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66 the mar
the ease, and glory, and power, and security of the world! ,
, “ Redemption"-alas! the world knows not the meaning of the word! And as to "the Lamb,” its whole peace hangs only on the abeyance of His claims !
While the main subject of this book is the presentation and enforcement of the claims of Christ to universal homage, and to universal power, as the suffering Lamb, there is that which gleams forth, as it were incidentally in the vindication of His glory. Far away from the scene of conflict, and before the Lamb comes forth sitting on the white horse,” as “ King of kings, and Lord of
56 lords, in righteousness to judge and to make war," there is seen in the peaceful courts of heaven, riage of the Lamb," and, it is added “ his wife hath made herself ready!” For his glory cannot be asserted, and another not be with him in the scene.
That " we may be glorified together," is the strange word of scripture!
The joy must begin on high, before the glory is displayed below. From heaven the Lamb comes forth to redeem the inheritance, and to take possession of His glory; and " when Christ who is our life shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory."
And how does this teach the heart of one who knows the espousal of the church to Christ, how little it has to do with all the busy aims of men; and how little reason it has to covet the world's wisdom, power, or glory, which are but the usurped rights of Christ; whileanother Lordand Prince is owned. It is not the earth in the power of redemption yet, and yielding its willing homage to the Lamb; but it is the world which made the Lamb a suffering Victim,
and still retains its opposition to His claims.
A FRAGMENT. “The unity of the body is so great a truth, and is connected collaterally with so many other truths of deep and vital moment, that we need not wonder (in a dav of so much ignorance of Scripture and worldliness as the present) if the Enemy should succeed in leading many to deny and pervert it. “A holy unity in the Spirit," and sn is, can be denied in more ways than one. Readiness of separation, may mark in some the self-will of the flesh, which can never apprehend either the holiness or the unity of the Church of God, or the Spirit's presence with the body. Worldliness in others may appreciate union, for according to the world's motto (and motto for the day) “Union is strength: " but the largeness of its tolerance will, before God, amount to unholiness; and the presence of the Spirit it must, surely, practically deny, for it sees Him not, nor knows Him. If Satan be more immediately at work, there will be a holiness according to the letter of Scripture, perhaps, admitted; but unity will be so put as to shut out grace, or truth, or the Holy Ghost. A basket of good fruit, however precious, is not the emblem by which the church's unity could be illustrated; but the branch-a fruit-bearing—is rather the picture. In vain will man essay to make that: God and God alone can do it.”
SOME THOUGHTS ON READING THE OPENING CHAPTERS OF THE ACTS OF
Might not this part of the Divine Testimony-The Acts of the Apostles—be called the Actings of the Holy Ghost? What interest this Book is clothed with as opening to us the dispensation or economy of the Lord the Spirit — which we may term the dispensation of resurrection in contrast with the dispensation of the flesh which preceded it. Man is wholly set aside as to any capacity or good thing in him. The name of Jesus, wonderful and mighty, and the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, are the absorbing themes. God is thus exalted, and becomes all in all. In fine, it may be said, that to the Saints
to the Church—the Divine Name (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost) is duly proclaimed; and the mysteries of the faith (now alas ! so lost or forgotten) are revealed. Our Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples of the operations of this blessed Spirit - the "other Comforter," as told to us in John's Gospel-and of further development of the Spirit's power and acting, which the few weak ones around Him could not then bear (John xvi. 12, 13), but which the day of Pentecost and its results made manifest. He had spoken to Nicodemus (John iii) of the regenerating power of the Spirit, connected even with Jewish or earthly things, in contrast with heavenly things (see ver. 12). He had declared to the poor Samaritan sinner at the well (iv. 10, 14), that He was the Giver of living water, which was to be, in those who received it, “a well of water springing up into everlasting life." But He revealed further and deeper truth, when He spoke by promise of a future thing connected with His glorification (vii. 37), “ If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the
Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Here we find not only the well springing up to refresh and cleanse, but further, its streams flowing out for the benefit of others; the Divine thought and arrangement evidently as to ministry during this dispensation, by the power of the Holy Ghost acting down here through the members of the body, witnessing to them, as He does, the resurrection, Lordship, and glory of Jesus, as the Head at the right hand of God. The Lord unfolded more still to the disciples, as we well know, in chapters xiv. to xvi. of this Gospel; and two points might be mentioned in passing on:-One (which, indeed, we are learning our need of), that blessed declaration and promise, that the other Comforter would“ abide with them for ever,” notwithstanding all the failure and ruin which, as in everything entrusted to man, shortly began. Compare Haggai ii. 5-a precious word spoken in that low state of Israel, “ According to the word that I covenanted with
ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not.” And let us heartily justify God, and say, “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; that Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and be clear when Thou judgest (Rom. iii. 4). The other truth, which may be alluded to is practical (compare John xvi. 7. 11. with Acts ii., 1st Cor. xii., Ephes, iv.). If it was expedient that Jesus should go away, that the Paraclete, the other Comforter, might come to form, and dwell personally in, the Church, and to in-dwell in each member of the body; and being there, to be the power to convince the world of sin, it is very manifest, that the objects of this amazing care and blessing, or believers in the Lord Jesus, ought to have a conscience void of offence. The Saints truly are responsible to walk in the Spirit, because they have got the Spirit; and to maintain a good conscience, as Paul insists upon, both for himself, and as exhorting and beseeching others.a
a Should the reader wish to follow this subject, he can consult, amongst many passages of Scripture, Acts xx. 17, etc.; xxiv. 16.; Rom. xii.; 1 Cor. is. 20—27.; 2 Cor. i. 12.; Ephes. iv. 1-3,; and chap. v,
In Acts i. we read the parting words of the Lord Jesus, before " a cloud received Him out of their sight.” It seems to be quite clear, that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, of which He spoke (ver. 5), