by our
own deeds; whereas, God tells us in His Word : “By grace are ye saved
through faith…not of works lest any man should boast.” And again, “Not
by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His
mercy He saved us.”
A few years ago the writer became acquainted with one who was a lay
preacher and an enthusiastic “Christian worker.” For over seven years this
friend had been engaged in public preaching and religious activities, but.7
from certain expressions and phrases he used, the writer doubted whether
this friend was a “born again” man. When we began to question him, it was
found that he was very imperfectly acquainted with the Scriptures and had
only the vaguest conception of Christ’s Work for sinners. For a time we
sought to present the way of salvation in a simple and impersonal manner
and to encourage our friend to study the Word for himself, in the hope that
if he were still unsaved God would be pleased to reveal the Saviour he
needed.
One night to our joy, the one who had been preaching the Gospel (?) for
several years, confessed that he had found Christ only the previous night.
He acknowledged (to use his own words) that he had been presenting “the
Christ ideal” but not the Christ of the Cross. The writer believes there are
thousands like this preacher who, perhaps, have been brought up in Sunday
School, taught about the birth, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ, who
believe in the historicity of His person, who spasmodically endeavor to
practice His precepts, and who think that that is all that is necessary for
their salvation. Frequently, this class when they reach manhood go out into
the world, encounter the attacks of atheists and infidels and are told that
such a person as Jesus of Nazareth never lived. But the impressions of
early days cannot be easily erased, and they remain steadfast in their
declaration that they “believe in Jesus Christ.” Yet, when their faith is
examined, only too often it is found that though they believe many things
about Jesus Christ they do not really believe in him. They believe with the
head that such a person lived (and, because they believe this imagine that
therefore they are saved), but they have never thrown down the weapons
of their warfare against Him, yielded themselves to Him, nor truly believed
with their heart in Him.
The bare acceptance of an orthodox doctrine about the person of Christ
without the heart being won by Him and the life devoted to Him, is another
phase of that way “which seemeth right unto a man” but the end thereof
are “the ways of death.” A mere intellectual assent to the reality of Christ’s
person, and which goes no further, is another phase of the way which
“seemeth right unto a man” but of which the end thereof “are the ways of
death,” or, in other words, is another aspect of the gospel of Satan.
And now, where do you stand? Are you in the way which “seemeth right,”
but which ends in death; or, are you in the Narrow Way which leadeth unto
life? Have you truly forsaken the Broad Road which leadeth to death? Has.8
the love of Christ created in your heart a hatred and horror of all that is
displeasing to Him? Are you desirous that he should “reign over” you?
(

Luke 19:14). Are you relying wholly on His righteousness and blood
for your acceptance with God?
Those who are trusting to an outward form of godliness, such as baptism
or “confirmation!” those who are religious because it is considered a mark
of respectability; those who attend some Church or Chapel because it is the
fashion to do so; and, those who unite with some Denomination because
they suppose that such a step will enable them to become Christians, are in
the way which “ends in death”—death spiritual and eternal. However pure
our motives, however noble our intentions, however well-meaning our
purposes, however sincere our endeavors, God will not acknowledge us as
His sons, until we accept His Son.
A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to
present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all
God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of
impenitent souls are deluded into thinking they have been saved. But Christ
said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (

Luke 13:3). To
“repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over it, to turn from it. It is the result of
the Spirits making the heart contrite before God. None except a broken
heart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, thousands are deceived into supposing that they have “accepted
Christ” as their “personal Saviour,” who have not first received Him as
their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save His people in their
sin, but “from their sins” (

Matthew 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to
be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon
the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to “forsake our way”
(

Isaiah 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His
dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has
never taken Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently
seeking to please Him in all the details of life, and yet supposes that he is
“resting on the Finished Work of Christ” is deluded by the Devil.
In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us
approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan s counterfeit.
First, in verses 13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate
and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which.9
go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Second; in verses 22-23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied [preached] in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out
demons, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I
profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work
iniquity.” Yes, my reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and
even to preach in his name, and though the world knows us, the Church
knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How necessary is it then to find
out where we really are; to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the
faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being
deceived by our subtle Enemy; to find out whether we are building our
house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Jesus
Christ. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our
enmity against God, work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our
gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world..10
ANXIETY
“Be anxious for nothing”—( Philippians 4:6)
WORRYING is as definitely forbidden as theft. This needs to be carefully
pondered and definitely realized by us, so that we do not excuse it as an
innocent “infirmity.” The more we are convicted of the sinfulness of
anxiety, the sooner are we likely to perceive that it is most dishonoring to
God, and “strive against” it (

Hebrews 12:4). But how are we to “strive
against” it?
First, by begging the Holy Spirit to grant us a deeper conviction of its
enormity.
Second, by making it a subject of special and earnest prayer, that we
may be delivered from this evil.
Third, by watching its beginning, and as soon as we are conscious of
harassment of mind, as soon as we detect the unbelieving thought, lift
up our heart to God and ask Him for deliverance from it.
The best antidote for anxiety is frequent meditation upon God’s goodness,
power and sufficiency. When the saint can confidently realize “The Lord is
My Shepherd,” he must draw the conclusion, “I shall not want!”
Immediately following our exhortation is, “but in everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto
God.” Nothing is too big and nothing is too little to spread before and cast
upon the Lord. The “with thanksgiving” is most important, yet it is the
point at which we most fail. It means that before we receive God’s answer,
we thank Him for the same: it is the confidence of the child expecting his
Father to be gracious.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought (anxious concern) for your
life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what
ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and
all these things shall be added unto you.” (

Matthew 6:25,33).11
THE CURE FOR DESPONDENCY
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?”
(

Psalm 42:5).
When the Psalmist gave utterance to these words, his spirit was dejected
and his heart was heavy within him. In the checkered career of David there
was not a little which was calculated to sadden and depress: the cruel
persecutions of Saul, who hunted him as a partridge upon the mountains,
the treachery of his trusted friend Ahitophel, the perfidy of Absalom, and
the remembrance of his own sins, were enough to overwhelm the stoutest.
And David was a man of like passions with us: he was not always upon the
mountain-top of joy, but sometimes spent seasons in the slough of despond
and the gorge of gloom.
But David did not give way to despair, nor succumb to his sorrows. He did
not lie down like a stricken beast and do nought but fill the air with his
howling. No, he acted like a rational creature, and like a man, looked his
troubles squarely in the face. But he did more; he made diligent inquiry, he
challenged himself, he sought to discover the cause of his despondency: he
asked, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” He desired to know the
reason for such depression. This is often the first step toward recovery
from dejection of spirit. Repining arid murmuring get us nowhere. Fretting
and wringing our hands bring no relief either temporally or spiritually.
There needs to be self-interrogation, self-examination, self condemnation.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” We need to seriously take ourselves
to task. We need to fearlessly face a few plain questions. What is the good
of giving way to despair? What possible gain can it bring me? To sit and
sulk is not “redeeming the time” (

Ephesians 5:16). To mope and mourn
will not mend matters. Then let each despondent one call his soul to
account, and inquire what adequate cause could be assigned for
peevishness and fretting.
“We may have great cause to mourn for sin, and to pray against
prevailing impiety: but our great dejection, even under the severest
outward afflictions or inward trials, springs from unbelief and a
rebellious will: we should therefore strive and pray against it”
(Thomas Scott)..12
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” Cannot you discover the real
answer without asking counsel from others? Is it not true that, deep down
in your heart, you already know, or at least suspect, the root of your
present trouble? Are you “cast down” because of distressing circumstances
which your own folly has brought you into? Then acknowledge with the
Psalmist,
“I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and Thou in
faithfulness hast afflicted me” (

Psalm 119:75).
Is it because of some sin, some course of self-will, some sowing to the
flesh, that you are now of the flesh reaping corruption? Then confess the
same to God and plead the promise found in

Proverbs 28:13:
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth
and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Or are you grieved because Providence has not smiled upon you so sweetly
as it has on some of your neighbors? Then heed that injunction,
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious
against the workers of iniquity” (

Psalm 37:1).
Perhaps the cases suggested above do not exactly fit that of some of our
readers. Not a few may say, “My soul is cast down and my heart is heavy
because my finances are at so low an ebb, and the outlook is so dark.” That
is indeed a painful trial, and one which mere nature often sinks under. But,
dear friend, there is a cure for despondency even when so occasioned. He
who declares “the cattle upon a thousand hills are Mine,” still lives and
reigns! Cannot He who fed two million Israelites in the wilderness for forty
years minister to you and your family? Cannot He who sustained Elijah in
the time of famine keep you from starving?
“If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and
tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you.
O ye of little faith!” (

Matthew 6:30).
Returning to our opening text, let us observe how that David not only
succumbed not to his sorrows, interrogated his soul, and rebuked his
unbelief, but he also preached to himself: “Hope thou in God!” Ah, that is
what the despondent needs to do: nothing else will bring real relief to the
hearer. The immediate outlook may be dark, but the Divine promises are.13
bright. The creature may fail you, but the Creator will not, if you truly put
your trust in Him. The world may be at its wits’ end, but the Christian
needs not be so. There is One who is “a very present help in trouble”
(

Psalm 46:1), and He never deserts those who really make Him their
refuge. The writer has proved this, many, many a time, and so may the
reader. The fact is that present conditions afford a grand opportunity for
learning the sufficiency of Divine grace. Faith cannot be exercised when
everything needed is at hand to sight.
“Hope thou in God”—In His mercy: You have sinned, sinned grievously in
the past, and now you are receiving your just deserts. True, but if you will
penitently confess your sins, there is abundant mercy with the Lord to blot
them all out (

Isaiah 55:7).
In his power: Every door may he shut against you, every channel of help be
closed fast; but nothing is too hard for the Almighty!
In His faithfulness: Men may have deceived you, broken their promises,
and now desert you in the hour of need; but He who cannot lie is to be
depended upon—O doubt not His promises.
In His love:
“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them
unto the end” (

John 13:1).
“For I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Such is ever
the blessed assurance of those who truly hope in God. They know that,
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth
him out of them all” (

Psalm 34:19).
God has told them that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in
the morning” (

Psalm 30:5). So Christian reader, when the fiery trial has
done its work, and your bonds are burned off (

Daniel 3:25), you will
thank Him for the trials which are now so unpleasant; Then hopefully
anticipate the future. Count upon God, and He will not fail you.
Let each Christian reader who is not now passing through deep waters join
with the writer in fervent prayer to God, that He will graciously sanctify
the “present distress” unto the spiritual good of His own people, and
mercifully supply their temporal needs..14
EXPERIMENTAL SALVATION
SALVATION may be viewed from many angles and contemplated under
various aspects, but from whatever side we look at it we must ever
remember that “Salvation is of the Lord.” Salvation was planned by the
Father for His elect before the foundation of the world. It was purchased
for them by the holy life and vicarious death of His incarnate Son. It is
applied to and wrought in them by His Holy Spirit. It is known and enjoyed
through the study of the Scriptures, though the exercise of faith, and
though communion with the triune Jehovah.
Now it is greatly to be feared that there are multitudes in Christendom who
verily imagine and sincerely believe that they are among the saved, yet who
are total strangers to a work of divine grace in their hearts. It is one thing
to have clear intellectual conceptions of God’s truth, it is quite another
matter to have a personal, real heart acquaintance with it. It is one thing to
believe that sin is the awful thing that the Bible says it is, but it is quite
another matter to have a holy horror and hatred of it in the soul. It is one
thing to know that God requires repentance, it is quite another matter to
experimentally mourn and groan over our vileness. It is one thing to believe
that Christ is the only Savior for sinners, it is quite another matter to really
trust Him from the heart. It is one thing to believe that Christ is the Sum of
all excellency, it is quite another matter to LOVE HIM above all others. It is
one thing to believe that God is the great and holy One, it is quite another
matter to truly reverence and fear Him. It is one thing to believe that
salvation is of the Lord, it is quite another matter to become an actual
partaker of it through His gracious workings.
While it is true that Holy Scripture insists on man’s responsibility, and that
all through them God deals with the sinner as an accountable being; yet it is
also true that the Bible plainly and constantly shows that no son of Adam
has ever measured up to his responsibility, that every one has miserably
failed to discharge his accountability. It is this which constitutes the deep
need for GOD to work in the sinner, and to do for him what he is unable to
do for himself. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God” (

Romans
8:8). The sinner is “without strength” (

Romans 5:6). Apart from the
Lord, we “can do nothing” (

John 15:5)..15
While it is true that the Gospel issues a call and a command to all who hear
it, it is also true that ALL disregard that call and disobey that command—
“They all with one consent began to make excuse” (

Luke 14:18). This
is where the sinner commits his greatest sin and most manifests his awful
enmity against God and His Christ: that when a Savior, suited to his needs,
is presented to him, he “despises and rejects” Him (

Isaiah 53:3).
This is where the sinner shows what an incorrigible rebel he is, and
demonstrates that he is deserving only of eternal torments. But it is just at
this point that God manifests His sovereign and wondrous GRACE. He not
only planned and provided salvation, but he actually bestows it upon those
whom He has chosen.
Now this bestowal of salvation is far more than a mere proclamation that
salvation is to be found in the Lord Jesus: it is very much more than an
invitation for sinners to receive Christ as their Savior. It is God actually
saving His people. It is His own sovereignty and all-powerful work of
grace toward and in those who are entirely destitute of merit, and who are
so depraved in themselves that they will not and cannot take one step to
the obtaining of salvation. Those who have been actually saved owe far
more to divine grace than most of them realize. It is not only that Christ
died to put away their sins, but also the Holy Spirit has wrought a work in
them—a work which applies to them the virtues of Christ’s atoning death.
It is just at this point that so many preachers fail in their exposition of the
Truth. While many of them affirm that Christ is the only Savior for sinners,
they also teach that He actually became ours only by our consent. While
they allow that conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit’s work and that He
alone shows us our lost condition and need of Christ, yet they also insist
that the decisive factor in salvation is man’s own will. But the Holy
Scriptures teach that “salvation is of the LORD” (

Jonah 2:9), and that
nothing of the creature enters into it at any point. Only that can satisfy God
which has been produced by God Himself. Though it be true that salvation
does not become the personal portion of the sinner until he has, from the
heart, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, yet is that very BELIEVING wrought
in him by the Holy Spirit:
“By grace are ye saved through faith, and that NOT OF YOURSELVES;
it is the gift of God” (

Ephesians 2:8)..16
It is exceedingly solemn to discover that there is a “believing” in Christ by
the natural man, which is NOT a believing unto salvation. Just as the
Buddists believe in Budda, so in Christendom there are multitudes who
believe in Christ. And this “believing” is something more than an
intellectual one. Often there is much feeling connected with it – the
emotions may be deeply stirred. Christ taught in the Parable of the Sower
that there is a class of people who hear the Word and with joy receive it,
yet have they no root in themselves (

Matthew 13:20, 21). This is
fearfully solemn, for it is still occurring daily. Scriptures also tell us that
Herod heard John “gladly “ Thus, the mere fact that the reader of these
pages enjoys listening to some sound gospel preacher is no proof at all that
he is a regenerated soul. The Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees concerning
John the Baptist, “Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light,” yet
the sequel shows clearly that no real work of grace had been wrought in
them. And these things are recorded in Scripture as solemn warnings!
It is striking and solemn to mark the exact wording in the last two
Scriptures referred to. Note the repeated personal pronoun in

Mark
6:20:
“For Herod feared John (not ‘God’!), knowing that he as a just man
and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did
many things, and heard him gladly.”
It was the personality of John which attracted Herod. How often is this the
case today! People are charmed by the personality of the preacher: they are
carried away by his style and won by his earnestness for souls. But if there
is nothing more than this, there will one day be a rude awakening for them.
That which is vital is a “love for the truth,” not for the one who presents it
is this which distinguishes the true people of God from the “mixed
multitude” who ever associate with them.
So in

John 5:35 Christ said to the Pharisees concerning His forerunner:
“Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light,” not “in the light”! In
like manner, there are many today who listen to one whom God enables to
open up some of the mysteries and wonders of His Word and they rejoice
“in his light” while in the dark themselves, never having personally received
“an unction from the Holy One.” Those who do “love the truth” (

2
Thessalonians 2:10) are they in whom a divine work of grace has been
wrought. They have something more than a clear, intellectual
understanding of the Scripture: it is the food of their souls, the joy of their.17
hearts (

Jeremiah 15:16). They love the truth, and because they do so,
they hate error and shun it as deadly poison. They are jealous for the glory
of the Author of the Word, and will not sit under a minister whose teaching
dishonors Him; they will not listen to preaching which exalts man into the
place of supremacy, so that he is the decider of his own destiny.
“LORD, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought
all our works in us” (

Isaiah 26:12).
Here is the heart and unqualified confession of the true people of God.
Note the preposition: “Thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” This
speaks of a divine work of grace wrought in the heart of the saint. Nor is
this text alone. Weigh carefully the following:
“It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and
called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me”
(

Galatians 1:15,16).
“Unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”
(

Ephesians 3:20).
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a
good work in you will perform it” (

Philippians 1:6).
“It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good
pleasure” (

Philippians 2:13).
“I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write
them” (

Hebrews 10:16).
“Now the God of peace… make you perfect in every good work to
do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight”
(

Hebrews 13:20).
Here are seven passages which speak of the inward workings of God’s
grace; or in other words of experimental salvation.
“LORD, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought
all our works in us” (

Isaiah 26:12).
Is there an echoing response in our heart to this, my reader? Is your
repentance something deeper than the remorse and tears of the natural
man? Does it have its root in a divine work of grace which the Holy Spirit.18
hath wrought in your soul? Is your believing in Christ something more than
an intellectual one? Is your relation to Him something more vital than what
some act of yours has brought about, having been made one with Him by
the power and operation of the Spirit? Is your love for Christ something
more than a pious sentiment, like that of the Romanist who sings of the
“gentle” and “sweet” Jesus? Does your love for Him proceed from an
altogether new nature, that God has created within you? Can you really say
with the Psalmist:
“Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I
desire beside Thee.” Is your profession accompanied by true meekness and
lowliness of heart? It is easy to call yourself names, and say, “I am an
unworthy and unprofitable creature.” But do you realize yourself to be
such? Do you feel yourself to be “less than the least of all saints?” Paul did!
If you do not; if instead, you deem yourself superior to the rank and file of
Christians, who bemoan their failures, confess their weakness, and cry, “O
wretched man that I am!”—there is grave reason to conclude you are a
stranger to God!
That which distinguishes genuine godliness from human religiousness is
this: the one is external, the other internal. Christ complained of the
Pharisees,
“Ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within
they are full of extortion and excess” (

Matthew 23:25).
A carnal religion is all on the surface. It is at the heart God looks and with
the heart God deals. Concerning His people He says:
“I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write
them” (

Hebrews 10:16).
“Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our
works in us.” How humbling is this to the pride of man! It makes
everything of God and nothing of the creature! The tendency of human
nature the world over, is to be self-sufficient and self-satisfied; to say with
the Laodiceans,
“I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”
(

Revelation 3:17)..19
But here is something to humble us, and empty us of pride. Since God has
wrought all our works in us, then we have no ground for boasting.
“What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst
receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
(

1 Corinthians 4:7).
And who are the ones in whom God thus works? From the divine side; His
favored, chosen, redeemed people. From the human side: those who, in
themselves have no claim whatever on His notice; who are destitute of any
merit; who have everything in them to provoke His holy wrath; those who
are miserable failures in their lives, and utterly depraved and corrupt in
their persons. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, and
did for them and in them what they would not and could not do for
themselves.
And what is it God “works” in His people?—All their works.
First, He quickens them:
“It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing”
(

John 6:63).
“Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth”
(

James 1:18).
Second, He bestows repentance:
“Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a
Savior, for to give repentance to Israel” (

Acts 5:31).
“Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life”
(

Acts 11:18;

2 Timothy 2:25).
Third, He gives faith:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God” (

Ephesians 2:8).
“Ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God”
(

Colossians 2:12).
Fourth, He grants a spiritual understanding:.20
“And we know the Son of God is come, and hath given us an
understanding, that we may know Him that is true”
(

1 John 5:20).
Fifth, He effectuates our service:
“I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I , but the grace of
God which was with me” (

1 Corinthians 15:10).
Sixth, He secures our perseverance:
“who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation”
(

1 Peter 1:5).
Seventh, He produces our fruit:
“From Me is thy fruit found” (

Hosea 14:8).
“The fruit of the Spirit” (

Galatians 5:22).
Yes, He has wrought all our works in us.
Why has God thus “wrought all our works in us?”
First, because unless He had done so, all had eternally perished
(

Romans 9:29). We were “without strength,” unable to meet God’s
righteous demands. Therefore, in sovereign grace, He did for us what we
ought but could not do for ourselves.
Second, that all the glory might be His. God is a jealous God. He says so.
His honour He will not share with another. By this means He secures all
the praise, and we have no ground for boasting.
Third, that our salvation might be effectually and securely accomplished.
Were any part of our salvation left to us it would be neither effectual nor
secure. Whatever man touches he spoils: failure is written across
everything he attempts. But what God does is perfect and lasts for ever: “I
know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to
it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear
before Him” (

Ecclesiastes 3:14).
But how may I be sure that my works have been “wrought in me” by God?
Mainly by their effects. If you have been born again, you have a new nature
within. This new nature is spiritual and contrary to the flesh—contrary in
its desires and aspirations. Because the old and new natures are contrary to.21
each other, there is a continual war between them. Are you conscious of
this inward conflict?
If your repentance be a God-wrought one, then you abhor yourself If your
repentance be a genuine and spiritual one, then you marvel that God did
not long ago cast you into hell. If your repentance be the gift of Christ,
then you daily mourn the wretched return which you make to God’s
wondrous grace; you hate sin, you sorrow in secret before God for your
manifold transgressions. Not simply do you do so at conversion, but daily
do so now.
If your faith be a God-communicated one, it is evidenced by your turning
away from all creature confidences, by a renunciation of your own self-righteousness,
by a repudiation of all your own works. If your faith be “the
faith of God’s elect” (

Titus 1:1), then you are resting alone on Christ as
the ground of your acceptance before God. If your faith be the result of
“the operation of God,” then you implicitly believe His Word, you receive
it with meekness, you crucify reason, and accept all He has said with
childlike simplicity.
If your love for Christ be the fruit of the Spirit (

Galatians 5:25), then it
evidences itself by constantly seeking to please Him, and by abstaining
from what you know is displeasing to Him: in a word, by an obedient walk.
If your love for Christ be the love of “the new man,” then you pant after
Him, you yearn for communion with Him above everything else. If your
love for Christ be the same in kind (though not in degree) as His love for
you, then you are eagerly looking forward to His glorious appearing, when
He shall come again to receive His people unto Himself, that they maybe
forever with the Lord. May the grace of spiritual discernment be given the
reader to see whether his Christian profession be real or a sham whether his
hope is built upon the Rock of Ages or the quicksands of human
resolutions, efforts, decisions, or feelings; whether, in short, his salvation is
“OF THE LORD” or the vain imagination of his own deceitful heart..22
FAITH
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (

Hebrews 11:6)
“But the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed
with faith in that heard it,”(

Hebrews 4:2)
THE LINKING TOGETHER of these verses shows us the worthlessness of all
religious activities where faith be lacking. The outward exercise may be
performed diligently and correctly, but unless faith be in operation God is
not honored and the soul is not profited. Faith draws out the heart unto
God, and faith it is which receives from God; not a mere intellectual assent
to what is revealed in Holy Writ, but a supernatural principle of grace
which lives upon the God of Scripture. This, the natural man, no matter
how religious or orthodox he be, has not; and no labours of his, no act of
his will, can acquire it. It is the sovereign gift of God.
Faith must be operative in all the exercises of the Christian if God is to he
glorified and he is to be edified.
First, in the reading of the Word:
“But these are written, that ye might believe” (

John 20:31).
Second, in listening to the preaching of God’s servants:
“The hearing of faith” (

Galatians 3:2).
Third, in praying:
“Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (

James 1:6).
Fourth, in our daily life:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (

2 Corinthians 5:7);
“the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son
of God” (

Galatians 2:20).
Fifth, in our exit from this world:
“These all died in faith” (

Hebrews 11:13)..23
What the breath is to the body, faith is to the soul; for one who is
destitute of faith to seek to perform spiritual actions, is like putting a
spring within a wooden dummy and making it go through mechanical
motions.
Now an unregenerate professor may read the Scriptures and yet have no
spiritual faith. Just as the devout Hindu peruses the Upanishads and the
Mohammedan his Koran, so many “Christian” countries take up the study
of the Bible, and yet have no more of the life of God in their souls than
have their heathen brethren. Thousands in this land read the Bible, believe
in its Divine authorship, and become more or less familiar with its contents.
A mere professor may read several chapters every day, and yet never
appropriate a single verse. But faith applies God’s Word: it applies his
fearful threatenings, and trembles before them; it applies His solemn
warnings, and seeks to heed them; it applies His precepts, and cries unto
Him for grace to walk in them.
It is the same in listening to the Word preached. A carnal professor will
boast of having attended this conference and that, of having heard this
famous teacher and that renowned preacher, and be no better off in his soul
than if he had never heard any of them. He may listen to two sermons
every Sunday, and fifty years hence be as dead spiritually as he is today.
But the regenerated soul appropriates the message and measures himself by
what he hears. He is often convicted of his sins and made to mourn over
them. He tests himself by God’s standard, and feels that he comes so far
short of what he ought to be, that he sincerely doubts the honesty of his
own profession. The Word pierces him, like a two-edged sword, and
causes him to cry, “O wretched man that I am!”
So in prayer. The mere professor often makes the humble Christian feel
ashamed of himself. The carnal religionist who has “the gift of the gab” is
never at a loss for words: sentences flow from his lips as readily as do the
waters of a babbling brook; verses of Scripture seem to run through his
mind as freely as flour passes though a sieve. Whereas the poor burdened
child of God is often unable to do any more than cry “God be merciful to
me a sinner.” Ah, my friends, we need to distinguish sharply between a
natural aptitude for “making” nice prayers and the spirit of true
supplication: the one consists merely of words, the other of “groanings
which cannot be uttered”; the one is acquired by religious education, the
other is wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit..24
Thus it is too in conversing about the things of God. The frothy professor
can talk glibly and often orthodoxly of “doctrines,” yes, and of worldly
things, too: according to his mood, or according to his audience, so is his
theme. But the child of God, while being swift to hear that which is unto
edification, is “slow to speak.” Ah, my reader, beware of talkative people;
a drum makes a lot of noise but it is hollow inside!
“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; but a faithful
man who can find?” (

Proverbs 20:6).
When a saint of God does open his lips about spiritual matters, it is to tell
of what the Lord, in His infinite mercy, has done for him; but the carnal
religionist is anxious for others to know what he is “doing for the Lord.”
The difference is just as real between the genuine Christian and the nominal
Christian in connection with their daily lives: while the latter may appear
outwardly righteous, yet within they are “full of hypocrisy and iniquity”
(

Matthew 23:28). They will put on the skin of a real sheep, but in
reality they are “wolves in sheeps’ clothing.” But God’s children have the
nature of sheep, and learn of Him who is “meek and lowly in heart,” and,
as the elect of God, they put on
“mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
(

Colossians 3:12).
They are in private what they appear in public. They worship God in spirit
and in truth, and have been made to know wisdom in the hidden parts of
the heart.
So it is on their passing out of this world. An empty professor may die as
easily and as quietly as he lived deserted by the Holy Spirit, undisturbed by
the Devil; as the psalmist says, “there are no bands in their death”
(

Psalm 73:4). But this is very different from the end of one whose
deeply ploughed and consciously-defiled conscience has been “sprinkled”
with the precious blood of Christ:
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that
man is peace” (

Psalm 37:37)
yes, a peace which “passeth all understanding”: Having lived the life of the
righteous, he dies “the death of the righteous” (

Numbers 23:10)..25
And what is it which distinguishes the one character from the other,
wherein lies the difference between the genuine Christian and he who is
one in name only? This: a God-given, Spirit-wrought faith in the heart. Not
a mere head-knowledge and intellectual assent to the Truth, but a living,
spiritual, vital principle in the heart—a faith which “purifies the heart”
(

Acts 15:9), which “worketh by love” (

Galatians 5:6), which
“overcometh the world” (

1 John 5:4). Yes, a faith which is Divinely
sustained amidst trials within and opposition without; a faith which
exclaims “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (

Job 13:15).
True, this faith is not always in exercise, nor is it equally strong at all times.
The favored possessor of it must be taught by painful experience that as he
did not originate it neither can he command it; therefore does he turn unto
its Author, and say, “Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.” And then it
is that, when reading the Word he is enabled to lay hold of its precious
promises; that when bowing before the Throne of Grace, he is enabled to
cast his burden upon the Lord; that when he rises to go about his temporal
duties, he is enabled to lean upon the everlasting arms; and that when he is
called upon to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, he
triumphantly cries “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” “Lord,
increase our faith.”.26
GODLY COMPANIONS
“I am a companion of all that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts”
(

Psalm 119:63)
In the above verse we have a description of God’s people according to the
course of their lives and conduct. They are a people marked by two things:
fear and submission, the latter being the fruit of the former. Regenerated
souls obey God conscientiously out of reverence to His majesty and
goodness, and from a due regard of His will as made known in His Word.
The same description is given of them in

Acts 10:35, “In every nation
he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.,” It is
a filial fear which is awed by God’s greatness and is careful not to offend
Him, which is constrained by His love and is anxious to please Him. Such
are the only ones fit to be a Christian’s “companions.”
A “companion” is, properly speaking, one whom I choose to walk and
converse with in a way of friendship. Inasmuch as the companions we
select is an optional matter, it is largely true that a person may be known
by the company he or she keeps; hence the old adage, “Birds of a feather
flock together.” Scripture asks the searching question, “Can two walk
together but except they be agreed?” (

Amos 3:3). A Christian, before
his conversion, was controlled by the Prince of darkness and walked
according to the course of this world (

Ephesians 2:2,3), and therefore
did he seek and enjoy the company of worldlings. But when he was born
again the new nature within him prompted new tastes and desires, and so
he seeks a new company, delighting only in the saints of God. Alas, that we
do not always continue as we began.
The Christian is to have good will toward all with whom he comes in
contact, desiring and seeking their best interests (

Galatians 6:10), but he
is not to be yoked to (

2 Corinthians 6:14) nor have any fellowship with
(

Ephesians 5:11) those who are unbelievers, nor is he to delight in or
have complacency toward those who despise his Master.
“Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the
Lord?” (

2 Chronicles 19:2).
Would you knowingly take a viper into your bosom?.27
“The wicked is an abomination unto the righteous”
(

Proverbs 29:26).
So said David,
“Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am I not grieved
with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect
hatred: I count them mine enemies” (

Psalm 139:21, 22).
That holy man could not be confederate with such.
Evil company is to be sedulously avoided by the Christian lest he become
defiled by them.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of
fools shall be destroyed” (

Proverbs 13:20).
Nor is it only the openly lawless and criminal who are to be shunned, but
even, yea especially, those professing to be Christians yet who do not live
the life of Christians. It is this latter class particularly against which the real
child of God needs to be most on his guard: namely, those who say one
thing and do another; those whose talk is pious, but whose walk differs
little or nothing from the non-professor, The Word of God is plain and
positive on this point:
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from
such turn away” (

2 Timothy 3:5).
This is not merely good advice, but a Divine command which we disregard
at our peril.
In selecting your “companions” let not a pleasing personality deceive you.
The Devil himself often poses as “an angel of light,” and sometimes his
wolfish agents disguise themselves in “sheep’s clothing” (

Matthew
7:15). Be most careful in seeing to it that what draws you toward and
makes you desire the companionship of Christian friends is their love and
likeness to Christ and not their love and likeness to you. Shun as you
would a deadly plague those who are not awed by the fear of God, i.e., a
trembling lest they offend Him. Let not the Devil persuade you that you are
too well established in the faith to be injured by intimacy with worldly
“Christians” (?). “Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good
manners” (

1 Corinthians 15:33). Rather.28
“follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the
Lord out of a pure heart” (

2 Timothy 2:22).
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners”
(

1 Corinthians 15:33).
The Greek word here for “communications” properly means “a bringing
together, companionships.” And evil companionships “corrupt.” All evil is
contagious and association with evildoers, whether they be “church
members” or open infidels, has a defiling and debasing effect upon the true
child of God. Mark well how the Holy Spirit has prefaced His warning: “be
not deceived.” Evidently there is a real danger of God’s people imagining
that they can play with fire without getting burned. Not so: God has not
promised to protect us when we fly in the face of his danger signals.
Observe too the next verse which is inseparably connected with the one to
which we have directed attention.
“Awake to righteousness and sin not: for some have not the
knowledge of God: I speak (this) to your shame”
(

1 Corinthians 15:34).
The word “awake” signifies to arouse as from a torpor or state of lethargy.
It is a call to shake off the delusive spell that a Christian may company with
Christless companions without being contaminated by them. “And sin not”
in this respect. To cultivate friendship with religious worldlings Is SIN, for
such “have not the knowledge of God”: they have no experimental
acquaintance with Him, His fear is not on them, His authority has no
weight with them. “I speak (this) to your shame.” The child of God ought
to be abashed and filled with confusion that he needs such a word as this. I
am a companion of all that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”
Such are the only “companions” worth having, the only ones who will give
you any encouragement to continue pressing forward along the “Narrow
Way.” It is not those who merely pretend to “believe” God’s precepts, or
profess to “stand for” them, but those who actually “keep” them. But
where are such to be found these days? Ah, where indeed. They are but
“few” in number (

Matthew 7:14) one here and one there. Yea, so very
“few” are they that we are constrained to cry,
“Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from
among the children of men” (

Psalm 12:1)..29
It is indeed solemn to read the words that immediately follow the last-quoted
scripture and find how aptly they apply to and how accurately they
describe the multitude of godless professing “Christians” all around us:
“they speak vanity every one with his neighbour, with flattering lips, with a
double heart do they speak” (v. 2). Note three things about them.
First, they “speak vanity” or “emptiness.” Their words are like bubbles,
there is nothing edifying about them. It cannot be otherwise for
“out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”
(

Matthew 12:34).
Their poor hearts are empty (

Matthew 12:44). So their speech is empty
too.
Second, they have “flattering lips,” which is the reason why they are so
popular with the ungodly. They will seek to puff you up with a sense of
their own importance, pretend to admire the “much light” you have, and
tell you it is your duty to “give it out to others”.
Third. they have a “double heart.” They are (vainly) seeking to serve two
masters: (cf.

2 Kings 17:32, 33).
“I am a companion of all that fear thee, and of them that keep thy
precepts.” There is a very real sense in which this is true even where there
is no outward contact with such. Faithfulness to God, obedience to His
Word, keeping His precepts, companying only with those who do so,
turning away from everybody else, has always involved a lonely path. It
was thus with Enoch (Jude 14). It was thus with Abraham (

Isaiah 51:2).
It was thus with Paul (

2 Timothy 1:5). It is the same today. Every city
in the land is tilled with “churches,” “missions,” “Gospel Halls,” “Bible
Institutes,” etc., etc., but where are those who give plain evidence that they
are living in this world as “strangers and pilgrims” and as such abstaining
“from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (

1 Peter 2:11)?
But thank God. though the path of faithfulness to Him be a lonely one, it
brings me into spiritual fellowship with those who have gone before. We
are to walk by faith and not by sight, and faith perceives that walking with
Christ “outside the camp” (

Hebrews 13:13) necessarily brings into
communion with “all” His redeemed, be they on earth or be they in heaven.
Thus the apostle John in his lonely exile on Patmos referred to himself as
“your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and.30
patience of Jesus Christ” (

Revelation 1:9). Yes, Christian reader, for a
little while it means companionship “in tribulation,” but, praise God it will
not mean enduring the throes of the swiftly- approaching portion of
Christless professors left behind when Christ comes for His own (

2
Thessalonians 2:10-12). For a little while it means companionship in “the
kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,” soon it will be in the kingdom and
glory of Christ. May Divine mercy so enable us to live now that in that Day
we shall receive His “Well done.”.31
GOSPEL PREACHING
COMMANDED
There are those who misrepresent the doctrine of election in this way. Here
I am sitting down at my table tonight with my family to tea. It is a cold
winter’s night, and outside on the street are some hungry starving tramps
and children, and they come and knock on my door and they say, “We are
so hungry, Sir, Oh, we are so hungry and cold, and we are starving: won’t
you give us something to eat?”
Give you something to eat? No, you do not belong here, get off with you.”
Now people say that is what election means, that God has spread the
gospel feast and some poor sinners conscious of their deep need come to
the Lord and say, “Have mercy upon me, and the Lord says, “No, you are
not among My elect.” Now, my friends, that is not the teaching of this
Book, nor anything like that. That is absolutely a false representation of
God’s truth. I do not believe anything like that, my friends, and I would not
insult you by asking you to come here night by night and listen to anything
like that.
1. COMPEL THEM TO COME IN
Now then, here is the truth. God has spread the feast but the fact is that
nobody is hungry. and nobody wants to come to the feast, and everybody
makes an excuse to keep away from the feast. and when they are bidden to
come they say, “No, we do not want to, or We are not ready yet.” Now
God knew that from the beginning, and if God had done nothing more than
spread the feast every seat at His table would have been vacant for all
eternity! I have no hesitation in saying there is not one man or woman in
this church tonight, but who made excuses time after time before you first
came to Christ. You are just like the rest. You made excuses. so did I, and
if God had done nothing more than just spread the feast every chair would
have been vacant, therefore what do you read in that parable in Luke 14?
Because the feast was not furnished with guests God sent forth His
“servants”. Oh, put your glasses on. It does not say “servants”, it says God
sent forth His “servant” and told Him to “compel” them to come in that
His feast might be furnished with guests. And there is not a man or a.32
woman In this church tonight or in any other church that would ever sit
down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb unless you had been compelled
to come in, and compelled by God.
Well, you say, what do you mean by “compelled?” I mean this, that God
had to overcome the resistance of your will, God had to overcome the
reluctance of your heart, God had to overcome your loving of pleasure
more than loving of God, your love of the things of this world more than
Christ. I mean that God had to put forth His power and draw you, and if
any of you know anything of the Greek or have a Strong’s Concordance,
look up that Greek verb for “draw” in

John 6:44, “No man can come to
me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” —It means “use
violence”. It means to drag by force. There is not a Greek scholar on earth
that can challenge that statement—I mean—and back it up with proof. It’s
the same Greek word that is used in John 21 when they drew the net to the
land full of fishes. They had to pull with all their might for it was full of
fishes. They had to drag it, Yes, my friend, and that is how you were
brought to Christ. You may not have been conscious of it. you may not
have known inside yourself what was taking place, but every last one of us
was a rebel against God, fighting against Christ, resisting His Holy Spirit,
and God had to put forth almighty power and overcome that resistance and
bring us to our knees, and if any of you object to that strong language, then
I am here to tell you, you do not believe in the teaching of this Book on the
absolute depravity of man.
Man is lost, and man is dead in trespasses and sins by nature. Listen, it is
not simply that man is sick and needs a little medicine: it is not simply that
man is ignorant and needs a little teaching: it is not simply that man is weak
and needs a little hope: man is dead, dead in trespasses and sins, and only
almighty power from heaven can ever resurrect him and bring him from
death unto life. That is the gospel I believe in and I do not preach the
gospel because I believe the sinner has power in himself to respond to it.
Well, you say, then what is the use of preaching the gospel if men are
dead? What is the use of preaching it? I will tell you. Listen! Here was a
man with a withered hand, paralyzed, and Christ says. “Stretch forth thine
hand”; It was the one thing that he could not do! Christ told him to do a
thing that was impossible in himself. Well then you say why did Christ tell
him to stretch forth his hand? Because Divine power went with the very
word that commanded him to do it! Divine power enabled him to. The man
could not do it of himself. If you think that he could you are ready for the.33
lunatic asylum, I don’t not care who you are. Any man or woman here who
thinks that that man was able to stretch forth his paralyzed arm by an effort
of his own will is ready for the lunatic asylum! How can paralysis move?
Well, I will give you something stronger than that. You need something
strong today, you need something more than skim-milk, you need strong
meat if ever you are going to be built up and grow and become strong in
the Lord and the power of His might—Here is a man who is dead and
buried and his body has already begun to corrupt so that it stank. There he
was in the grave and someone came to that graveside and said, “Lazarus.
come forth”, and if that someone had been anyone else than God Himself
manifest in flesh. he might have stood there till now calling, “Come forth”.
What on earth was the use of telling a dead man to come forth? None at
all, unless the One Who spoke that word had the power to make that word
good.
Now then my friends, I preach the gospel to sinners, not because I believe
the sinner has any power at all in himself to respond to it: I do not believe
that any sinner has any capacity in himself whatever. But Christ said, “the
words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life”, and by
God’s grace I go forth preaching this Word because it is a word of power,
a word of spirit, a word of life. The power is not in the sinner, it is in the
Word when God the Holy Spirit is pleased to use it. And my friends, I say
in all reverence; if God told me in this Book to go out and preach to the
trees. I would go! Yes sir. God once told one of His servants to go and
preach to bones and he went. I wonder if you should have gone! Yes, that
has a local application as well as a future interpretation prophetically:
2. PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE
Now the question arises again, why are we to preach the gospel to every
creature?—if God has only elected a certain number to be saved? The
reason is, because God commands us to do so. Well, but, you say, it does
not seem reasonable to me That has got nothing to do with it; your
business is to obey God and not to argue with Him. God commands us to
preach the gospel to every creature and it means what it says—every
creature and it is solemn thing. Every Christian in this room tonight has yet
to answer to Christ why he has not done everything in his power to send
that gospel to every creature! Yes, I believe in missions—probably
stronger than most of you do, and if I preached to you on missions perhaps.34
I would hit you harder than you have been hit yet. The great majority of
Gods people who profess to believe in missions, are just playing at them—I
make so bold as to say of our evangelical denominations today that we are
just playing at missions and that is all. Why my friends. there is almost half
of the human race—think of it—in this 20
th
century—travel so easy and
cheap. Bibles printed in almost every language under heaven, and as we sit
here tonight there is almost half of the human race that never yet heard of
Christ, and we have got to answer to Christ for that yet! You have and I
have, Oh. yes, I believe in man’s responsibility. I do not believe in man’s
“freedom” but I do in man’s responsibility, and I believe in the Christian’s
responsibility in a double way, and everyone of us here tonight has yet got
to face Christ and look into those eyes as a flame of fire, and He is going to
say to us, I entrusted to you My gospel. It was committed as a “trust” to
you, (See

1 Thessalonians 2:4) It is required in stewards that a man be
found faithful.
Oh, my friends, we are playing at things. We have not begun to take
religion seriously, any of us. We profess to believe in the coming of Christ,
and we profess to believe that the one reason why Christ has not come
back yet is because His Church, His Body, is not yet complete. We believe
that when His body is complete He will come back. And my friends, His
“body” never, never, will be complete until the last of His elect people will
be called out, and His elect people are called out under the preaching of the
gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and if you are really anxious for
Christ to come back soon, then you had better be more wide awake to
your responsibility in connection with taking or sending the gospel to the
heathen!
Christ’s word, and it is Christ’s word to us, is “Go ye into all the world and
preach the gospel”, He does not say “Send ye”, He says “Go ye”, and you
have to answer to Christ yet because you have not gone! Well, you say, do
you mean by that that everyone of us here tonight ought to go out to the
mission field? I have not said that, I am not any man’s judge, Many of you
here tonight have a good reason which will satisfy Christ why you have not
gone. He gave you work to do here. He put you in a position here. He has
given you responsibilities to discharge here, but every Christian who is free
to go, and does not go, has got to answer to Christ for it yet.
“Go ye into all the world.” Well then you say, Where am I to go? Oh, that
is very easy. You say, easy? Yes, I mean it: it is very easy. There is nothing.35
easier in the world than to know where you ought to begin missionary
work. You have it in the first chapter of Acts and the eighth verse: “Ye
shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye
shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem (that is the city in which they
were) and in all Judea (that is the State in which their city was), and in
Samaria (that is the adjoining State), and unto the uttermost part of the
earth”, If you want to begin missionary work, you have to begin it in your
home-town, and my friends if you are not interested in the salvation of the
Chinese in Sydney, then you are not really interested in the salvation of the
Chinese in China, and you are only fooling yourselves if you think you are!
Oh, I am calling a spade a spade tonight. If you are anxious about the souls
of the Chinese in China, then you will be equally anxious about the souls of
the Chinese here in Sydney, and I wonder how many in this building
tonight have ever made any serious effort to reach the Chinese in Sydney
with the gospel! I wonder? I wonder how many here tonight have been
round to the Bible House in Sydney and have said to the Manager there,
“Do you have any New Testaments in the Chinese language, or do you
have any Gospels of John in the Chinese language? How much are they per
hundred? or per dozen?” And I wonder how many of you have bought a
thousand or a hundred, and then have gone round to the houses in the
Chinese quarter and have said, “My friend, this is a little gift that will do
your soul good if you will read it.”
Ah, my friends, we are playing at missions, it is just a farce, that is all! “Go
ye” is the first command. Go where? Those around me first. Go what with?
The gospel! Well, you say, “Why should I go?” Because God has
commanded you to! Well, you say, “What is the use of doing it if He has
just elected certain ones?” Because that gospel is the means that God uses
to call out His own elect, that is why! You do not know, and I do not
know, and nobody here on earth knows, who are God’s elect and who are
not. They are scattered over the world, and therefore we are to preach the
gospel to every creature, that it may reach the ones that God has marked
out among those creatures.
From a sermon preached in Sydney during his Australian ministry in the
1920’s..36
“IT IS FINISHED”
“When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished: and he gave up the ghost.”

John 19:30
How terribly have these blessed words of Christ been misunderstood,
misappropriated and misapplied! How many seem to think that on the cross
the Lord Jesus accomplished a work which rendered it unnecessary for the
beneficiaries of it to live holy lives on earth. So many have been deluded
into thinking that, so far as reaching heaven is concerned, it matters not
how they walk provided they are “resting on the finished work of Christ.”
They may be unfruitful, untruthful, disobedient, yet (though they may
possibly miss some millennial crown) so long as they repudiate all
righteousness of their own and have faith in Christ, they imagine they are
“eternally secure.”
All around us are people who are worldly-minded, money-lovers, pleasure-seekers,
Sabbath-breakers, yet who think all is well with them because they
have “accepted Christ as their personal Saviour.” In their aspiration,
conversation, and recreation, there is practically nothing to differentiate
them from those who make no profession at all. Neither in their home-life
nor social-life is there anything save empty pretensions to distinguish them
from others. The fear of God is not upon them, the commands of God have
no authority over them, the holiness of God has no attraction for them.
“It is finished.” How solemn to realize that these words of Christ must
have been used to lull thousands into a false peace. Yet such is the case.
We have come into close contact with many who have no private prayer-life,
who are selfish, covetous, dishonest, but who suppose that a merciful
God will overlook all such things provided they once put their trust in the
Lord Jesus. What a horrible perversion of the truth! What a turning of
God’s grace “into lasciviousness”! (Jude 4). Yes, those who now live the
most self-seeking and flesh-pleasing lives, talk about their faith in the blood
of the Lamb, and suppose they are safe. How the devil has deceived them!
“It is finished.” Do those blessed words signify that Christ so satisfied the
requirement of God’s holiness that holiness no longer has any real and
pressing claims upon us? Perish the thought. Even to the redeemed God
says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (

1 Peter 1:16). Did Christ “magnify.37
the law and make it honorable” (

Isaiah 42:21) that we might be lawless?
Did He “fulfill all righteousness” (

Matthew 3:15) to purchase for us an
immunity from loving God with all our hearts and serving Him with all our
faculties? Did Christ die in order to secure a divine indulgence that we
might live to please self? Many seem to think so. No, the Lord Jesus has
left His people an example that they should “follow (not ignore) His steps.”
“It is finished.” What was “finished? The need for sinners to repent? No
indeed. The need for turning to God from idols? No indeed. The need for
mortifying my members which are upon earth? No indeed. The need for
being sanctified wholly, in spirit, and soul, and body? No indeed. Christ
died not to make my sorrow for, hatred of, and striving against sin, useless.
Christ died not to absolve me from the full discharge of my responsibilities
unto God. Christ died not so that I might go on retaining the friendship and
fellowship of the world. How passing strange that any should think that He
did. Yet the actions of many show that this is their idea.
“It is finished.” What was “finished?” The sacrificial types were
accomplished, the prophecies, of His sufferings were fulfilled, the work
given Him by the Father had been perfectly done, a sure foundation had
been laid on which a righteous God could pardon the vilest transgressor of
the law who threw down the weapons of his warfare against Him. Christ
had now performed all that was necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to
come and work in the hearts of His people; convincing them of their
rebellion, slaying their enmity against God, and producing in them a loving
and obedient heart.
O, dear reader, make no mistake on this point. The “finished work of
Christ” avails you nothing if your heart has never been broken through an
agonizing consciousness of your sinfulness. The “finished work of Christ”
avails you nothing unless you have been saved from the power and
pollution of sin (

Matthew 1:21). It avails you nothing if you still love
the world (

1 John 2:15). It avails you nothing unless you are a “new
creature” in Him (

2 Corinthians 5:17). If you value your soul, search
the Scriptures to see for yourself; take no man’s word for it..38
KEEPING THE HEART
In Christendom today there are thousands of professing Christians against
whom little or nothing in the way of fault could be found so far as their
outward lives are concerned. They live moral, clean, upright, honest lives
while at the same time the state of their hearts is totally neglected. It is not
sufficient to bring our outward deportment into harmony with the revealed
will of God. He holds us accountable for what goes on inside, and requires
us to keep check on the springs of our actions, the motives which inspire
and the principles which regulate us. God requires “truth in the inward
parts” (

Psalm 51:6). Christ has enjoined us to “take heed” to ourselves
“lest at any time our hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and
drunkeness, and cares of this life” (

Luke 21:34).
If I do not look within how then shall I be able to ascertain whether I
possess that poverty of spirit, mourning for unholiness, meekness,
hungering and thirsting after righteousness and purity of heart upon which
the Saviour pronounces His benediction (

Matthew 5:1-8)? We must
remember that salvation itself is both subjective and objective, for it
consists not only of what Christ did FOR His people, but also what He by
the Holy Spirit did IN them. I have no evidence whatever of my justification
apart from my regeneration and sanctification. The one who can say “I am
crucified with Christ” judicially can also add “Christ liveth in me”
(experimentally), and living by faith in Him is proof that
“He loved me and gave himself for me” (

Galatians 2:20).
The heart is the center of man’s moral nature, of the personality; it equals
the whole inner man, it is the fount out of which everything else comes,
and is the seat of his thoughts and of his affections and of his will
(

Genesis 6:5). To guard the heart means that we should live to the glory
of God in every respect; that that should be the supreme desire of our life,
that we desire to know Him, love Him and serve Him.
If we are to be approved of God it is by no means sufficient that “we make
clean the outside of the cup and platter”, yet many suppose that that is all
that matters. “Cleanse first that which is within” (

Matthew 23:26) is our
Lord’s command. This is rarely given any attention these days, or none at.39
all. It is the devil who seeks to persuade people that they are not
responsible for the state of their hearts, that it is impossible for them to
change them. Such is most agreeable unto those who think to be “called to
heaven on flowery beds of ease.” But no regenerate soul, with God’s Word
before him, will credit such falsehood. The Divine command is plain:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”
(

Proverbs 4:23).
This is the principal task set before us, for it is at the heart God ever looks,
and there can be no pleasing Him while it is unattended to; yea, woe be
unto those who disregard it. He who makes no honest endeavor to cast out
sinful thoughts and evil imaginations, and who does not mourn over their
presence, is a moral leper. He who makes no conscience of the workings of
unbelief, the cooling of his affections, the surgings of pride, is a stranger to
any work of grace in his soul.
Not only does God bid thee to “keep thy heart,” but He requires that you
do it “with all diligence;” that is, that you make it your main concern and
constant care. The Hebrew word of “keep” signifies to “guard,” to watch
over this heart (that is, the soul or inward man) as a precious treasure of
which thieves are ever ready to rob thee. The devotions of your lips and
the labors of your hands are unacceptable to the Lord if your heart is not
right in His sight. What husband would appreciate the domestic attentions
of his wife if he had good reasons to believe that her affections were
alienated from him?
God takes note not only of the matter of our actions but the springs from
which they are done and the design of the same. If we become slack and
careless in any of these respects, it shows that our love is cooled and that
we have become weary of God. The Lord God is He that “ponders the
heart” (

Proverbs 24:12) observing all its motions. He knows whether
your alms-deeds are done in order to be seen of men and admired by them,
or whether they issue from disinterested benevolence. He knows whether
your expressions of good will and love to your brethren are feigned or
genuine!
The Bible lays open, as no other book, the turpitude (shameful depravity)
and horrid nature of sin as “that abominable thing” which God “hates”
(

Jeremiah 4:4), and which we are to detest and shun. It never gives the
least indulgence or disposition to sin, nor do any of its teachings lead to.40
licentiousness. It sternly condemns sin in all its forms, and makes known
the awful curse and wrath of God which are its due. It not only reproves
sin in the outward lives of men, but discovers the secret faults of the heart
which is its chief seat. It warns against the first motions, and legislates for
the regulating of our spirits, requiring us to keep clean the fountain from
which are “the issues of life.” Its promises are made unto holiness, and its
blessings bestowed upon “the pure in heart.” The ineffable (that which
cannot be expressed) and exalted holiness of the Bible is its chief and
peculiar excellence, as it is also the principal reason why it is disliked by the
majority of the unregenerate. The Bible forbids all impure desires and
unjust thoughts as well as deeds. It prohibits envy (

Proverbs 23:17),
and all forms of selfishness (

Romans 15:1). It requires us to
“cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to
perfect holiness in the fear of God” (

2 Corinthians 7:1),
and bids us to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (

1 Thessalonians
5:22). Heavenly doctrine is to be matched with heavenly character and
conduct. Its requirements penetrate into the innermost recesses of the soul,
exposing and censuring all the corruptions found there. The law of man
goes no farther than “Thou shall not steal,” but that of God “Thou shalt
not covet.” The law of man prohibits the act of adultery, but the law of
God reprehends (finds fault with, censures, blames) the looking upon a
woman “to lust after her” (

Matthew 5:28). The law of man says, “Thou
shalt not murder,” that of God forbids all ill-will, malice or hatred (

1
John 3:15). It strikes directly at that which fallen nature most cherishes and
craves. “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you” (

Luke
6:26). It prohibits the spirit of revenge enjoins the forgiveness of injuries.
and, contrary to the self-righteousness of our hearts, inculcates humility.
Such a task calls for Divine aid, hence help and grace need to be earnestly
and definitely sought of the Holy spirit each day. And as, so many today
are just playing with the solemn realities of God, never embracing and
making them their own. How about you, reader? Is this true of you? Selah..41
THE ORDAINED LAMP
“I have ordained a lamp for Mine Anointed” (

Psalm 132:17).
The first part of this Psalm records a series of prayer-petitions; from verse
11 to the close are a number of great and precious promises relating to
David and his family in the type, but mainly and ultimately to Christ and
His New Testament church in the antitype. Let the reader constantly bear
in mind this important principle and fact, namely, that everything in the Old
Testament Scriptures typified or represented Gospel or Eternal realities.
First, God here promises to fix His residence in the church (vv. 13-14).
Then, to bless the provision He makes for her (v. 15). To give her faithful
and successful ministers (v. 16). That, however low the interests of Christ
on earth may be brought, even though (like Himself) it may appear a root
in a dry place, yet, like a tree well planted in the ground, but sore lopt and
hacked by man and Satan, it will sprout again (v. 16).
In our present verse three things are before us.
First, the designation which is given unto the Saviour of sinners by the
Father: He calls Him “Mine Anointed.” Though despised and rejected of
men, though an unbelieving world see no form nor comeliness in Him, God
owns Him as the Prophet, Priest, and King of His church: compare

Psalm 89:20-21.
Second, the chief agency of God’s ordering for the manifestation of Christ
to a lost world: “I have ordained a lamp for Mine Anointed.” This is the
Gospel. The use of a lamp is to give light to people in the darkness of the
night: so the proclamation of Christ’s glorious person, offices, and work, is
a light shining in a dark place, until the day of glory dawns.
Third, the sovereign authority by which this Gospel “lamp” is lighted and
carried through this dark world: it is “ordained” of God: it is by Divine
command that His servants preach and spread the light of the Gospel:
compare

Mark 16:15, 20.
This Gospel “lamp” was first set up in the purpose of God from eternity, in
the “counsel of peace” (

Zechariah 6:13 and cf.

Proverbs 8:22-23,
31), when the whole plan of salvation through Christ was laid..42
Second, this “lamp” was first lighted in this lower world immediately after
the fall in paradise: when a dark and dismal night of woe had spread itself
over our first parents, a gleam of hope then shone out through the promise
of

Genesis 3:15.
Third, the lamp of the Gospel shone prophetically (

Galatians 3:8) and
typically (

Hebrews 4:2) during all the Old Testament period. It shone,
as it were, through a veil. Fourth, after the coming of Christ in the flesh,
and His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, the lamp of Gospel light
was brightened and its blessed rays were more widely diffused, but even
then (and now) according to the sovereign pleasure of God. To show how
much God is concerned about this “lamp” of the everlasting Gospel, we
mention several things which He had ordained concerning it.
1. God has appointed those places and parts of the world where the Gospel
lamp shall be set up and shine:
“The wind bloweth where it listeth….so is every one that is born of
the Spirit” (

John 3:8).
It was so in Old Testament times:
“He showeth His Word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments
unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His
judgments, they have not known them” (

Psalm 147:19-20).
It was so when Christ was upon Earth: to His apostles He said,
“Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the
Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the
house of Israel” (

Matthew 10:5-6).
It was so after His ascension:
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the regions of
Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the Word
in Asia. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into
Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not” (

Acts 16:6-7).
That which regulates God in His providential dealings concerning the
Gospel—opening doors or shutting them, sending one of His ministers to a
place or withdrawing him—is whether or not there be some of those for
whom Christ died in that particular locality: for the “sheep” shall hear His.43
voice (

John 10:16). Where there is no Gospel preaching for a
protracted period, it is an indication that none of God’s elect are there.
“Also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet
three months to the harvests: and I caused it to rain upon one city,
and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained
upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered”
(

Amos 4:7).
So it is spiritually, and for the reason thus given.
2. God has appointed how long the Gospel lamp shall remain in each place,
before it be sent to another part of the earth. He ordered how long it
should shine among the Jews, namely, until Christ came. He ordained how
long it should shine in each of the seven churches in Asia before He came
and removed His candlestick. So He has decreed where and when the
Gospel shall continue in this country. There is probably more real Gospel
preaching in China today, than there is in the U.S.A. Many a church which
was once a bright testimony for Christ is so no longer, nor does it know
that “Ichabod” (“the glory is departed”) has been written over it. Many a
town which formerly was blest with the ministry of a true servant of God is
now left desolate.
3. God has appointed which persons should be converted and edified under
the Gospel, when He sends it to any nation or congregation. The Most
High has not left it to the caprice of His servants nor to the whims of their
hearers, what measure of success the proclamation of His truth shall enjoy.
No, the Lord holds in His own right hand the instruments which He
employs (

Revelation 1:16), and causes His Word to be either a “savor
of death unto death” or “a savor of life unto life.” Paul was bidden by the
Lord to remain at Corinth, for, said He, “I have much people in this city”
(

Acts 18:10). On the other hand, God suffered him not to go into
Bithynia (

Acts 16:7).
When a servant of God settles in a new place he knows not who are the
particular ones that he has been ordained a blessing unto. His business is to
preach the Word to all who will hear him, leaving it with the Spirit to make
whatever application He pleases. The election of grace shall obtain eternal
life, the rest will be blinded (

Romans 11:7). Some will prove to be
wayside hearers, others stony-ground hearers, and yet others thorny-ground
hearers: only a few will give evidence that they are good-ground.44
hearers; but that is all in the hands of “the Lord of the harvest.” Nor should
we desire it to be otherwise. God is working out His own eternal purpose,
and absolute subjection to the Master’s will is what is required of servants.
A beam of the Gospel lamp will shine into one heart, when many others are
left in nature’s darkness.
“Why was I made to hear His voice
And enter while there’s room?
While others make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come.
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
Which sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.”
4. God has ordained by what instrument or minister the Gospel lamp shall
be brought unto a people or a particular person. Paul was ordained for the
Gentiles, Peter for the Jews; but every one of Christ’s servants is guided by
the hand of the sovereign Lord to labour in this, or that, or the other part
of His vineyard. The stars are held in His right hand (

Revelation 1:16),
and He causes them to shine in this or that orb of His church; and, when he
pleases, He removes them from one place to another in His kingdom,
where He has other work for them; and when He takes them to heaven,
then they that “turn many to righteousness” shall shine “as the stars forever
and ever” (

Daniel 12:3).
It is not by chance of “good luck” (horrible expression for any child of God
to use!) that any one is privileged to sit under the ministry of a man of God
to whom the Spirit blesses such to his conversion. No, when God works,
He works at both ends of the line, making “all things work together for
good” unto His own. It was sovereign grace which selected the Lord of
glory to be the one who should preach the Word of life to the Samaritan
adulteress (

John 4). It was sovereign grace which appointed Philip to be
the Spirit’s mouthpiece to the Ethiopian eunuch (

Acts 8). It was
sovereign grace which determined that Peter should give forth the word of
salvation to Cornelius and his household (

Acts 10): Cornelius was a
Roman, and Paul (already then saved) was the apostle to the Gentiles, yet
Peter (the apostle to the circumcision) was the one sent to him!
5. God has ordained the measure of fruit which each servant of His shall
reap from his labours, the degree of success which each Gospel lamp-.45
bearer shall have. He has determined what number of souls should be
edified, and which shall be hardened by his light.
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that
watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (

1 Corinthians 3:7).
It is not always the most gifted ministers, nor the most godly, who are the
most successful. So far as we can ascertain from the Gospel records, fewer
souls were saved under the preaching of Christ Himself than under Peter’s
on the day of Pentecost! Why? “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in
Thy sight” (

Matthew 11:26) must be the answer..46
PERSONAL HOLINESS
“That opinion that personal holiness is unnecessary to final
glorification is in direct opposition to even dictate of reason, to
even declaration of Scripture.”—Augustus Toplady
By our fall in Adam we not only lost the favor of God but also the purity of
our nature and therefore we need to be both reconciled to God and
renewed in our inner man, for without personal holiness “no man shall see
the Lord” (

Hebrews 12:14).
“As He which hath called you is holy; so be ye holy in all manner of
conversation (behavior); because it is written, Be ye holy for I am
holy” (

1 Peter 1:15, 16),
God’s nature is such that unless we be sanctified there can be no
intercourse between Him and us. But can persons be sinful and holy at one
and the same time? Genuine Christians discover so much carnality, filth,
and vileness in themselves that they find it almost impossible to be assured
they are holy. Nor is this difficulty solved, as in justification, by recognizing
that though completely unholy in ourselves we are holy in Christ, for
Scripture teaches that those who are sanctified by God are holy in
themselves, though the evil nature has not been removed from them.
None but “the pure in heart” will ever” see God” (

Matthew 5:8). There
must be that renovation of soul whereby our minds, affections and wills are
brought into harmony with God. There must be that impartial compliance
with the revealed will of God and abstinence from evil which issues from
faith and love. There must be that directing of all our actions to the glory
of God, by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel. There must be a spirit of
holiness working within the believer’s heart so as to sanctify his outward
actions if they are to be acceptable unto Him in whom “there is no
darkness” True, there is perfect holiness in Christ for the believer, but there
must also be a holy nature received from him. There are some who appear
to delight in the imputed obedience of Christ who make little or no concern
about personal holiness. They have much to say about being arrayed in “the
garments of salvation and covered with the robe of righteousness”
(

Isaiah 61:10), who give no evidence that they “are clothed with
humility” (

1 Peter 5:5) or that they have.47
“put on… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind,
meekness, longsuffering, forebearing one another and forgiving one
another” (

Colossians 3:12).
How many there are today who suppose that if they have trusted in Christ
all is sure to be well with them at the last even though they are not
personally holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan, as an angel of
light, has deceived and is now deceiving multitudes of souls. When their
“faith” is examined and tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all so far as
insuring an entrance into Heaven is concerned: it is a powerless, lifeless,
fruitless thing. The faith of God’s elect is unto “the acknowledging of the
truth which is after godliness” (

Titus 1:1). It is a faith which purifieth
the heart (

Acts 15:9), and it grieves over all impurity. It is a faith which
produces an unquestioning obedience (

Hebrews 11:8). They therefore
do but delude themselves who suppose they are daily drawing nearer to
Heaven while they are following those courses which lead only to Hell. He
who thinks to come to the enjoyment of God without being personally
holy, makes Him out to be an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity
upon Him. The genuiness of saving faith is only proved as it bears the
blossoms of experimental godliness and the fruits of true piety.
In Christ God has set before His people that standard of moral excellence
which He requires them to aim and strive after. In His life we behold a
glorious representation in our own nature of the walk of obedience which
He demands of us. Christ conformed Himself to us by His abasing
incarnation, how reasonable therefore it is that we should conform
ourselves to Him in the way of obedience and sanctification.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”
(

Philippians 2:5).
He came as near to us as was possible for Him to do, how reasonable then
is it that we should endeavor to come as near as it is possible for us to do.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me” (

Matthew 11:29).
If “even Christ pleased not Himself”(

Romans 15:3). how reasonable is
it that we should be required to deny ourselves and take up our cross and
follow Him (

Matthew 16:24), for without so doing we cannot be His
disciples (

Luke 14:27). If we are to be conformed to Christ in glory
how necessary that we first be conformed to Him in holiness:.48
“he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to walk even as
He walked:”(

1 John 2:6).
“Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”
(

2 Timothy 2:19):
let him either put on the life of Christ or drop the name of Christ..49
PRACTICAL GODLINESS
“Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only; deceiving your own selves”
(

James 1:22)
It is much, very much to be thankful for when the Holy Spirit has illumined
a man’s understanding, dispersed the mists of error, and established him in
the Truth. Yet that is only the beginning. The Holy Scriptures are
“profitable” not only for “doctrine” but also for “reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness” (

2 Timothy 3:16). Observe well the
order there: before we are ready to be instructed “in righteousness” (right
doing), there is much in our lives that God “reproves” and which we must
“correct.” Necessarily so, for before conversion everything in our lives was
wrong! For all we did was for the gratifying of self, with no thought or
concern for God’s honour and glory. Therefore, the first great need, and
the primary duty of every young convert is not to study the Old Testament
types, or puzzle his brains over prophecy, but to diligently search the
Scriptures in order to find out what is pleasing and displeasing to God,
what He forbids and what He commands.
If you have been genuinely converted, then your first concern must be to
form all the details of your life-in the home, in the church, in the world-so
as to please God. And in the actual bringing of this to pass, the order will
be “cease to do evil; learn to do well” (

Isaiah 1:16-17); “Depart from
evil, and do good” (

Psalm 34:14 and cf.

Psalm 37:27). There has to
be a breaking down before there can be a building up (

Ecclesiastes 3:3).
There has to be an emptying of self before there is the filling of the Spirit.
There has to be an unlearning before there is a true learning. And there has
to be a hating of ‘evil” before there is a loving of the “good” (

Amos
5:15 and cf.

Romans 12:9).
Now to the extent the young Christian does use the Holy Scriptures in a
practical way, regulating his thoughts, desires and actions by their warnings
and encouragements, their prohibitions and precepts, will very largely
determine the measure in which he will enjoy God’s blessing on his life. As
the moral Governor of the world God takes note of our conduct, and
sooner or later manifests His displeasure against our sins, and His approval
of a righteous walk, by granting that measure of prosperity which is most
for our good and His glory. In the keeping of His commandments “there is.50
great reward” (

Psalm 19:11) in this life (

1 Timothy 4:8). O how
much temporal and spiritual blessing most Christians miss through careless
and disobedient conduct: see

Isaiah 48:18!
The tragic thing is that instead of the average young Christian studying
diligently God’s Word so as to discover all the details of the divine will for
him, he does almost anything and everything else. Many a one engages in
“personal work” or some form of Christian “service” while his own life
remains full of things displeasing to God! The presence of those displeasing
things in his life hinders God’s blessings upon his soul, body, and temporal
affairs; and to him it has to be said:
“Your sins have withholden good things from you”
(

Jeremiah 5:25).
God’s Word to His people is:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
(

Philippians 2:12).
But O how little of this “fear and trembling” is to be found anywhere
today! Instead, there is self-esteem, self-confidence, boasting and carnal
security.
There are others who give themselves unto the diligent study of doctrine,
but, generally, they fail to realize that the doctrine of Scripture is not a
series of intellectual propositions, but is the “doctrine which is according to
godliness” (

1 Timothy 6:3). The “doctrine” or “teaching” of God’s
Holy Word is given not for the instruction of our brains, but for the
regulation of all the details of our daily lives; and this in order that we may
“adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things”
(

Titus 2:10).
But that can only be realized by a constant reading of the Word with one
dominant purpose-to discover what God forbids and what he commands;
by our meditating frequently on what we have read, and by fervent prayer
for supernatural grace to enable us to obey. If the young convert does not
early form the habit of treading the path of practical obedience to God,
then he will not have His ear when he prays! John states plainly one of the
main conditions which we must constantly seek grace to heed, if our
petitions are to meet with acceptance:.51
“and whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His
commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight”
(

1 John 3:22).
But if instead of submitting unto God’s holy requirements, we follow our
own inclinations, then it will be said,
“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and
your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear”
(

Isaiah 59:2).
This is unspeakably solemn. O what a difference it makes whether or not
we have experimental access to God!
Not only does the young Christian, by following a course of self-pleasing,
reduce his prayers to empty words, but he brings down upon himself the
rod of God, and everything goes wrong in his life. That is one reason why
many Christians are suffering just as sorely as the poor worldlings are: God
is displeased with their ways, and does not show Himself strong on their
behalf (

2 Chronicles 16:9). In this connection we have sought to point
out in the past the remedy, which calls for real heart-humbling before the
Lord, godly sorrow, true repentance, unsparing confession, the firm
determination to reform our ways; and then (and not before) faith’s
counting on God’s mercy and a patient expectation that He will work
wonders for us if we now tread the path of full submission to Him..52
REPENT OR PERISH
THESE were the words of the incarnate Son of God. They have never been
cancelled; nor will they be as long as this world lasts. Repentance is
absolute and necessary if the sinner is to make peace with God (

Isaiah
27:5), for repentance is the throwing down the weapons of rebellion
against Him. Repentance does not save, yet no sinner ever was or ever will
be saved without it. None but Christ saves, but an impenitent heart cannot
receive Him.
A sinner cannot truly believe until he repents. This is clear from the words
of Christ concerning His forerunner,
“For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye
believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him:
and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might
believe him” (

Matthew 21:32).
It is also evident from His clarion call in

Mark 1:15, “Repent ye, and
believe the gospel.” This is why the apostle Paul testified
“repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”
(

Acts 20:21).
Make no mistake on this point dear reader, God “now commandeth all men
every where to repent” (

Acts 17:30).
In requiring repentance from us, God is pressing His righteous claims upon
us. He is infinitely worthy of supreme love and honor, and of universal
obedience. This we have wickedly denied Him. Both an acknowledgement
and amendment of this is required from us. Our disaffection for Him and
our rebellion against Him are to be owned and made an end of. Thus
repentance is a heartfelt realization of how dreadfully I have failed, all
through my life, to give God His rightful place in my heart and daily walk.
The righteousness of God’s demand for my repentance is evident if we
consider the heinous nature of sin. Sin is a renouncmg of Him who made
me. It is refusing Him His right to govern me. It is the determination to
please myself; thus, it is rebellion against the Almighty. Sin is spiritual
lawlessness, and utter disregard for God’s authority. It is saying in my.53
heart: I care not what God requires, I am going to have my own way; I
care not what be God’s claim upon me, I am going to be lord over myself.
Reader, do you realize that this is how you have lived?
Now true repentance issues from a realization in the heart, wrought therein
by the Holy Spirit, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, of the awfulness of
ignoring the claims of Him who made me, of defying His authority. It is
therefore a holy hatred and horror of sin, a deep sorrow for it, and
acknowledgement of it before God, and a complete heart-forsaking of it.
Not until this is done will God pardon us.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth
and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (

Proverbs 28:13).
In true repentance the heart turns to God and acknowledges My heart has
been set upon a vain world, which could not meet the needs of my soul; I
forsook Thee, the fountain of living waters, and turned unto broken
cisterns which held none: I now own and bewail my folly. But more, it
says: I have been a disloyal and rebellious creature, but I will be so no
longer. I now desire and determine with all my might to serve and obey
Thee as my only Lord. I betake myself to Thee as my present and
everlasting Portion.
Reader, be you a professing Christian or no, it is repent or perish. For
every one of us, church members or otherwise, it is either turn Or burn;
turn from your course of self-will and self-pleasing; turn in brokenness of
heart to God, seeking His mercy in Christ; turn with full purpose of heart
to please and serve HIM: or be tormented day and night, for ever and ever,
in the Lake of Fire. Which shall it be? Oh, get down on your knees right
now and beg God to give you the spirit of true repentance.
“Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a
Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins”
(

Acts 5:31).
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be
repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death”
(

2 Corinthians 7:10)..54
SUBJECTION UNDER GOD’S
CHASTISEMENT
By nature we are not in subjection. We are born into this world filled with
the spirit of insubordination. As the descendants of our rebellious first
parents we inherit their evil nature. “Man is born like a wild ass’s colt”
(

Job 11:12). This is very unpalatable and humbling, but nevertheless it
is true. As

Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “we have turned every one to his own
way” and that way is opposition to the revealed will of God. Even at
conversion this wild and rebellious nature is not eradicated. A new nature
is given, but the old one lusts against it. It is because of this that discipline
and chastisement are needed by us, and the great design of these is to bring
us into subjection to the Father of Spirits. We shall now attempt two
things: explain the meaning of this expression “be in subjection unto the
Father,” and enforce this with reasons presented in our text.
I. THE SUBJECTION DESIGNED:
To be “in subjection unto the Father” is a phrase of extensive import, and it
is well that we should understand its various significations.
1. IT DENOTES AN ACQUIESCENCE IN GOD’S SOVEREIGN
RIGHT TO DO WITH US AS HE PLEASES.
See

Psalm 39:9. “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou
didst it”. It is the duty of saints to be mute under the rod and silent beneath
the sharpest afflictions. But this is only possible as we see the hand of God
in them. If God’s hand be not seen in the trial, the heart will do nothing but
fret and fume. Read

2 Samuel 16:10,11.
“And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of
Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him,
Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son,
which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more.55
now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse for
the Lord hath bidden him.”
What an example of complete submission to the sovereign will of the Most
High was this! David knew that Shimei could not curse him without God’s
permission.
“This will set my heart at rest,
What My God appoints is best”.
But with rare exceptions many chastenings are needed to bring us to this
place, and to keep us there.
2. IT IMPLIES A RENUNCIATION OF SELF-WILL.
To be in subjection unto the Father presupposes a surrendering and
resigning of ourselves to Him. A blessed illustration of this is found in

Leviticus 10:1-3,
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his
censer, and put fire therein, and offered strange fire before the
Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire
from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying
I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me and before all the
people. And Aaron held his peace.”
They could grow forever by walking in constant communion with God and
in obedience to His Word.
Consider the circumstances. Aaron’s two sons, most probably intoxicated
at the time, were suddenly cut off by Divine judgment. Their father had no
warning to prepare him for this trial; yet he “held his peace”! O quarrel not
against Jehovah. Be clay in the hands of the Potter. Take Christ’s yoke
upon you and learn of Him who was “meek and lowly in heart.”
3. IT SIGNIFIES AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF GOD’S
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WISDOM IN ALL HIS DEALINGS WITH US.
We must vindicate God. This is what the Psalmist did.
“I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in
Faithfulness has afflicted me” (

119:75)..56
Let us see to it that Widsom is ever justified by her children. Let our
confession of her be
“righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments”
(

Psalm 119:137).
Whatever is sent, we must vindicate the Sender of all things. The Judge of
all the earth cannot do wrong.
The Babylonian captivity was the severest affliction which God ever
brought upon His earthly people during Old Testament times. Yet even
then a renewed heart acknowledged God’s righteousness in it:
“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible
God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem
little before Thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our
princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our
fathers, and on all Thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria
unto this day. Howbeit Thou art just in all that is brought upon us;
for Thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly.”
(

Nehemiah 9:32,33).
God’s enemies may talk of His injustice; let His children proclaim His
righteousness. Because God is good, He can do nothing but what is right
and good.
4. IT INCLUDES A RECOGNITION OF HIS CARE
AND A SENSE OF HIS LOVE.
There is a sulking submission and there is a cheerful submission. There is a
fatalistic submission which takes this attitude—this is inevitable, so I must
bow to it; and there is a thankful submission, receiving with gratitude
whatever God may be pleased to send us.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy
statutes” (

Psalm 119:71).
The Psalmist viewed his chastisements with the eye of faith, and doing so
he perceived the love behind them. Remember that when God brings His
people into the wilderness it is that they may learn more of His sufficiency;
when He casts them into the furnace it is that they may enjoy His presence..57
5. IT INVOLVES AN ACTIVE PERFORMANCE OF HIS WILL.
Submission to the “Father of spirits” is something more than a passive
thing. The other meanings to this expression which we have already
considered are more or less of a negative character. But there is also a
positive and an active side to it as well. To be “in subjection” also means to
walk in His precepts and run in the way of His commandments. It means
being submissive to His Word, our thoughts being formed and our ways
being regulated by it. There is a doing as well as a suffering of God’s will.
God requires obedience from His children, a performance of duties. When
we pray “Thy will be done” something more is meant than a pious
acquiescence in the will of the Almighty; it also signifies, May Thy will be
performed by me. Subjection unto the Father of spirits, then, is the
practical owning of His Lordship.
II. REASONS FOR THIS SUBJECTION:
1. BECAUSE HE IS OUR FATHER.
It is but right and meet that children should be in subjection to their father.
How much more so when we have such a Father! There is nothing
tyrannical about Him; His commandments “are not grievous?” but are
designed for our good. How profoundly thankful we should be that the
great God now stands revealed as our “Father”! This is one of the
distinctive revelations of the N.T. I very much doubt if Aaron or Eli, Job or
David knew God in this relationship; yet they “submitted”! How much
more ought we! May grace ever enable us to say with the Saviour,
“the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it!”
(

John 18:11).
2. BECAUSE THIS IS THE SECRET OF TRUE HAPPINESS.
I believe that the force of the last two words in our text are “and be
happy”. The word “live” or “life” is used in this sense in

Deuteronomy
5:23 – note “prolong your days” is in addition. Such is its force in

Psalm 119:116. It is the fretful, the murmuring and rebellious, who are
miserable and wretched. Making the will of God our haven is the true
resting place for our hearts. Our lives conformed to His will is the secret of.58
contentment and joy. “Take My yoke upon you and ye shall find rest unto
your souls,” declared the Saviour. In keeping God’s commandments there
is great reward. “Great peace have they that love Thy law”, said the
Psalmist. May the Spirit of God work in all of us; the true spirit of
subjection, even though it takes severe chastisement to effect it..59
THE COVENANT ALLEGORY
The last eleven verses of Galatians 4 are far from being free of difficulties
appears from the diverse expositions of the commentators. Nor will the
limited space now at our disposal allow us to enter into as full an
elucidation as could be wished, nor permit the pausing now and again to
furnish collateral proofs for what is advanced, as would be our desire.
Brevity has its advantages, but it does not always make for clarity. We
must, however, content ourselves now with a comparatively terse running
comment on this passage, and that, according to the limited light which we
have therefrom.

Galatians 4:21-31 is in several respects very similar to the contents of 2
Corinthians 3. In each case the apostle is opposing himself to the errors
which had been sedulously propagated amongst his converts by Judaizers.
In each case he shows that the fundamental issue between them concerned
the covenants, for any teacher who is confused thereon is certain to go
astray in all his preaching. In each case the apostle appeals to well-known
incidents in the Old Testament Scripture, and with the wisdom given him
from above proceeds to bring out the deep spiritual meaning thereof. In
each case he establishes conclusively the immeasurable superiority of
Christianity over Judaism, and thus completely undermined the very
foundations of his adversaries’ position. Though of peculiar importance to
those unto whom the apostle wrote immediately, yet this passage contains
not a little of great value for us today.
“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the
law?” (

Galatians 4:21).
Here the apostle addresses himself to those who had been lending a ready
ear to their spiritual enemies. By his “ye that desire to be under the law”
signified those who hankered after subjection to Judaism. His “do ye not
hear the law?” means, Are you willing to listen unto what is recorded in the
first book of the Pentateuch and have pointed out to you the dispensational
significance of the same? Paul’s design was to show those who were so
anxious to be circumcised and submit themselves to the whole Mosaic
system, that, so far from such a course being honorable and beneficial, it
would be fraught with danger and disgrace. To yield unto those who
sought to seduce them spiritually would inevitably result in “bondage” (see.60

Galatians 4:9) and not “liberty” (

Galatians 5:1). To prevent this, he
begs them to listen to what God had said.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a
bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was born of the
bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was
by promise. Which things are an allegory” (vv. 22.24).
Very remarkable indeed is this, for we are here divinely informed that not
merely did the Mosaic rites possess a typical significance, but the lives of
the patriarchs themselves had a figurative meaning. Not only so, but their
affairs were so controlled by providence that they were shaped to shadow
forth coming events of vast magnitude. Paul was here moved by the Spirit
to inform us that the domestic occurrences in Abraham’s household were a
parable in action, which parable he had interpreted for us. Thus we are
granted an insight to passages in Genesis which no human wisdom could
possibly have penetrated.
The transactions in the family of Abraham were divinely ordered to presage
important dispensational epochs. The domestic affairs of the patriarch’s
household were invested with a prophetic significance. The historical
incidents recorded in Genesis 16 and 21 possessed a typical meaning,
contained beneath their surface spiritual truths of profound importance.
The apostle here reminds his readers of the circumstances recorded of the
two wives of Abraham, and of their respective offspring, and declares that
the mothers adumbrated the two covenants, and their sons, the respective
tendencies and results of those covenant, in other words, Sarah and Hagar
are to be viewed as the representatives of the two covenants, and the sons
which they bore as representatives of the kind of worshipers which those
covenants were fitted to produce.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid the
other by a free woman.” The apostle’s design was to wean those Galatians
who were Judaistically inclined from their strange infatuation for an
obsolete and servile system, by unfolding to them its true nature. This he
does by referring them to an emblematic representation of the two
economies. Abraham had a number of other sons besides Ishmael and
Isaac, but it is to them alone—the circumstances of their birth, subsequent
conduct, history, and fate—that Paul’s discussion exclusively relates..61
In her unbelief and impatience (unwilling to wait for God to make good
His word in His own time and way) Sarah gave her maid to Abraham in
order that he might not be wholly without posterity. Though this caused
confusion and brought trouble upon all concerned, yet it was ordained by
God to presage great dispensational distinctions, nor did it in any wise
thwart the accomplishment of His eternal purpose. “Abraham had two
sons”, Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian, a bondslave; Isaac, the son of
Sarah, a free woman, of the same rank as her husband. As we have already
said, these two mothers prefigured the two covenants, and their children
the worshipers which those covenants tended to produce.
“But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but
he of the free woman was by promise” (v. 23).
Great as was the disparity between the two mothers, greater still was the
difference between the way in which their respective sons were born.
Ishmael was born in the ordinary course of generation, for “after the flesh”
signifies to the carnal counsel which Sarah gave to Abraham, and by the
mere strength of nature. In connection with the birth of Ishmael there was
not any special promise given, nor any extraordinary divine interposition.
Vastly different was it in the case of Isaac. for he was the child of promise
and born in direct consequence of the miracle-working power of God, and
was under the benefit of that promise as long as he lived. What is here
specially emphasized by the apostle is that the son of the slave was in an
Inferior condition from the very beginning.
“Which things are an allegory” (v. 24).
An allegory is a parabolic method of conveying instruction, spiritual truths
being set forth under material figures. Allegories are in words what
hieroglyphics are in printing, both of which abound among the Orientals—
Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is the best-sustained allegory in the English
language. “For these (feminine) are the two covenants” (v. 24). Here the
apostle proceeds to give us the occult meaning of the historical facts
alluded to in the preceding verse. He affirms that the domestic incidents in
the family of Abraham constituted a divinely ordained illustration of the
basic principles in regard to the condition of spiritual slaves and of spiritual
freemen, and are to be regarded as adumbrating the bondage which
subjection to the law of Moses produced and the liberty which submission
to the gospel secures..62
“These are the two covenants.” This cannot of course be understood
literally, for it was neither intelligible nor true that Sarah and Hagar were
actually two covenants in their own persons. The words is and are
frequently have the force of represent. When Christ affirmed of the
sacramental bread “This is my body,” He meant, this bread emblematizes
My body. When we read of the cliff smitten by Moses in the wilderness
(out of which gushed the stream of living water) “that rock was Christ”
(

1 Corinthians 10:4), it obviously signifies, that rock prefigured Christ.
So too when we are told
“the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven
candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches”
(

Revelation 1:20),
we are to understand that the one symbolized the other.
“These are the two covenants.” There has been much difference of opinion
as to exactly which covenants are intended. Some insist that the reference
is to the everlasting covenant of grace and the Ademic or covenant of
works; others argue it is the Abrahamic or covenant of promise and the
Sinaitic; while others conclude it is the Sinaitic and the Christian or that
which is made with the people of God in the gospel. Really, it is more a
matter of terms than anything else, for whatever nomenclature we adopt it
comes to much the same thing.
“The one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is
Hagar” (v. 24):
by which is meant, that order of things under which the nation of Israel was
placed at Sinai, appointed for the purpose of keeping them a separate
people, and which because of its legalistic nature was fitly foreshadowed
by the bondslave.
“The one (covenant) from mount Sinai, which gendereth to
bondage” or produces those of a servile spirit, for it made slaves of
all who sought justification and salvation by their own doings. It is
to be carefully borne in mind that the relation entered into between
God and Israel at Sinai was entirely a natural one, being made with
the nation as such; and consequently all their descendants, upon
their being circumcised, automatically became subjects of it without
any spiritual change being wrought in them. “So far as this
covenant gave birth to any children, those were not true children of.63
God, free, spiritual, with hearts of filial confidence and devoted
love; but miserable bondmen, selfish, carnal, full of mistrust and
fear. Of these children of the Sinaitic covenant we are furnished
with the most perfect exemplar in the Scribes and Pharisees of our
lord’s time” (P. Fairbairn).
“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia” (v. 25).
Here again Is signifies “represents”: Hagar prophetically anticipated and
prefigured Mount Sinai—not the literal mount, but that covenant which
Jehovah there entered into with the nation of Israel. Nor is this mode of
expression by any means unusual in Scripture: when representing Samaria
and Jerusalem by two women the prophet said, “Samaria is Aholah and
Jerusalem Aholibah” (

Ezekiel 23:4). “And answereth to Jerusalem
which now is” (v. 25). “Answereth to” signifies “corresponds with,” or as
the margin gives it, is in the same rank with”: the origin, status, and
condition of Hagar supplied an exact analogy to the state of Jerusalem in
the apostle’s time. Jerusalem, which was the metropolis of Palestine and
the headquarters of its religion, stands for Judaism.
“And is in bondage with her children (v. 25).
Judaism was subject to an endless round of ceremonial institutions, which
the apostles themselves declared to be a yoke “which neither our fathers
nor we were able to bear” (

Acts 15:10). Those under it enjoyed none of
that spiritual liberty which the gospel bestows upon those who submit to its
terms. That large part of the nation which had no interest in the covenant
of promise made with Abraham (whereof faith was an indespensable
prerequisite for entering into the good of it), was indeed outwardly a part
of Abraham’s family and members of the visible church (as Hagar was a
member of his family); yet (like Ishmael) they were born in servitude. and
all their outward obedience was of a slavish character, and their privileges
(as his) but carnal and temporal.
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us
all” (v. 26).
Here Paul shows what was prefigured by Sarah. Three things are said in
describing the covenant and constitution of which she was the appropriate
emblem, each of which must be duly noted in the framing of our definition..64
1. “Jerusalem which is above.” This word “above” (ano) is generally
employed of location, and would thus signify the heavenly Jerusalem
(

Hebrews 12:22) in contrast from the earthly. But here it is placed in
antithesis from “which now is” (v. 25) and would thus mean the prior and
primitive Jerusalem, of which Melchizedec was king (

Hebrews 7:2) and
to whose order of Priesthood Christ’s pertains. Or the “above” may have
the force of excellency or supremacy as in “high calling” (

Philippians
3:14). Combining the three: Sarah shadowed forth the entire election of
grace; all true believers from the beginning to the end of time.
2. Which “is free”: such was the status and state of Sarah in contrast from
that of Hagar, the bondslave. Suitably did Sarah set forth that spiritual
liberty which is to be found in Christ, for He redeems all His people from
the bondage of sin and death. Believing Gentiles are freed from the curse
of the moral law, and believing Jews are freed from the dominion of the
ceremonial law as well.
3. “Which is the mother of us all.” The reference is not to the church either
visible or invisible, for she cannot be the parent of herself; rather is it the
everlasting covenant of grace which is in view, in which were included all
true believers. Thus the difference between the systems represented by
Hagar and Sarah are: the one was earthly, carnal, slavish, temporary; the
other, heavenly, spiritual. free, eternal.
“For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that barest not; break forth
and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more
children than she which hath a husband” (v. 27).
This was obviously brought in by Paul to confirm the interpretation he had
made of the covenant allegory. It is a quotation from the predictions of
Isaiah. Four things call for our consideration:
(1) the needs-be for this comforting promise which God then gave;
(2) the precise place in Isaiah’s prophecy from which this quotation is
taken;
(3) the particular manner in which it is here introduced;
(4) its striking pertinency to the apostle’s purpose.
The needs-be for this reassuring word given by the lord is His believing yet
sorrowing people in the days of Isaiah is not difficult to perceive, if we.65
bear in mind the exact terms of the promise originally given to the patriarch
and his wife, and then consider the state of Israel under Judaism. The grand
promise to Abraham was that he should be “a father of many nations”
(

Genesis 17:4), and that Sarah should be “a mother of nations”
(

Genesis 17:16). But at Sinai Sarah’s natural children were placed
under a covenant which erected a middle wall of partition, shutting them
off from all other nations. How rigorous the restrictions of the covenant
were and the exclusiveness it produced, appear plainly in the unwillingness
of Peter (till supernaturally authorized by God) to enter the house of
Cornelius (

Acts 10:28).
The Sinaitic covenant consisted largely in “meats and drinks and carnal
ordinances”; yet was it imposed only “till the time of reformation”
(

Hebrews 9:10). It was well adapted to Israel after the flesh, for it
encouraged them to obedience by the promise of temporal prosperity and
restrained by fear of temporal judgments. Amid the great mass of the
unregenerate Jews there was always a remnant according to the election of
grace, whose heart God had touched (

1 Samuel 10:26), in whose heart
was His law (

Isaiah 51:7). But the nation as a whole had become
thoroughly corrupt by the time of Isaiah, being deaf to the voice of
Jehovah and fast ripening for judgment (

Isaiah 1:2-6). The godly
portion had diminished to “a very small remnant” (

Isaiah 1:9), and the
outlook was fearfully dark. It was to strengthen the faith of the spiritual
and comfort their hearts that Isaiah was raised up.
The quotation here made by Paul was from

Isaiah 54:1, and its very
location intimated clearly that it looked forward to gospel times, for
coming immediately after that graphic description of the Redeemeer’s
sufferings in the previous chapter, it at once suggests that we are then
given a picture of those new covenant conditions which followed His
death. This is ever God’s way: in the darkest night He causes the stars of
hope to shed forth their welcome light, bidding His people to look beyond
the gloomy present to the brighter future. God had not forgotten His
promise to the patriarch; and though many centuries had intervened, the
coming of His Son would make good the ancient oracles, for all the divine
promises are established in Christ (

2 Corinthians 1:19, 20).
Let us next note the manner in which Paul introduces Isaiah’s prediction
into his discussion: “For it is written.” It is clear that the apostle cites the
prophet to establish what he had affirmed regarding the allegorical.66
significance of the circumstances of Abraham’s household. This at once
fixes for us the elucidation of the prophecy. Paul had pointed out that
Abraham had sons by two diverse wives, that those sons represented the
different type of worshipers which the two covenants produced. that Sarah,
(as representing the Abrahamic covenant) which he here likened unto
“Jerusalem which is above,” is “the mother of us all.” In turn, Isaiah refers
to two women, views them allegorically; apostrophizing the one as
“barren” and contrasting her from one “who had a husband,” assuring the
former of a far more numerous progeny.
How pertinent Isaiah’s prediction was to the apostle’s argument is evident.
His design was to turn away the hearts of the Galatians from Judaism, and
to accomplish this he demonstrates that that system had been superseded
by something far more blessed and spiritually productive. “For it is written,
Rejoice, thou barren.” Whom was the prophet there addressing?
Immediately, the godly remnant in Israel, the children of faith, those who
had their standing in and derived their blessing from the Abrahamic
covenant. Isaiah addressed them in the terms of the allegory. Just as the
historical Sarah was childless for many years after she became the wife of
Abraham, so the mystical Sarah (Abrahamic covenant) had for long
centuries shown no sign whatever of coming to fruition. But as the literal
Sarah ultimately became a mother, so the mystical one should bear a
numerous seed.
Marvelous indeed are the ways of God, and remarkably is His decree
wrought out through His providences. That parable in action in the
household of Abraham contemplated that which took thousands of years to
unfold.
First, was the marriage between Abraham and Sarah, which
symbolized the covenant union between God and His people.
Second, for many years Sarah remained barren, foreshadowing that
lengthy period during which God’s purpose in that covenant was
suspended.
Third, Hagar, the bondslave, took Sarah’s place in the family of
Abraham, typifying his natural descendants being placed under the
Sinaitic covenant.
Fourth, Hagar did not permanently supplant Sarah, adumbrating the
fact that Judaism was of but temporary duration..67
Fifth, ultimately Sarah came into her own and was divinely enabled to
bear a supernatural seed—an emblem of the spiritual children of God
under the new covenant.
“Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not.” The Abrahamic covenant is here
represented as a wife who (like Sarah) had long remained childless.
Comparatively few real children had been raised up to God among the
Jews from Moses onward. True, the nation was in outward covenant with
Him, and thus was (like Hagar in the type) “she who hath a husband”; but
all the fruit they bore was like unto Ishmael—that which was merely
natural, the product of the flesh. But the death of Christ was to alter all
this: though the Jews would reject Him, there should be a great accession
to the spiritual family of Abraham from among the Gentiles, so that there
would be a far greater number of saints under the new covenant than had
pertained under the old.
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise”
(v. 28).
Here the apostle begins his application of the allegory. As Sarah prefigured
the covenant of grace, so Isaac represented the true children of God. Paul
was here addressing himself to his spiritual brethren, and therefore the
“we” includes all who are born from above— believing Gentiles as well as
Jews. “We,” the children of the new covenant, represented in the allegory
by Isaac. Our standing and state is essentially different from Ishmael’s, for
he (like the great mass of those under the Sinaitic covenant) belong to the
ordinary course of mere nature; whereas genuine Christians are “the
children of promise”— of that made to Abraham, which, in turn, made
manifest what God had “promised before the world began” (

Titus 1:2).
The relation into which believers are brought with God originates in a
miracle of grace which was the subject of divine promise.
“But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that
was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (v. 29).
Here the apostle brings in a further detail supplied by the allegory which
was germane to his subject. He refers to the opposition made against Isaac
by the son of Hagar, recorded in

Genesis 21:9. This received its
counterpart in the attitude of the Judaizers toward Christians. They who
still adhere to the old covenant were hostile to those who enjoyed the
freedom of the new. Probably one reason why the apostle mentioned this.68
particular was in order to meet an objection: How can we be the “children
of promise” (God’s high favorites) seeing we are so bitterly hated and
opposed by the Jews? The answer is, No marvel, for thus it was from the
beginning: the carnal have ever persecuted the spiritual.
“Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman
and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with
the son of the free woman” (v. 30).
Here is the final point in the allegory (taken from

Genesis 21:10, 12)
and which incontestably clinched the apostle’s argument that Israel after
the flesh are finally set aside by God. Hagar represented the Sinaitic
covenant and Ishmael its carnal worshipers, and their being cast out of
Abraham’s household prophetically signified God’s setting aside of
Judaism and the fact that the natural descendants of Abraham had no place
among his spiritual children and could not share their heritage (cf.

John
8:34, 35). The two cannot unite: pure Christianity necessarily excludes
Judaism. In its wider application (for today): none who seek salvation by
law-keeping shall enter heaven.
“So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of
the free” (v. 31).
Here the plain and inescapable conclusion is drawn; since Christians are the
children of promise, they and not carnal Jews are the true heirs of
Abraham. Since the new covenant is superior to the old and believers in
Christ are freed from all debasing servitude, it obviously follows they must
conduct themselves as the lord’s freemen. The time had now arrived when
to cling to Judaism was fatal. The controversy turned on the question of
who are the real heirs of Abraham (see 3:7, 16, 29). In chapter 4 the
apostle exposes the empty pretensions of those who could claim only
fleshly descent from the patriarch. We are the children of Abraham, said
the Judaizers.
Abraham had two sons, replies Paul—the one of free, the other of servile
birth: to which line do you belong? whose spirit have you received?
To sum up. Paul’s design was to deliver the Galatians from the Judaizers.
He showed that by submitting to Judaism they would forfeit the blessings
of Christianity. This he accomplished by opening up the profound
significance of the covenant allegory, which presented three principal
contrasts: birth by nature as opposed to grace; a state of bondage as.69
opposed to liberty; a status of temporary tenure as opposed to permanent
possession. Just as Hagar was rightfully the handmaid of Sarah but was
wrongfully accorded the position of Abraham’s wife, so the Sinaitic
covenant was designed to supplement the Abrahamic but was perverted by
the Jews when they sought from it salvation and fruitfulness..70
THE EYE OF FAITH
“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye
seeth Thee” (

Job 42:5).
What did Job signify by this? Obviously his words are not to be understood
literally. No, by employing a common figure of speech, he meant that the
mists of unbelief (occasioned by self-righteousness) had now been
dispelled, and faith perceived the being of God as a glorious and living
reality. (“Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord”

Psalm 25:15), by which
is meant that his faith was constantly in exercise. Of Moses it is said that
“he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (

Hebrews 11:27), that is,
his heart was sustained through faith’s being occupied with the mighty
God.
Faith is frequently represented in Scripture under the metaphor of bodily
sight. Our Lord said of the great patriarch,
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and
was glad” (

John 8:56),
meaning that his faith looked forward to the day of Christ’s humiliation and
exaltation. Paul was commissioned unto the Gentiles to
“open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God” (

Acts 26:18);
or, in other words, to be the Divine instrument of their conversion through
preaching to them the Word of Faith. To some of his erring children he
wrote,
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not
obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently
(plainly) set forth, crucified among you” (

Galatians 3:1).
Now what we wish to point out in this article is, that when scripture speaks
of faith under the notion of bodily sight, its writers were doing something
more than availing themselves of a pertinent and suitable figure of speech.
The Author of Scripture is the One who first formed the eye, that
marvelous organ of vision and without a shadow of doubt He so fashioned
it as to strikingly adumbrate in the visible that which now plays so.71
prominent a part in the Christian’s dealings with the invisible. Everything in
the material world shadows forth some great reality in the spiritual realm,
as we should perceive had we but sufficient wisdom to discern the fact. A
wide field is here opened for observation and meditation, but we shall now
confine ourselves to a single example, namely, the eye of the body as it
symbolizes the faith of the heart.
1. The eye is a passive organ. The eye does not send out a light from itself,
nor does it give anything unto the objects it beholds-what can the eye
communicate to the sun, moon, and stars, when it gazes upon them! No,
the eye merely receives the print or image of them into the mind (on the
retina, which is then transmitted to the brain) without adding anything to
them. Just so is it with faith: it gives nothing unto God, or to what it
beholds in the Word of His grace. It simply receives or takes them into the
heart as they are presented to the soul’s view in the light of the Divine
revelation. What did the bitten Israelites communicate unto the brazen
serpent when they looked unto it, and were healed? As little do we add
unto Christ, when we “look” unto Him and are saved (

Isaiah 45:22).
2. The eye is a directing organ. The man that has the light of day and his
eyes open can see his way, and is not so likely to stumble into ditches or
fall into a precipice as a blind man, or one who walks at nighttime. So it is
with faith: “The way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at what
they stumble,” but “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth
more and more unto the perfect day” (

Proverbs 4:19, 18). Of Christians
it is said that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (

2 Corinthians 5:7). By
“looking off unto Jesus” (faith’s viewing our Exemplar) we are enabled to
run the race which is set before us.
3. The eye is a very quick organ, taking up things at a great distance.
Within a fraction of a moment I can turn my gaze from things lying on the
ground and focus it upon the mountains which are many miles away; nay,
more, I can look away altogether from the things of earth and mount up
among the stars, and in a second view the entire expanse of the heavens.
What an optical marvel is that! Equally wonderful is the power of faith: it is
indeed a quick-sighted grace, taking up things at a great distance, as the
faith of the patriarchs did, who saw the things promised “afar off’
(

Hebrews 11:13). So too, in a moment faith may look back to an
eternity past and view the everlasting springs of electing love, active on its
behalf before the foundations of the earth were laid, and then, in the same.72
breath, it can turn itself towards an eternity yet to come, and take a view of
the hidden glories of an invisible world within the vail.
4. The eye, though it be little, is a very capacious organ. The man that has
the light of day and has his eyes open may see all that comes with the range
of his vision: he may look around and see things behind, forward and view
things ahead, downward upon the waters in a well or a stream at the
bottom of a deep ravine, upwards and gaze upon bodies in the distant
heavens. So is it with faith: it extends itself unto everything that lies within
the vast compass of God’s Word. It takes knowledge of things in the
distant past, it also apprehends things that are yet to come; it looks into
Hell, and penetrates into Heaven. It is able to discern the vanity of the
world all around us.
It is true that there may be a genuine faith that takes in but little of the light
of Divine revelation at first. Yet here again the earthly adumbration
accurately shadows forth this spiritual truth. The eye of an infant takes in
the light and perceives external objects, but with a good deal of weakness
and confusion, until as it grows more its vision extends further and further.
So it is with the eye of faith. At first, the light of spiritual knowledge is but
dim: the babe in Christ is unable to see afar off. But as faith grows deeper
and deeper into the Divine mysteries, until it comes at length to be
swallowed up on open vision (

John 17:24).
5. The eye is a very assuring faculty. Of the five bodily senses, this is the
most convincing. What are we more sure of, than what we see with our
eyes! Some fools may seek to persuade themselves that matter is a mental
delusion, but no one in his right mind will believe them. If a man sees the
sun shining in the heavens, he knows that it is day. In like manner, faith is a
grace which carries in its very nature a great deal of certainty:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen” (

Hebrews 11:1).
Skeptics may deny the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, but when the
eye of faith has gazed upon its supernatural beauties, the point is settled
once for all. Others may regard the Christ of God as a pious myth, but
once the saint has really beheld the Lamb of God, it can say “I know that
my Redeemer liveth.”
6. The eye is an impressing organ: what we see, leaves an impression upon
our minds, that is why we need to pray often.73
“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity” (

Psalm 119:37);
that is why the prophet declared
“mine eye affecteth mine heart” (

Lamentations 3:51).
If a man looks steadily at the sun for a few moments an impression of the
sun is left in his eye, even though he turn his eyes away from it, or shuts
them. In like manner, real faith leaves an impression of the Sun of
righteousness upon the heart: “they looked unto Him, and were lightened”
(

Psalm 34:5). Even more definite is

2 Corinthians 3:18:
“But 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, as by
the Spirit of the Lord.”
As the mighty power of Christ will, in a coming day, transform the bodies
of His people from mortality to life and from dishonor to glory, so also
does the Holy Spirit now exert a moral transforming power on the
character of those who are His, and that by calling faith into exercise, the
activity of which more and more conforms the soul to the image of God’s
Son.
7. The eye is a wondrous organ. Those who are competent to express an
opinion, affirm that this particular member is the most curious and
remarkable of any part of the human body: there is much of the wisdom
and power of the Creator to be discovered in the formation of the visive
faculty. So too faith is a grace that is curiously and wondrously wrought in
the soul. There is more of the wisdom and power of the Divine Workman
discovered in the formation of the grace of faith than in any other part of
the new creature. Thus we read of the “work of faith with power” (

2
Thessalonians 1:11), yea, that the same exceeding great and mighty power
which was put forth by God in the raising of Christ from the dead is
exerted upon and within them that believe (

Ephesians 1:19).
8. The eye of the body is a very tender thing: it is soon hurt and easily
damaged. A very tiny cinder will cause pain and make it weep and it is very
striking to note that that is the very way to recovery-it weeps out the dust
or mote that gets into it. So too faith is a most delicate grace, thriving best
in a pure conscience: hence the apostle speaks of “holding the mystery of
the faith in a pure conscience” (

1 Timothy 3:9). The lively actings of
faith are soon marred by the dust of sin, or by the vanities of the world.74
getting into the heart where it is seated. And where ever true faith is, if it
be hurt by sin, it vents itself in a way of godly sorrow.
N.B. For most of the above we are indebted to a sermon preached by Ebon.
Erskine in 1740..75
THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is
the hope of His calling.” (

Ephesians 1:18)
WHAT IS MEANT by “the hope of His calling”? This is really a double
question: What is meant by the word hope in this passage, and what is
meant by His calling?
In Scripture hope always respects something future, and signifies far more
than a mere wish that it may be realized. It sets forth a confident
expectation that it will be realized (

Psalm 16:9). In many passages hope
has reference to its object, that is, to the thing expected (

Romans 8:25),
the One looked to: “O Lord, the hope of Israel” (

Jeremiah 17:13). In
other passages refers to the grace of hope, that is, the faculty by which we
expect. Hope is used in this sense in

1 Corinthians 13:13: “Now abideth
faith, hope, charity.” Sometimes hope expresses the assurance we have of
our personal interest in the thing hoped for:
“tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and
experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed” (

Romans
5:3,5).
That is, hope deepens our assurance of our personal confidence in God. In
still other cases hope has reference to the ground of our expectation. The
clause “there is hope in Israel concerning this thing” (

Ezra 10:2) means
there were good grounds to hope for it. “Who against hope believed in
hope” (

Romans 4:18): though contrary to nature, Abraham was
persuaded he had sufficient ground to expect God to make good His
promise. The unregenerate are without hope (

Ephesians 2:12). They
have hope, but it is based on no solid foundation.
Now in the last mentioned sense we regard the word hope as being used in
our present passage: that you may know the ground on which rests your
expectation of His calling, that you may be assured of your personal
interest therein, that you may stand in no doubt regarding the same, that
you may be so enlightened from above as to be able to clearly perceive that
you have both part and lot in it. In other words, that your evidence of this
ground of faith may be clear and unmistakable. First, Paul prayed for an
increased knowledge of God, that is, such spiritual sights and.76
apprehensions of Him as led to more real and intimate fellowship with Him,
which is the basic longing of every renewed soul. And what did he desire
next to that? Was it not that which contributed most to his peace and
comfort, namely, to be assured of his own filial relation to God? What does
it avail my soul to perceive the excellency of the divine character unless I
have scriptural warrant to view Him as God? That is what I need to have
continually kept fresh in my heart.
WHAT IS MEANT BY “HIS CALLING”?
Here is another term which is used by no means uniformly in the
Scriptures. Broadly speaking, there is a twofold calling of God or call from
God: an external one and an internal one. The former is made to all who
hear the gospel:
“Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man”
(

Proverbs 8:4).
“Many are called, but few chosen” (

Matthew 20:16).
That external call through the Scriptures is addressed to human
responsibility and meets with universal rejection.
“I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and
no man regarded” (

Proverbs 1:24).
“Come, for all things are now ready; and they all with one consent
began to make excuse” (

Luke 14:18).
But God gives another call to His elect; a quickening call, an inward call,
an invincible call, what the theologians term His effectual call.
“Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He
called, them He also justified” (

Romans 8:30).
This is calling from death to life. Out of darkness into God’s “marvelous
light” (

1 Peter 2:9). As the closing verses of 1 Corinthians 1 tell us, not
many receive this call; it is one of mercy and discriminating grace.
OUR TEXT THEN SPEAKS of the effectual call, and it is called HIS calling,
because God is the Author of it. The regenerate are “the called according
to His (eternal) purpose” (

Romans 8:28), because God is the Caller.
Yet, having said that much, we have only generalized, and we must bring.77
out the various shades of meaning which the same word bears in different
verses. In some passages the effectual call which God gives His people
refers to that work of grace itself, as in

1 Peter 2:9. In others it
concerns more especially that to which God has called them—“unto His
kingdom and glory” (

1 Thessalonians 2:12), “unto holiness” (

1
Thessalonians 4:7). There seems to be nothing in our present verse which
requires us to restrict the scope of the word, so we shall interpret it in its
double sense; “that ye may be assured ye have been made partakers of
God’s effectual or regenerative call: that ye may perceive the sure grounds
of hope which God has called you unto.”
TAKE THE CALLING ITSELF first. Paul desired that the Ephesians might have
a better knowledge or assurance that they had been supernaturally
quickened, personally called out of darkness into God’s light. If the
Christian measures himself impartially by the Word, he should have no
difficulty on that score. He should be certain of his salvation. he ought to
be able to say, humbly yet confidently,
“one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see”
(

John 9:25).
If I see, with a feeling sense in my heart, what a heinous and filthy thing all
sin is, what a depraved and loathsome creature I am by nature, what a sink
of iniquity still remains within me, what a suitable and sufficient Savior
Christ is for such a wretch as me, what a lovely and desirable thing holiness
is, then I must have been called to life. If I am now conscious of holy
desires and endeavors to which I was previously a stranger, then I must be
alive in Christ.
Take, second, that to which the Christian is called – in this verse, an
assured expectation: “that ye may know what is the hope of His calling.”
As God has called His people to holiness, so also He has called them to be
full of hope and good cheer. The apostle prayed in another place,
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost”
(

Romans 15:13).
Thus, we may understand that by His calling we may know that hope
which God has commanded us as Christians to have; —(

1
Thessalonians 4:7), “God hath called us not to uncleanness, but unto
holiness,” means that He bids us to be holy, for the third verse of the same.78
chapter declares “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” In that
passage the will and calling of God are one and the same thing. Thus it may
also be understood here: “That ye may know the hope of His revealed
will,” which He requires us to have.
“THAT YE MAY KNOW,” not being ignorant or doubtful. This denies one of
the doctrines of the Council of Trent: “If any affirm that a regenerate and
justified man is bound to believe that he is certainly in the number of the
elect, let such a one be accursed.”—The very fact that Paul was inspired to
place on record this petition shows clearly that it is God’s WILL FOR His
people to have assurance, that it is both their privilege and duty to
earnestly seek it, and that an increased experience of assurance should be
theirs. A doubting Thomas does not honor God.
NOW LET US put the whole together. Only as the eyes of our understanding
are divinely enlightened are we able to know “what is the hope of His
calling”—know it, not by carnal presumption nor by mental acumen but
perceive it with anointed vision. Nevertheless, if our eyes are not
enlightened, the fault is entirely our own, for it is the revealed will of God
that each regenerate person should have assurance that he is a new creature
in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit has given us one whole epistle to that very
end:
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of
the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life”
(

1 John 5:13).
Hence, those who would have the Christian believe that a firm and abiding
assurance is not desirable, are standing on an unscriptural doctrine.
NOTE HOW EMPHATIC it is: “the eyes of YOUR understanding being
enlightened that YE may know.” That cannot signify less than that your
OWN eyes should see what grounds of assurance the Christian really has to
know that eternal life is his, that his own heart may realize the hope which
God has bidden him to exercise. Not to see with someone else’s eyes, not
to read through creedal spectacles, not to take any man’s say-so for it, but
to live by your own God-given faith and read in the light of Holy Writ your
own clear evidences. The apostle prayed here that they might know what
great, infallible, multitudinous grounds of hope God had called them to;
that they might appreciate what grounds of assurance and evidence they
had that heaven was theirs; that they might have assurance of their own.79
interest in heaven! Every time I truly mourn over my sins, feel my poverty
of spirit, hunger and thirst after righteousness, I have an indubitable
evidence that I am among the “blessed”.
PRECEPTS AND PETITIONS are complementary one to the other. The
precepts tell me what God requires and therefore what I need to ask Him
for most, that enabling grace may be given me to perform the same. The
prayers intimate what it is my privilege and duty to make request for, thus
they indirectly reveal my duty.
“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”
(

2 Peter 1:10),
is the divine precept making known my duty. That “the Father of glory,
may give unto you… wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the
eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is
the hope of His calling” is a request that I may be enabled to successfully
carry out that task of making my election sure. This petition tells us we
ought to labor after and pray earnestly for a clearer insight into and a fuller
acquaintance with the great objects of the Christian’s hopes and
expectations.
We cannot obtain a true and influential knowledge of the grounds which
regeneration gives its subject to hope that he has passed from death to life,
nor realize what confidence in God He has bidden him to have (for both
things are included) unless our eyes are divinely anointed. No matter how
clearly and vividly the landscape appears when the sun is shining, a blind
man does not behold it. Christ is manifestly set forth in the gospel, but the
hearer must be given spiritual sight before he will perceive the absolute
suitability of such a Savior in his own desperate case. Even after
regeneration, the Christian is still completely dependent on divine
illumination in order for him to continue apprehending spiritual things.
No reading of commentaries can secure an answer to his petition, and even
a searching or study of the Scriptures will not of itself convey to the
believer a spiritual and influential knowledge. Only as and when the eyes of
his understanding are enlightened will that delightful and wondrous
experience be his.
Quoting Thomas Watson on

Exodus 20:2;.80
In former times (before the Reformation) we worshipped God after
a false manner: we had purgatory, indulgences, the idolatrous mass,
the Scriptures locked up in an unknown tongue, invocation of
saints and angels, image-worship. O what cause have we to bless
God for delivering us from popery!
If it be a great blessing to be delivered from Egypt, popish idolatry; then it
shows their sin and folly, who, being brought out of Egypt, are willing to
return into Egypt again; having put off the yoke of Rome, would fain put it
on again. The apostle says, “Flee from idolatry.” But these rather flee to
idolatry; herein they are like the people of Israel, who, notwithstanding all
the idolatry and tyranny of Egypt, yet longed to go back to Egypt;
“Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt”
(

Numbers 14:4).
But how shall they go back into Egypt? How shall they have food in the
wilderness? Will God rain down manna any more upon such rebels? How
will they get over the sea? Will God divide the water again by miracle for
such as leave His service, and go into idolatrous Egypt? Yet they say, Let
us make a captain, —And are there not such spirits amongst us, who say,
“Let us make a captain, and go back to the Romish Egypt again?” And if
we do, what shall we get by it? I am afraid the leeks and onions of Egypt
will make us sick. Do we ever think, if we drink in the cup of fornication,
we shall drink in the cup of salvation? O that any should so forfeit their
reason, as to enslave themselves to the see of Rome! That they should be
willing to hold a candle to a mass-priest, and bow down to a strange god.
Let us not say we will make a captain; but rather say as Ephraim, “What
have I to do any more with idols?” Pray that the true Protestant religion
may still flourish among us, that the sun of the gospel may still shine in our
horizon..81
THE NARROW WAY
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the
way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in
thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”
(

Matthew 7:13-14).
The second half of Matthew 7 forms the applicatory part of that most
important discourse of our Lord’s, known as “the Sermon on the Mount.”
One leading design of the Sermon was to show the spiritual nature and
wide extent of that obedience which characterizes the true subjects of
Christ’s kingdom, and which obedience is absolutely necessary for the
enjoyment of that ultimate state of blessedness which Divine grace has
provided for them. As the Prophet of God, Christ made known that the
righteousness which obtains in His kingdom greatly exceeds the
“righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees.”
Now the Jews imagined that they were all of them the subjects of the
Messiah’s kingdom; that by virtue of their descent from Abraham, they
were the rightful heirs of it; that the “righteousness of the scribes and
Pharisees” (that system of religious and moral duty taught by them) met all
the requirements of God’s law. But this delusion the Lord Jesus here
exposed fleshly descent from Abraham could not give title unto a spiritual
kingdom: That which was merely natural was no qualification for the
supernatural realm: Only they were accounted the true children of
Abraham who had his faith (

Romans 4:16), who did his works (

John
8:39), and who were united to Christ (

Galatians 3:29).
In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord delineated the inward state of those
who belonged to His spiritual kingdom (

Matthew 5:4-11); described the
outward conduct by which they might be identified (

Matthew 5:13-16);
expounded the personal righteousness which God’s justice demanded
(

Matthew 5:17-28); and defined that utter repudiation of sin which he
required from His people (

Matthew 5:29-30). So high are the demands
of the thrice holy One, so uncompromising are the requirements of His
ineffable character, that none can dwell with him eternally who do not in
time, loathe, resist, and turn from all that is repulsive to His pure eye.
Nothing short of the complete denying of self, the abandoning of the.82
dearest idol, the forsaking of the most cherished sinful course-figuratively
represented under the cutting off of a right hand and the plucking out of a
right eye-is what He claims from every one who would have communion
with Himself.
Such plain and pointed declarations of Christ must have seemed “hard
sayings” to the multitudes who listened to Him; such piercing and flesh-withering
demands would probably cause many of his Jewish hearers to
think within themselves, “Who then can be saved? This is indeed a strait
gate and a narrow way.” Anticipating their secret objections, the Lord
plainly declared that the Gate unto salvation is “Strait” and the Way which
leadeth unto life is “Narrow;” yet, He went on to point out, it is your
wisdom, your interest, your duty to enter that “Gate” and walk that “Way.”
He acknowledged and faithfully warned them that there was a “Wide gate”
soliciting their entrance, and a “Broad road” inviting them to walk therein;
but that gate leads to perdition, that road ends in Hell. The “Strait Gate” is
the only gate to “life,” the “Narrow Way” is the only one which conducts
to Heaven. Few indeed find it, few have the least inclination for it; but that
very fact ought only to provide an additional incentive to my giving all
diligence to enter therein. In the verses which are now to be before us,
Christ defined and described the Way of salvation, though we (sorrowfully)
admit that modern evangelists (?) rarely expound it. What we shall now
endeavor to set forth is very different from what most have been taught,
but you reject it at your peril. We repeat, that in that passage we are about
to consider, He who was Truth incarnate made known the only way of
escaping Perdition and securing Heaven, namely, by entering the “Strait
Gate” and treading the “Narrow Way.”
THE STRAIT GATE
The Greek word for “Strait” signifies restrained or “Narrow” and is so
rendered in the R.V. Now a “Gate” serves two purposes: it lets in and it
shuts out. All who enter this Narrow Gate gain admittance to that “Way”
which “leadeth unto life;” but all who enter not by this Narrow Gate, are
eternally barred from God’s presence. The second use of this Gate is
solemnly illustrated at the close of the parable of the virgins. There, our
Lord pictures the foolish ones as being without the necessary “oil” (the
work of the Spirit in the heart), and while they went to buy it, the
Bridegroom came, and “the door was shut” (

Matthew 25:10); and.83
though they then besought him to open it to them, He answered “I know
you not.”
1. WHAT IS DENOTED BY THIS FIGURE OF THE “NARROW GATE?” We believe
the reference is to the searching and solemn teaching of Him who is Truth
incarnate. It is only as the heart bows to the righteousness of God’s claims
and demands upon us as set forth by His Son, that any soul can enter that
path which alone leads to Him. While the heart is rebellious against Him
there can be no approach to Him, for—“Can two walk together except
they be agreed?” It is true, blessedly and gloriously true, that Christ
Himself is “the Door” (

John 10:9), and He is so in a threefold way,
according to the three principal functions of His mediatorial office. He is
“the Door” into God’s presence as the Prophet, the Priest, and the King.
Now it is only as Christ is truly received as God’s authoritative Prophet,
only as His holy teachings are really accepted by a contrite heart, that any
one is prepared to savingly welcome Him as Priest. Christ is the “Way” and
“the Truth” before he is the “Life” (

John 14:6), as he is “first King of
righteousness, and after that, also King of peace” (

Hebrews 7:2). In
other words, His cleansing blood is only available for those who are willing
to throw down the weapons of their warfare against God, and surrender
themselves to his holy rule. The wicked must forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts, if he is to be pardoned by God (

Isaiah
55:7); and this is only another way of saying that Christ must be received
as Prophet, before he is embraced as Priest.
2. WHY IS THIS GATE A “NARROW” ONE? For at least three reasons:
First, because of sin. “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, all the nations
that forget God”

Psalm 9:17. The gate of heaven is far too narrow to
admit such characters. The New Testament plainly affirms the same fact:
“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor
covetous man who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the
kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain
words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon
the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with
them” (

Ephesians 5:5-7).
Second, because of the Law. There are two principal errors about the
Law, and I know not which is the more dangerous and disastrous: that one.84
can earn heaven by obeying it; that one may enter heaven without that
personal and practical godliness which the Law requires.
“Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall
see the Lord” (

Hebrews 12:14):
where there is not this personal conformity to the will of God, the strong
hand of the Law will close the door of heaven.
Third, because none can take the world along with him: this Gate is far
too “Narrow” to admit those who love the world.
3. WHAT IS MEANT BY “ENTERING” THIS NARROW GATE?
First, the acceptance of those teachings of truth, of duty, of happiness,
which were unfolded by Christ; the honest and actual receiving into the
heart of His holy, searching, flesh-withering instructions. Such acceptance
as a person, with great difficulty, forcing his way through a circumscribed
entrance. I say “with great difficulty,” for Christ’s precepts and
commandments are, to the last degree, unpalatable to an unrenewed heart,
and cannot be willingly and gladly received without a rigid denial of self
and relinquishment of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. Christ has
plainly warned us that it is impossible for a man to serve two masters. Self,
must be repudiated, and Christ received as “the Lord” (

Colossians 2:6),
or He will not save us.
Second, a deliberate abandoning of the Broad Road, or the flesh-pleasing
mode of life. Until this has been done, there is no salvation possible for any
sinner. Christ Himself taught this plainly in Luke 15: the “prodigal” must
leave the “far country” before he could journey to the Father’s House! The
same pointed truth is taught again in

James 4:8-10,
“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your
hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be
afflicted and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to
mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the
sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.
Ah, my friend, to really and actually enter this “Narrow Gate” is no easy
matter. For that reason the Lord bade the people.85
“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which
endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto
you” (

John 6:27).
Those words do not picture salvation as a thing of simple and easy
attainment. Ponder also Christ’s emphatic exhortation in

Luke 13:24
“Strive to enter in at the Strait Gate.” That He should utter such a word,
clearly implies the great idleness and sloth which characterizes nominal
professors, as it also intimates there are formidable difficulties and
obstacles to be overcome. Let it be carefully noted that the Greek word for
“strive” (viz. “agonizomai”) in

Luke 13:24 is the same one that is used
in

1 Corinthians 9:25—“And every one that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things;” and is also rendered “labouring fervently” in

Colossians 4:12, and “fight” in

1 Timothy 6:12!
And how are we to “strive” so as to “enter” the Narrow Gate? The general
answer is, “lawfully” (

2 Timothy 2:5); but to particularize: We are to
strive by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those
things which would bar our entrance. We are to earnestly cry to Christ for
help from those foes which are seeking to overcome us. We are to come
constantly to the Throne of Grace, that we may there find grace to help us
repudiate and turn away with loathing from everything which is abhorred
by God, even though it involves our cutting off of a right hand and
plucking out of a right eye; and grace to help us do those things which He
has commanded. We must be “temperate in all things,” especially those
things which the flesh craves and the world loves.
BUT WHY IS SUCH “STRIVING” NECESSARY?
First, because Satan is striving to destroy thy soul.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
(

1 Peter 5:8);
therefore must he be resisted “steadfast in the faith.”
Second, because natural appetites are striving to destroy thee:
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain
from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (

1 Peter 2:11)..86
Third, because the whole world is arrayed against thee, and if it cannot
burn, it will seek to turn thee by alluring promises, Delilah-like guiles, fatal
enticements. Unless you overcome the world, the world will overcome you
to the eternal destruction of thy soul.
From what has been before us, we may plainly discover why it is that the
vast majority of our fellow-men and women, yea, and of professing
Christians also, will fail to reach Heaven: it is because they prefer sin to
holiness, indulging the lusts of the flesh to walking according to the
scriptures, self to Christ, the world to God. It is as the Lord Jesus
declared-“
Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were
evil” (

John 3:19):
men refuse to deny self, abandon their idols, and submit to Christ as Lord;
and without this, none can take the first step toward Heaven!
THE NARROW WAY
Just as entering the “Narrow Gate” signifies the heart’s acceptance of
Christ’s holy teaching, so to walk along the “Narrow Way” means for the
heart and life to be constantly regulated thereby. Walking along the
Narrow Way denotes a steady perseverance in faith and obedience to the
Lord Jesus; overcoming all opposition, rejecting every temptation to
forsake the path of fidelity to Him. It is called the “Narrow Way” because
all self-pleasing and self-seeking is shut out. In

Genesis 18:19 it is called
“the Way of the Lord;” in

Exodus 13:21, 32:8 “the Way;” in

1
Samuel 12:23 “the good and right Way;” in

Psalm 25:9 “His Way;” in

Proverbs 4:11 “the Way of wisdom;” in

Proverbs 8:20 “the Way of
righteousness;” in

Proverbs 10:17 “the Way of life;” in

Isaiah 35:8
“the Way of holiness;” in

Jeremiah 6:16 “the good Way;” in

2 Peter
2:2 “the Way of truth;” in

2 Peter 2:15 “the right Way,”
The Narrow Way must be followed, no matter how much it may militate
against my worldly interests. It is right here that the testing point is
reached: it is much easier (unto the natural man) and far pleasanter to
indulge the flesh and follow our worldly propensities. The Broad Road,
where the flesh is allowed “liberty” —under the pretense of the Christian’s
not “being under the law” —is easy, smooth, and attractive; but it ends in
“destruction!” Though the “Narrow Way” leads to life, only FEW tread it..87
Multitudes make a profession and claim to be saved, but their lives give no
evidence that they are “strangers and pilgrims” here, with their “treasure”
elsewhere. They are afraid of being thought narrow and peculiar, strict and
puritanical. Satan has deceived them: they imagine that they can get to
heaven by an easier route than by denying self, taking up their cross daily,
and following Christ!
There are multitudes of religionists who are attempting to combine the two
“ways,” making the best of both worlds and serving two masters. They
wish to gratify self in time and enjoy the happiness of Heaven in eternity.
Crowds of nominal Christians are deluding themselves into believing that
they can do so; but they are terribly deceived. A profession which is not
verified by mortifying the deeds of the body in the power of the Spirit
(

Romans 8:13), is vain. A faith which is not evidenced by complete
submission to Christ, is only the faith of demons. A love which does not
keep Christ’s commandments, is an imposition (

John 14:23). A claim to
being a Christian, where there is no real yieldedness to the will of God, is
daring presumption. The reason why so few will enter Life is because the
multitudes are not seeking it in the way of God’s appointing: none seek it
aright save those who pass through the Narrow Gate, and who, despite
many discouragements and falls, continue to press forward along the
Narrow Way.
Now notice, carefully, the very next thing which immediately followed our
Lord’s reference to the two ways in Matthew 7:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (

Matthew 7:15).
Why does this come in next? Who are the “false prophets” against which a
serious soul needs to be on his guard? They are those who teach that
Heaven may be reached without treading the Narrow Way! They are those
who loudly insist that eternal life may be obtained on much easier terms.
They come in “sheep’s clothing:” they appear (to undiscerning souls) to
exalt Christ, to emphasize His precious blood, to magnify God’s grace.
BUT they do not insist upon repentance; they fail to tell their hearers that
nothing but a broken heart which hates sin can truly believe in Christ; they
declare not that a saving faith is a living one which purifies the heart
(

Acts 15:9) and overcomes the world (

1 John 5:4)..88
These “false prophets” are known by their “fruits,” the primary reference
being to their “converts”-the fruits of their fleshly labours. Their “converts”
are on the Broad Road, which is not the path of open wickedness and vice,
but of a religion which pleases the flesh: it is that
“way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the
ways of death” (

Proverbs 14:12).
Those who are on this Broad Road (this way which “seemeth right” to so
many), have a head-knowledge of the Truth, but they walk not in it. The
“Narrow Way” is bounded by the commandments and precepts of
Scripture; the Broad Road is that path which has broken out beyond the
bounds of Scripture.

Titus 2:11-12 supplies the test as to which “way”
we are in: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should
live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”
Ere closing, let us anticipate and seek to remove an objection. Probably
many of you are saying, “I thought Christ was the Way to the Father”
(

John 14:6). So He is, but how?
First, in that He has removed every legal obstacle, and thereby opened a
way to heaven for His people.
Second, in that He has “left us an example that we should follow HIS
steps.” The mere opening of a door does not give me entrance into a
house: I must tread the path leading to it, and mount the steps. Christ has,
by His life of unreserved obedience to God, shown us the Way which leads
to Heaven:
“When He putteth forth His own sheep, HE goeth before them, and
the sheep follow Him” (

John 10:4).
Third, in that He is willing and ready to bestow grace and strength to walk
therein. Christ did not come here and die in order to make it unnecessary
for me to please and obey God. No indeed:
“He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them”
(

2 Corinthians 5:15).
“Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this
present evil world” (

Galatians 1:4)..89
“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
works” (

Titus 2:14).
Christ came here to “save His people from their sins” (

Matthew 1:21);
and if you are not now delivered from the power of sin, from the
deceptions of Satan, from the love of the world, and from the pleasing of
self, then you are NOT saved. May it please the God of all grace to add
His blessing..90
THE PRODIGAL SON

LUKE 15:11-32
11 “And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the
portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his
living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and
took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance
with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that
land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he
sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine
did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of
my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with
hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I
have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of
thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great
way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell
on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven,
and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and
put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be
merry:.91
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is
found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh
to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things
meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath
killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father
out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I
serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:
and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with
my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy
living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I
have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy
brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
Before we attempt to expound this portion of Scripture in detail let us first
make a few general observations. Who does the “prodigal son” represent?
Is it an unregenerate sinner, or a backslidden believer that is in view? There
is a division of sentiment upon this point. Personally, we have no doubt
whatever that in this part of the parable of the Salvation of the Lost, the
Lord Jesus pictures an unregenerate sinner. Our interpretation will proceed
along this line, but before we give it, let us first present some proofs that it
is not a backslidden believer that is before us.
First, the whole context shows plainly the class that is portrayed
throughout the entire chapter. In the first two verses of Luke 15 we are
told, “Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear
Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth
sinners, and eateth with them.” Here, then, Christ is seen in connection
with the lost. It was in answer to this criticism of the Pharisees and scribes
that our Savior proceeded to utter the parable which has brought life and
peace to countless souls since then. And in this parable the Lord is not.92
warning His disciples against the danger of backsliding, but is vindicating
Himself for “receiving sinners.”
That part of the parable which treats of what has been termed “the prodigal
son” begins at the eleventh verse, but what we have here and in the verses
that follow is only a continuation of what the Lord said as recorded in the
previous verses. In these previous verses He depicts a man going after a
lost sheep until he finds it; and also a woman who loses one piece of silver,
and who sweeps the house and seeks diligently until she finds it. Surely
there can be no doubt whatever as to who is figured by the “lost sheep,”
and the “lost piece of silver.” Surely it is obvious that these picture an
unregenerate soul and not a backsliden believer.
In the third place, the words which the “father” spoke when the wandering
son returned, furnish another proof that it is a sinner and not an erring son,
who is before us. Said he, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him.”
(v. 22) The “best robe” here speaks of the Robe of Righteousness which
each sinner receives when he first comes to Christ. Had it been a
backslidden believer, his need would be to have his feet “washed.” (John
13)
Finally, the “father’s” statement concerning his son is proof positive that it
is no erring Christian that is here in view. The father said, “For this my son
was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (v. 24) This is
conclusive to all who believe that “the gifts and calling of God are without
repentance.” (

Romans 11:29) Every believer is in present possession of
eternal life, which he has received from God as his “gift” (

Romans
6:23); and this “gift” is never recalled. If then the believer is in present
possession of eternal life he can never die. (See

John 8:51.) That the
father spoke of the returning prodigal as one who “was dead,” and who
“was lost” is proof positive that an unregenerate sinner is here in view.
There is only one argument that is of any force against what we have said
above, and that we will briefly consider. We are asked to explain how
Christ could speak of this wanderer as a “son” if he represented an
unregenerate sinner. Insuperable as the difficulty appears at first sight it is,
nevertheless, capable of simple solution. We answer in a word that this
wanderer who came to the “father” was a son by election. He was a son in
the purpose of God. If we should be asked to point to a scripture which
justifies such an assertion, where those of God’s elect are termed “sons”.93
before they are actually regenerated, we would at once refer to

John
11:51, 52:
“He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for
that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the
children of God that were scattered abroad.”
Here we are told that the ones who were to definitely benefit from the
death of Christ, and who should be “gathered together in one” (that is, into
one family), were, at that time “scattered abroad,” nevertheless, they were
denominated “the children of God”! Another scripture which enunciates
the same principle is

John 10:16 where we find the Savior declaring
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must
bring”: even before they were brought to Himself the Good Shepherd
terms them His sheep.
Before giving a detailed exposition of the closing verses of Luke 15, we
would point out that this chapter does not contain three parables, as is
commonly supposed, but instead, one parable, in three Parts. In verse 3 we
are told, “He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you
having an hundred sheep,” etc. Again in verse 8 we read how that the
Savior continued to say, without any break, “Either what woman having
ten pieces of silver, if she lost one piece,” etc. Then in verse 11 it is
recorded, “And He said, A certain man had two sons,” etc. This parable as
a whole has to do with the Salvation of a lost sinner, and much of its
beauty is missed by failing to discern its unbroken unity. It gives a beautiful
and marvelous picture of the concern of each of the three Persons of the
Holy Trinity in the salvation of the lost. In the third part of this parable we
are shown a sinner coming into the presence of the Father. But in order to
appreciate the preciousness of this we must pay careful attention to what
precedes.
In the second part of this one parable, we have brought before us, in
figurative form, the work of the Holy Spirit, and this, we know, is what
precedes the coming of any sinner into the presence of the Father. And on
what is the work of the Holy Spirit based? The answer is, upon the work of
Christ; and this is what we have portrayed in the first part of the parable,
where the Shepherd is in view. We pause to notice very briefly a few
details in connection with these two things..94
In verses 4 to 7 we see the work of Christ as the Good Shepherd. First, He
is the One “having an hundred sheep”; He is the One to whom the “sheep”
belong—they belong to Him because they’re given to Him by the Father.
Second, He is the One that is said to “go after that which is lost”: this
pictures Christ leaving His home on high and coming down to this earth
where His lost sheep were. Third, next we are told that He goes after the
lost “until He find it”: this brings us to the Cross—the place of death, for it
was there the “sheep” were, and only there could they be found. Fourth,
“And when He hath found it, He layeth it on His shoulders”: this tells of
the tender care of the Savior for His own, and also assures us of the safe
place which we now have in Him—it is blessed to note that in

Isaiah 9:6
where Christ’s future kingship is in view, we are told “The government
shall be upon His shoulder,” the singular number being used; whereas it is
the plural number when the place which the sheep has is mentioned—
shoulder upholds the government of the world, shoulders give double
guarantee to our preservation. Fifth, “He layeth it on His shoulders,
rejoicing.” How wondrous is this! We can understand that the sheep should
find abundant cause to rejoice over the Shepherd, but that the Savior (the
Self-Sufficient One) should have occasion to rejoice in the salvation of
poor hell-deserving sinners “passeth knowledge.” Sixth, “And when He
cometh home”: this tells of the blessed issue of the Savior’s work and the
happy success of the Shepherd’s quest. Notice that Heaven is here termed
“Home”—a figure that will well repay prolonged meditation. Seventh,
“And when He cometh home, He calleth together His friends and
neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with Me; for I have found My sheep
which was lost”: how this reveals to us the heart of Christ! Not only does
He rejoice over the salvation of the lost, but He will call upon the angels to
share His joy.
In verses 8 to 10 we see the work of the Holy Spirit. Notice three things.
First, that the “woman” who here prefigures Him, lights a candle, ere she
was lost. How accurate the figure! This is precisely what the Spirit of God
does in His operations. He uses a light, and that light is the Lamp of Life
the Word of God—the entrances of the very words of which “giveth light.”
In the second place, unlike the work of the Shepherd, which was on the
outside, the sphere of the woman’s operations was on the inside “the
house.” So, the external Work of Christ was done for us, but the Work of
the Spirit is done in us. In the third place, the gracious patience and blessed
perseverance of the Holy Spirit in His divine work within those who by.95
nature are rebels, is here portrayed in the fact that we are told the woman
will “seek diligently till she find.” The result of the first part of this parable
which portrays the Work of Christ, and of the second part of the parable
which depicts the Work of the Holy Spirit, is brought before us in the third
part of the parable which shows us the poor sinner actually coming into the
presence of the Father.
This parable then tells us three things about the Godhead: the Shepherd’s
toil, the Spirit’s search, and the hearty welcome which the Father gives to
the sinner that comes back to Himself. But this is not all: the striking thing
is that we have here a marvelous representation of the mystery of the Holy
Trinity. As already pointed out, Luke 15 does not give us three parables,
but instead one parable in three parts, and each one of these three parts
brings before us separately, each of the three Persons in the Godhead: so
that we have here one in three, and three in one.
We are also taught three outstanding things in connection with the sinner.
In the first part of the parable he is seen under the figure of a sheep that is
lost; this intimates the stupidity of the sinner who, like a lost sheep, is
unable to find his way home, and who if he is to be restored must be
sought. In the second part of the parable he is seen under the figure of a
coin and is lost: here we have an inanimate object, in other words, that
which accurately portrays the solemn fact that the sinner is spiritually dead.
In the third part of the parable he is seen under the figure of a dissolute
son, away in the far-country: this gives us a representation of the natural
man’s moral condition: alienated from God and wayward at heart.
It is the third part of this parable which is now to engage our attention, that
part of the parable which views the sinner coming into the presence of
God. It is the human side that is now made prominent. Here we are shown
the sinner’s consciousness of his need: he “began to be in want.” Here we
are shown the sinner exercising his will: “I will arise.” Here we are shown
the sinner repenting: “I… will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against
heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” But
let it be borne in mind that before the sinner does any of these three things
God has previously been at work upon him. Let us not forget that in this
wonderful and blessed parable the Lord Jesus gives us the divine side first,
before He makes mention of the human side. Therefore, let those who
desire to “follow His steps” give careful heed to this principle.” We shall
now consider—.96
1. He had a “substance” or “portion.”
“A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his
father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And
he divided unto them his living.” (vv. 11, 12)
In addition to our natural endowments or talents, and our time and
strength, God has given to every one of His creatures a soul. This soul may
be regarded as capital in hand with which to do our trading both for time
and eternity. It is a most valuable portion, for it is worth more than “the
whole world”; it is worth more than the whole world because it will endure
after the world and all its works have been burnt up.
This parable begins by bringing into view the sinner before he goes out into
the “far country,” or to use the language of the parable, before he “took his
journey into a far country.” It was while in the father’s house that he
received his “portion of goods,” and that “he (the father) divided unto them
(his) living,” so that the portion received was a living portion. This can
only refer to the creature, prior to his birth into this world, receiving from
“the Father of spirits” (

Hebrews 12:9) a “living soul.”
2. He “took his journey into a far country” (v. 13).
The “far country” is the world which is away from God, so far away that
“the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” (

James 5:19) As the result of
Adam’s sin, man was separated from God, and all of Adam’s descendants
enter this world “alienated from the life of God.” (

Ephesians 4:18)
There is a great gulf between the thrice holy God and the sinful creature
which none but Christ can bridge. The sinner is away from God in his
heart, in his thoughts, in his ways. How much this explains!
It explains Atheism. Atheism, is simply man’s attempt to hide from the
discomfiture of God’s acknowledged presence. Men will give you many
reasons as to why they are infidels, agnostics, and atheists, but these
reasons are, in reality, only so many “excuses” (

Luke 14:18): the real
reason is that men are determined to get away from the avowed
acknowledgement of God.
This explains the general neglect among men of the Bible. They will give
you many reasons as to why they do not read it—they cannot find the time,
there is much in it they cannot understand, and there are so many
conflicting interpretations of its contents, and so they leave it alone. Men.97
esteem the holy Word of God less highly than they do the writings of their
fellow sinners. And yet the Scriptures treat of many subjects of profound
importance and vital moment: they furnish the only reliable information
concerning the origin of man, the nature of man, the purpose of man’s
existence, and the life beyond the grave, etc. Impelled by an uneasy
conscience many will read a chapter in the Bible now and again, but that is
all, and the real reason for this is because the Bible brings man into the
presence of God, and that is the very last thing the natural man desires.
What a proof is this, then, that he is in “the far country”; that at heart he is
away from the Father!
This explains why it is that sinners, as such, have no delight in prayer. Real
prayer is a direct speaking to God through the mediation of Christ. It is
that which brings us into contact and communion with the Great Invisible.
But the sinner has no heart for this. He finds no enjoyment in pouring out
his soul to God. If he prays at all, prayer is an irksome task and a mere
repetition of words. He had rather do almost anything than pray, and the
reason for this is because he wants to keep away from God.
This explains why it is that the sinner has no real delight in the public
worship of God. It is true that he may go to church: a vague sense of duty
may take him there, or it may be from force of habit acquired through a
Christian upbringing, or it may be an uneasy conscience which renders him
a punctual attendant. Nor is he always an uninterested hearer. When the
preacher delivers his message with oratorical fire and with rhetorical
embellishments that are pleasing to the ear, he is not only interested but
gratified. But let the preacher forget his rhetoric, let him leave his
generalizations—let him address himself directly to the sinner’s conscience,
and say “Thou art the man”; let him be brought into the presence of God
and the poor unsaved listener will at once he rendered uneasy, and it is
more than doubtful whether he will return any more to hear that preacher.
3. He “wasted his substance with riotous living.” (v. 13)
As pointed out above, “the substance” is the living soul which every man
receives from his Creator, and which is to be regarded as capital in hand
with which to do his trading both for time and eternity. And here is how
the sinner, every sinner, uses the “portion” that he has received from the
Father of spirits. He squanders it. Let it be said emphatically that this
‘prodigal son’ is not merely a representation of some particular class of
sinners who are more wicked than their fellows, whose offences against.98
God are more flagrant than the general run of sinners; but instead, the
‘prodigal son’ pictures the course that is followed by every descendant of
Adam.
“And there wasted his substance with riotous living.” From the hour of his
birth the natural man has never cherished a single feeling, exercised a single
thought, or performed a single deed that is acceptable to God. So far as
eternity is concerned he is spiritually barren: his life is fruitless. But not
only has he ignored the claims of God, not only has he neglected the things
of God, not only has he failed to love the Lord his God with all his heart,
but he has squandered his time, misused his talents, and lived entirely for
himself.
4. He encountered “a mighty famine.” (v. 14)
“And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that
land.” (v. 14)
“That land” is the “far country.” It is the world, that world which is away
from God, and which, in consequence, “lieth in the wicked one.” And in
that land there is “a mighty famine” all the while. It is to be noted,
however, that we are told “there arose a mighty famine in that land.” It was
not so there, always. The famine “arose” when man became separated from
God, i.e. at the Fall. The “famine” has reference to the fact that there is
nothing whatever in this world that can minister to man’s soul.
5. He “began to be in want.” (v. 14)
Here, in the history of a sinner who is saved eventually, is where hope
begins. There are many living in this “far country” today where there is “a
mighty famine” but, the tragic thing is, that they are unconscious of it.
They are satisfied with what they find here. They are sensible of no need
which this world fails to meet. It is only after God begins His work upon
the soul that the sinner discovers that everything here is only “vanity and
vexation of spirit.” Happy the one who has reached this point. Happy the
one who has begun “to be in want.” Happy the one who is conscious of an
aching void in his heart, of a yearning in his soul, of a need in his spirit,
which the things of this world and the pleasures of sin have failed to satisfy.
Such an one is “not far from the kingdom.” Nevertheless, the beginning to
be “in want” is but the initial experience. There are other experiences,
painful ones, to be passed through before the sinner actually comes to God..99
Let us follow further the history of “the prodigal son” which so accurately
traces the course pursued by each of us.
6. He “went and joined himself to a citizen of that country.” (v. 15)
How true to life! Notice he did not decide at once to return to his father—
that did not come until later. Instead of returning to the father, he turned to
man for relief, and went to work, for as we read, “he (the citizen of that
country) sent… him into his field to feed swine.” Does the Christian reader
need an interpreter here? Does not his own past experience supply the key
to the meaning of verse 15? The beginning to be “in want” finds its
counterpart in the first awakening of the soul, or to use other terms, it
corresponds to conviction of sin. And when a soul has been awakened,
when it has been convicted of sin, when it has been made conscious of a
“want” not yet supplied, what does such an one, invariably, do? Did you,
dear reader, turn at once to the Savior? Not if your experience was
anything like that of the writer and the vast majority of other Christians he
has talked with. If your experience corresponds in anywise with his and
theirs, after you were first awakened you began to attempt to work out a
righteousness of your own, you betook yourself to the work of
reformation, and to aid you in this you turned to man for counsel and help.
And unless the sovereign grace of God overruled it, instead of seeking help
from a real Christian who (if he had intelligence in the things of God)
would at once have urged you to “search the Scripture” to discover God’s
remedy, you turned to some professing Christian, who in reality was only a
“citizen of that country”—the world. And if you turned to such an one, he
did for you precisely what we read here in the parable—he sent you “to
feed swine.” Allowing scripture to interpret scripture, the “swine” here
represents professing Christians, who ultimately apostatize. (See

2
Peter 2:20-22.) The one to whom you went for advice told you that what
you needed to do was to “engage in Christian service.” “work for the
Lord,” “get busy in helping others”—and this while you were still dead in
trespasses and sins! Perhaps you were asked to teach a class of unsaved
children in the Sunday School, or to be an officer of a young people’s
society (the majority of whom were, probably, like yourself—unsaved),
and thus “feed the swine.”
7. He “came to himself.” (v. 17) :.100
“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the
swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to
himself, he said,” etc. (vv. 16, 17)
And again we say, How true to life! What did this joining of himself to a
citizen of that country, and this working in the field amount to? What relief
did it bring to his hungry soul? Just nothing. All there was for him there
were “the husks that the swine did eat.” And what did all your labors as an
awakened but unregenerate sinner amount to? What relief did they afford
your poor heart? None whatever. All your zeal and sacrifices in your so-called
“Christian service provided you with nothing but “husks,” the same
husks that the swine “did eat.” And how pathetic are the words that follow
next—“And no man gave unto him”! Ah! the need of the awakened sinner
lies deeper than any “man can reach unto. It is this lessen that the sinner
must next be taught. He must learn to turn away from man and look unto
Christ Himself. It is not until he does this that there will be any relief.
“And when he came to himself.” This means that he had recovered his
sanity, for previously he was “beside himself—out of his mind. The
Scriptures represent the sinner as suffering from spiritual insanity, and
regeneration as the bestowment of a right mind. In

Ephesians 4:17,18
the saints of God are exhorted to “walk not as other Gentiles walk in the
vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated
from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the
blindness of their heart.” Again, in Mark 5 we have in the demoniac a type
of the sinner in bondage to Satan, who, when delivered by our Lord, is
seen sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.” Finally, in

2 Timothy
1:7 the change which the new birth produces is described in the following
terms:
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of
love, and of a sound mind.”
Insanity is the lack of capacity to think correctly, and to form proper
estimates of ourselves and others. It is a suffering from various forms of
hallucination. An unmistakable evidence of insanity is, that the one whose
mind is deranged is quite ignorant of the fact, and supposes himself to be
all right. What is true in the natural realm has its counterpart in the
spiritual. The sinner’s understanding is darkened; his mind is full of strange
delusions; he is unable to arrive at correct conclusions; and what is the
saddest part of it all is, that he is totally unconscious of his spiritual disease..101
But when the Holy Spirit of God has worked upon a man, these
hallucinations are removed, the darkness is taken away from his
understanding and, like the “prodigal,” he “comes to himself.”
8. He said, “I will arise and go to my father.”(v. 18):
It is not until after the sinner has been made to feel “the mighty famine”
that exists in the far country, it is not until he has discovered that “no man”
can give unto him, and it is not until he has “come to himself,” that he
begins to reason aright and remind himself that in his father’s house there is
“bread enough and to spare.” And it is only then that he declares “I will
arise and go to my father,” which means, it is only then that the will begins
to move Godwards. And what is the next thing that we read? Why, that the
prodigal not only determines to arise and go to his father, but he announces
that he will “say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven and before
thee.” In other words, he is now willing to take the place of a lost sinner
before God. That is what repentance is.
9. He is still legalistic.
I will say,
“I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more
worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”
(

Luke 15:18,19)
Applying the language of this to the history of the sinner coming to God,
we here reach the point where, though the Holy Spirit has done much for
the awakened one—discovering his need, and enlightening his mind,
directing his will, and producing conviction—the work of grace is not yet
complete. The sinner is now deeply conscious of his own utter
unworthiness, but not yet has he learned of the marvelous grace of God
which more than meets his deep need. This comes out in the fact that the
highest conception that the mind of the returning “prodigal” rose to was
that of being made one of the “hired servants.” How legalistic the mind of
man is! How tenaciously he clings to his own performances! How
strenuously he will contend for the need of bringing in his own works! A
“hired servant” is one who has to work for all he gets.
10. He “arose and came to his father.” (v. 20).102
Blessed be His name, God does not cease His patient work within us until
this point has been reached. Dull of comprehension though we are, our
minds at enmity against Him, our wills essentially opposed to Him, He
graciously perseveres with us until our understandings have been
enlightened, our enmity has been removed, our wills so subdued that we
arise and come to Him.
And what was the reception the prodigal met with? Do you know what
portion was meted out to a “prodigal son” under the Law? Read with me
the following passage: “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which
will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that,
when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his
father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of
his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of
his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice;
he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him
with stones, that he die.” (

Deuteronomy 21:18-21) How then did the
father receive this “prodigal”? And this brings us to consider:
II. THE PRODIGAL’S RECEPTION
How many an exercised heart has wondered what sort of a reception he
would meet with if he came to God. Blessed it is to ponder the closing
portion of the third part of this matchless parable. In expounding the
significance of what is recorded of this “prodigal son” as he departed from
the “father,” we have seen portrayed the representative experiences of the
sinner. As we turn now to the happy sequel, we shall see that what
happened to him as he returned to the “father,” also pictures:
1. The Hearty Welcome He Received
“And he arose, and came to his father, But when he was yet a great
way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell
on his neck, and kissed him.” (v. 20)
How inexpressibly blessed this is! Five things (the number of grace) are
here predicated of “his father.”
First when he was yet a great way off his father “saw him.” And what does
this tell us? Why, that the father was looking out for him! The father was
eagerly waiting for him. And how keen are love’s eyes! Even while he was
yet a “great way off” his father saw him. But how solemnly this brings out.103
the distance in which by nature we were from God! Even after the sinner
has “come to himself,” and turned his back upon the “far country,” and has
set his face homewards, he is “yet a great way off”! Nevertheless, all praise
to His sovereign grace,
“But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made
nigh by the blood of Christ.” (

Ephesians 2:13)
Second, his father “had compassion.” The “prodigal must have presented a
miserable appearance: he had devoured his living with harlots (v. 30)—the
illicit love for the things of the world, instead of loving God with “all our
hearts”—he had suffered the effects of the “mighty famine” (v. 14), and he
had gone out into the fields to—“feed swine.” (v. 15) What a pitiable
object he must have been! Yet did his father have “compassion” on him!
And O dear Christian reader, how did you and I look just before the Father
received us? Understandings darkened, hearts desperately wicked, wills
rebellious, His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead
in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” (

Ephesians 2:4,5)
Third, his father “ran” to meet him: We do not read of the “prodigal”
running as he set out to return to his “father.” All that is said of him is that
“he arose, and came to his father.” But of the “father” it is said that he
“ran”! Do you know dear reader, that this is the only verse in all the Bible
which represents God has being in a hurry! In the restoration of the ruined
earth He acted orderly, we might say leisurely. In everything else but this,
God is viewed as acting with calmness and deliberation, as befits One who
has all eternity at His disposal. But here is what we term the impatience of
divine Love.
Fourth, his father “fell on his neck.” He not only “saw him” while a great
way off, he not only had “compassion” on this wee-begone prodigal, he not
only “ran” to meet him, but he “fell on his neck”: he embraced him: he
flung around him the welcoming arms of love.
Fifth, his father “kissed him.” Once more we would point out that nothing
is said here of the son kissing the father. It is the “father” who takes the
lead at every stage! He “kissed” him, not rebuffed him. He “kissed” him,
not bade him depart. He “kissed” him, not chided him for his wanderings.
What marvelous grace! How all this reveals the Father’s heart! The “kiss”
speaks of love, of reconciliation, of intimate relationship..104
2. The Prodigal’s Response
Notice now the “prodigal’s” response.
“And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven,
and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son”
(v. 21)
Notice three things. First, he is deeply conscious of his sinful condition,
and he hesitates not to confess it. And the nearer we approach the thrice
holy God the clearer shall we perceive our vileness. Second, he was
profoundly convinced of his unworthiness, and delayed not to own it. It is
a discovery of the marvelous grace of God which brings us to a deeper
realization of how thoroughly undeserving we are, for grace and merit are
as much opposed to each other as light and darkness. Third, observe that
he says nothing new about being made a “hired servant”! No; the
wondrous grace of the “father” had taught him better.
3. The Robe Which Was Put Upon Him
“But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and
put it on him.” (v. 22)
There are four things to be noted here.
First, the position the “son” yet occupied. We cannot but admire the
marvelous accuracy and beauty of every line in this divinely drawn picture.
The previous verses have shown us the happy meeting between the father
and the son, the father’s hearty welcome, the son’s broken-hearted
confession. And this, be it remembered, is viewed as occurring some
distance away from the father’s house, for he “ran” out to meet him. Now,
as the father and son draw near to the house, the father calls to his
servants, and says, “Bring forth the best robe.” Ah! the “father” could not
have the prodigal at his table in his filthy rags. No; that would be setting
aside the righteous requirements of His House: “Grace reigns through
righteousness” (

Romans 5:21), and never at the expense of it. Beautiful
it is, then, to behold grace which ran out to meet the “prodigal,” and now
the righteousness which makes provision for the covering of his filthy rags!
Second, We behold with thankful hearts the provision that is made for the
poor wanderer. Note it carefully that the prodigal did not bring his “robe”
with him out of the far country, nor did he procure it on his homeward.105
journey. No indeed; it was provided for him, was furnished by the father. It
was there ready for him, waiting for him!
Third, admire the quality of the clothing provided for him. Said the father,
“Bring forth the best robe.” What marvelous grace was this! The “best
robe” in the father’s house was reserved for the prodigal! And what can
this signify, but that the sinner saved by grace shall be robed in a garment
more glorious than that worn by the unfallen angels! But we exclaim, Can
such a thing be? Is that possible? And dear reads, what is this “best robe”?
Why it is the imputed righteousness of Christ Himself which shall cover the
filthy rags of our righteousness—that “imputed righteousness” which was
wrought out for us in the perfect obedience and vicarious death of our
Savior. Read with me

Isaiah 61:10:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my
God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has
covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
How remarkable it is to notice that this “best robe” was the first thing
which the “prodigal” received at the hands of his father! Right here is the
answer to the objection made by those who reject the evangelical
interpretation of this parable, for in the “best robe” we have that which
speaks of the life and death of Christ.
Fourth, notice that the “best robe” was placed upon him—
“Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him.” (v. 22)
Everything was done FOR him. Not only was the “best robe” provided for
him, it was also placed upon him. How this reminds us of what we read in

Genesis 3:21:
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of
skins, and clothed them.”
The Lord God not only Himself supplied the “coats of skins,” but He
“clothed” our first parents! We find the same thing again in

Zechariah
3:4—
“Take away the filthy garment from him. And unto him he said,
Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will
clothe thee with change of raiment.”.106
“Oh to grace how great a debtor”!
4. The Ring Placed Upon His Hand
“And put a ring on his hand.” (v. 22) Again we notice that the ring was not
supplied by him, but provided for him, And, too, it was not handed to him,
but put on him! Not a thing did he do for himself. And of what does the
“ring,” put “on his hand,” speak? The “ring” is the seal of love, of plighted
troth. Later it becomes the symbol of wedded union. And, is it not true that
the returning sinner receives not only the “best robe” of Christ’s imputed
righteousness, but also God’s seal, which “seal” is the Holy Spirit Himself:
“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our
hearts.” (

2 Corinthians 1:22)
Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Seal of God’s love, the evidence of a plighted
troth, for,
“grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the
day of redemption.” (

Ephesians 4:30)
And, again, it is the Holy Spirit who unites us to Christ: “But he that is
joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (

1 Corinthians 6:17) The “ring” also
speaks of ownership: the woman who wears my ring does so as a sign that
she is mine—my wife. So, too, the Holy Spirit in us tells that we belong to
Christ:
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”
(

Romans 8:9)
And once more, in Scripture the “ring” is given as a mark of high honor
and esteem:
“And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon
Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a
gold chain about his neck… and they cried before him, Bow the
knee.” (

Genesis 41:42,43)
This “ring” which the “father” gave to the “prodigal” was put on his hand.
Now the hand speaks of labor. As then the “ring” is here the emblem of the
Holy Spirit, does not this signify that henceforth, all our works should be
performed in the power of that same Spirit?
5. The Shoes Provided For His Feet.107
“And shoes on his feet.” (v. 22) Once more we are constrained to say,
How marvelously complete is this lovely parabolic picture. Here we see
every need of the believer met. The “kiss” of reconciliation to assure him of
a hearty welcome; the “best robe” to cover his filthy rags; the “ring” put on
his hand, to show that he belongs to God, and to denote that his labors
henceforth must be in the power of the Spirit. And now the “shoes” for his
“feet” speak of God’s provision for the daily walk.
In giving instructions to Moses concerning the observance of the Passover,
the Lord said,
“And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your
feet, and your staff in your hand.” (

Exodus 12:11)
They were not prepared to go forth on their pilgrimage until “shoes” were
on their feet. And how blessed is the sequel: forty years later Moses
reminded them, that though the Lord had led them for forty years in the
wilderness, “Your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not
waxen old upon thy foot”! So, again, when the Lord sent forth the twelve,
he said to them, “be shod with sandals.” (

Mark 6:9) And in Ephesians 6
where believers are exhorted to “put on the whole armor of God,” one of
the specifications is, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the
Gospel of peace.” Not until our feet are thus shed are we prepared to go
forth with the Gospel of God’s grace to a perishing world. It is exceedingly
blessed to contrast these two passages:
“Their feet (the wicked) run to evil, and they make haste to shed
innocent blood.” (

Isaiah 59:7);
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that
bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good
things of good, that publisheth salvation!” (

Isaiah 52:7)
6. The Fatted Calf killed and Eaten
“And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it: and let us eat, and be
merry.” (v. 23)
First, note the contrast between the words of the “father” in connection
with the “best robe,” and here with the “fatted calf.” In the former it was
“bring forth,” which indicated that the “prodigal” was on the outside. But.108
now that be has been clothed, now that he has had put on him the “best
robe,” now that he has been suitably adorned for the father’s presence
“Made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in
light” (

Colossians 1:12)
—he is now inside the “father’s” house, hence the “bring hither.” How
marvelously and minutely accurate!
The “fatted calf” speaks of Christ Himself in all His excellency, provided,
too, by the Father. The killing of the “calf” tells of the Savior’s death for
us, thus making it possible for sinners to be reconciled to a holy God. But
the “fatted calf” was not only killed, it was, like the Passover “lamb,” to be
eaten, and eating here speaks of communion. And observe the word of the
“father” here: it was not, and let him eat,” but “let us eat.” It is the Father
with the now reconciled sinner, coming together, and they communing
together over that which speaks of Christ. It is the sacrifice of Christ which
is the ground of our fellowship with the Father.
7. The Resultant Joy
“And let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive
again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.”
(vv. 23, 24)
How inexpressably blessed is this! What a glorious climax! Here is the
prodigal, now a son at the Father’s table, a place—not among the “hired
servants,” but—in the Father’s family is now His. Together they commune
over that which tells of Christ the perfect One, slain for us. And what is the
fruit of “communion”? Is it not joy, such merriment of heart of which this
poor world knows nothing. And note again the plural number: it is not only
that “he,” the son, was “merry,” but “they began to be merry.” The Father
finds His delight, together with His children, feeding upon Christ the Son.
It is indeed striking to contrast what is before us here in Luke 15 with
another scene presented in the Old Testament Scriptures. In 1 Samuel 28
we have brought before us the apostate Saul and the Witch of Endor—a
greater contrast could not be imagined! And here, too, we read of a fatted
calf being killed, but how great the difference!
“And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and
killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened.109
bread thereof: And she brought it before Saul, and before his
servants; and they did eat Then they rose up, and went away that
night.” (

1 Samuel 28:24,25)
Yes, they did “eat,” but notice that nothing was said of them being
“merry.” No indeed. They represented that large company found among
the professed people of God who take the name of Christ on their lips, and
even go through the form of communing with Him. as they come to Hi
“table.” But after all, it is only a pretense, a mechanical performance. Their
hearts are not in it. Their souls do not feed upon Christ.
And note, too, another striking contrast. Of Saul and his servants it is said,
“They did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that NIGHT.”
(

1 Samuel 28:25)
Ah! solemn thought, unspeakably solemn. The formal professor rises from
the “table,” and goes away—leaves that which speaks of Christ; goes away
as joyless and empty as he came; goes away into that dark “night” which
shall never end.
But how entirely different is what we read of concerning the reconciled
“prodigal!” He, together with his father, sits down to eat of the fatted calf
and “they began to be merry.” And there the picture leaves them! Nothing
is said about going “away,” still less is there any reference to the “night.”
And “they began to be merry,” and that merriment is only just begun.
Blessed be God, it shall know no ending. Together with the Father, finding
our joy in Christ we shall be “merry” forever and ever.
And now perhaps a closing word should be said upon the “elder son.” It
seems strange to us that so many have experienced difficulty here. Who is
represented by the “elder son”? Almost endless are the answers given.
Personally, we are satisfied that the elder son represents the same class as
do the ninety and nine sheep,” and the nine pieces of silver. These picture
the “Pharisees and scribes” who murmured against the Savior because He
received and ate with sinners. (v. 2) The one parable in three parts was
designed by Christ to show how that God did go after that which was lost
and what was the blessed portion which they received from Him. Then He
contrasts the lot of those who, because they deem themselves righteous,
refuse to take the place of sinners before Him. He meets them on the
ground of their own profession, and therefore does He speak of them as
“sheep” and the “elder son.” But oh, what a portion is theirs!.110
In the first part of the parable the self-righteous formalists who despise the
grace of God are represented as being left in the wilderness (see v. 4),
while in the last part of the parable he is seen outside the father’s house.
How accurate and yet how tragic is the picture Christ here draws of the
Pharisee. “Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew
nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the
servants, and asked what these things meant.” (vv. 25, 26) Ah! he is a
stranger to the merriment of those in fellowship with God. He knows not
why they should be so supremely happy, and therefore does he have to ask
“what these things meant.” And when explanation is made to him we are
told, “he was angry, and would not go in.” (v. 28) But more, “therefore
came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father,
In, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy
commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make
merry with my friends.” (vv. 28, 29) He speaks of “serving” his father for
this is all he knows. He boasts of his obedience, and then he confesses his
lack of that which speaks of communion. And how he betrayed himself
when he said, “Yet thou never gayest me a kid, that I might make merry
with my friends,” not “with thee”! The closing verses of the chapter must
be interpreted in the light of the whole context: “Thou art ever with me.”
Here Christ puts into the mouth of this elder son that which was the boast
of the proud Pharisee, but it should be carefully noted that throughout he is
carefully pictured as being on the outside, see especially verse 28.But let
our final word be upon the “prodigal.” By comparing carefully six clauses
it will be found they are arranged in couplets, and each couplet points a
striking contrast.
First, we read “There arose a mighty famine in the land” (v. 14): next
contrast what we read in verse 20, “And he arose, and came to his
father.”
Second, “He came to himself” (v. 17): now contrast what is said in
verse 20, he “Came to his father.”
Third, “He began to be in want” (v. 14): now contrast what we have in
verses 24, 25 “And they began to be merry.” And how striking is the
order of these.
Now dear reader, is this intelligible to you, or have I been speaking in an
unknown tongue? Have you felt the “famine” of this world? Have you been
“in want”—your soul crying out for a satisfying portion? Have you “come.111
to yourself,” come to your senses, and discovered the “exceeding
sinfulness of sin”? If so, have you come to God and taken the place of a
lost sinner before Him? Have you cast yourself upon His sovereign grace
and reckoned as your own this wondrous Provision He has made for hell-deserving
sinners? If you have, then you know the blessedness of belonging
to God’s family. If you have not, and will come to God now just as you
are, confessing your utter sinfulness and unworthiness, and casting yourself
on His free grace, you too shall receive a hearty welcome, the kiss of
reconciliation the robe of righteousness and a place in communion with
God Himself. “Come, for all things are now ready.”.112
VILE!
We are rather afraid that its title will deter some from reading this article:
we hope it will not be so. True, it does not treat of a popular theme, nay
one which is now very rarely heard in the pulpit; nevertheless, it is a
scriptural one. Fallen man is “vile,” so vile that it has been rightly said “he
is half brute, half devil.” Nor does such a description exceed the truth. Man
is “born like a wild ass’s colt” (

Job 11:12), and he is “taken captive by
the devil at his will” (

2 Timothy 2:26). Perhaps the reader is ready to
reply, Ah, that is man in his unregenerate state, but it is far otherwise with
the regenerate. From one viewpoint that is true; from another, it is not so.
Did not the Psalmist acknowledge,
“So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was a beast before Thee”
(

Psalm 73:22)
unteachable, untractable, kicking against God’s providential dealings, not
behaving like a man, much less like a saint! Again, did not Agu. confess,
“Surely I am more brutish than any man” (

Proverbs 30:2).
True, we never hear such lamentations as these from those who claim to
have received their “Pentecost” or “second blessing,” nor from those who
boast they are living “the victorious life.” But to those who are painfully
conscious of the “plague” of their own heart, such words may often
describe their case. Only recently we received a letter from a dear brother
in Christ, saying “the vanity and corruption that I find within, which refuses
to be kept in subjection, is so strong at times that it makes me cry out ‘my
wounds do stink and are corrupt.”’
Does the reader object against our appropriation of the Psalms and
Proverbs, and say, We in this New Testament age occupy much higher
ground than those did. Probably you have often been told so by men, but
are you sure of it from the Word of God? Listen, then, to the groan of an
eminent Christian:
“I am carnal, sold under sin” (

Romans 7:14)..113
Do you never feel thus, my reader? Then we are sincerely sorry for you. As
to the other part of the description of fallen man, “half devil”: did not
Christ say to regenerate Peter,
“Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offense unto Me”
(

Matthew 16:23)?
And are there not times when writer and reader fully merits the same
reproof? Speaking for myself, I bow my head with shame, and say, Alas
there is.
“Behold, I am vile” (

Job 40:4).
This was not said by Cain in a remorseful moment after his murder of Abel,
nor by Judas after he had betrayed the Saviour into the hands of His
enemies; instead, it was the utterance of one of whom God said,
“There is none like him in the earth, a perfect (sincere) and an
upright man, one that feareth God, and eseheweth evil”
(

Job 1:8).
Was Job’s language the effect of extreme melancholy, induced by his
terrible afflictions? If not, was he justified in using such strong language of
self-deprecation? If he was, are Christians today warranted in echoing the
same?
In order to arrive at the correct answer to the above questions, let us ask
another: when was it that Job said, “Behold, I am vile?” Was it when he
first received tidings of his heavy losses? No, for then he exclaimed,
“the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name
of the Lord” (

Job 1:21).
Was it when his friends reasoned with and reproved him? No, for then he
vindicated himself and boasted of his goodness. Then when was it that Job
declared “Behold, I am vile”? It was when the Lord appeared to him and
gave him a startling revelation of His own wondrous perfections! It was
when he stood in the all-penetrating light of God’s immaculate holiness and
was made to realize something of His mighty power.
Ah, when a soul is truly brought into the presence of the living God,
boasting ceases, our comeliness is turned into corruption (

Daniel 10:8),
and we cry, “Woe is me! for I am undone” (

Isaiah 6:5). When God.114
makes to the soul a personal revelation of His wondrous perfections, that
individual is effectually convinced of his own wretchedness. The more we
are given to discern the ineffable glory of the Lord, the more will our self-complacency
wither. It is in God’s light, and in that only, “we see light”
(

Psalm 36:9). When He shines into our understandings and hearts, and
brings to light “the hidden things of darkness,” we perceive the utter
corruption of our nature, and are abominable in our own eyes. While we
measure ourselves by our fellows, we shall, most likely, think more highly
of ourselves than we ought to think (

Romans 12:3); but when we
measure ourselves by the holy requirements of God’s nature, we cry “I am
dust and ashes” (

Genesis 18:27). True repentance changes a man’s
opinion of himself.
Is, then, a Christian today warranted in saying “Behold, I am vile”? Not as
faith views himself united to the One who is “altogether lovely”; but as
faith discerns, in the light of the Word, what he is by nature, what he is in
and of himself he may. Not that he is to hypocritically adopt such language
in order to gain the reputation of great humility; nay, such an utterance is
only to be found upon our lips as it is the feeling expression of our hearts:
particularly is it to be owned before God, when we come to Him in
contrition and in confession. Yet is it also to be acknowledged before the
saints, even as the apostle Paul cried publicly, “O wretched man that I am!”
(

Romans 7:24). It is part of our testimony to own (before those who
fear the Lord) what God has revealed to us.
“Behold; I am vile”: such is the candid and sorrowful confession of the
writer.
1.) I am vile in my imaginations: O what scum rises to the surface when
lusts boil within me. What filthy pictures are visioned in “the chambers of
my imagery” (

Ezekiel 8:12). What unlawful desires run riot within. Yes,
even when engaged in meditating upon the holy things of God, the mind
wanders and the fancy becomes engaged with what is foul and fetid. How
often does the writer have to acknowledge before God that “from the sole
of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness” in him, “but wounds
and bruises and putrefying sores” (

Isaiah 1:6). Nightly does he avail
himself of that Fountain which has been opened “for sin and for
uncleanness” (

Zechariah 13:1).
2.) I am vile in my self-will: How fretful am I when God blows upon my
plans and thwarts my desires. What surgings of rebellion within my wicked.115
breast when God’s providences displease. Instead of lying placidly as clay
in the Potter’s hand, how often do I act like the restive colt, which rears
and kicks, refusing to be held in with bit and bridle, determined to have my
own way. Alas, alas, how very little have I learned of Him who was “meek
and lowly in heart.” Instead of “the flesh” in me being purified, it has
putrefied; instead of its resistance to the spirit weakening, it appears to be
stronger each year. O that I had the wings of a dove, that I could fly away
from myself.
3.) I am vile in my religious pretenses: How often I am anxious to make “a
fair show in the flesh” and be thought highly of by others. What hypocrisies
have I been guilty of in seeking to gain a reputation for spirituality. How
frequently have I conveyed false impressions to others, making them
suppose it was far otherwise within me than was actually the case. What
pride and self-righteousness have swayed me. And of what insincerity have
I, at times, been guilty of in the pulpit: praying to the ears of the
congregation instead of to God, pretending to have liberty when my own
spirit was bound, speaking of those things which I had not first felt and
handled for myself. Much, very much cause has the writer to take the
leper’s place, cover his lips, and cry “Unclean, unclean!”
4.) I am vile in my unbelief: How often am I still filled with doubts and
misgivings. How often do I lean unto my own understanding instead of
upon the Lord. How often do I fail to expect from God (

Mark 11:24)
the things for which I ask Him. When the hour of testing comes, only too
frequently are past deliverances forgotten. When troubles assail, instead of
looking off unto the things unseen, I am occupied with the difficulties
before me. Instead of remembering that with God all things are possible, I
am ready to say,
“Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” (

Psalm 78:19).
True it is not always thus, for the Holy Spirit graciously keeps alive the
faith which He has placed within; but when He ceases to work, and a trial
is faced, how often do I give my Master occasion to say, “How is it that ye
have no faith?” (

Mark 4:40).
Reader, how closely does your experience correspond with the above? Is it
true that,
“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man”
(

Proverbs 27:19)?.116
Have we been describing some of the symptoms of your diseased heart?
Have you ever owned before God “Behold, I am vile”? Do you bear
witness to the humbling fact before your brethren and sisters in Christ? It is
comparatively easy to utter such words, but do you feel them? Does the
realization of this truth make you “blush” (

Ezra 9:6) and groan in
secret? Have you such a person and painful sense of your vileness that
often, you feel thoroughly unfit to draw nigh unto a holy God? If so:
1. You have abundant cause to be thankful to God that his Holy Spirit has
shown you something of your wretched self, that He has not kept you in
ignorance of your woeful state, that He has not left you in that gross
spiritual darkness that enshrouds millions of professing Christians. Ah my
stricken brother, if you are groaning over the ocean of corruption within,
an feel utterly unworthy to take the sacred name of Christ upon your
polluted lips, then you should be unfeignedly thankful that you belong not
to that great multitude of self-complacent and self-righteous religionists of
whom it is written,
“They were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore
shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation
they shall be cast down” (

Jeremiah 8:12).
Much cause have you to praise the God of all grace that He anointed your
sin-blinded eyes, and that now, in His sight, you are able to see a little of
your hideous deformities, and cry “I am black” (Song of Sol. 1:5).
2. You have abundant cause to walk softly before God. Must not the
realization of our vileness truly humble us before Him, make us smite upon
our breast, and cry “God be merciful to me, the sinner!” Yes, such a prayer
is as suited to the mature saint as it was when first convicted of his lost
estate, for he is to continue as he began:

Colossians 2:6,

Revelation
2:5. But alas, how quickly does the apprehension of our vileness leave us!
How frequently does pride again dominate us. For this reason we are
bidden to,
“Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit
whence ye are digged” (

Isaiah 51:1)
Beg God to daily show you your vileness that you may walk humbly before
Him..117
3. You have abundant cause to marvel at the surpassing love of the Triune
God towards you. That the Eternal Three should have set Their heart upon
such a wretch is indeed the wonder of all wonders. That God the Father
should foreknow and foresee every sin of which you would be guilty in
thought and word and deed, and yet have loved thee “with an everlasting
love” must indeed fill you with astonishment. That God the Son should
have laid aside the robes of His glory and be made in the likeness of sin’s
flesh, in order to redeem one so foul and filthy as me, was truly a love “that
passeth knowledge.” That God the Holy Spirit should take up His
residence and dwell in the heart of one so vile, only proves that where sin
abounded grace did much more abound. “Unto Him that loved us, and
washed us from our sins in His own blood; and hath made us kings and
priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion forever
and ever. Amen” (

Revelation 1:5, 6).

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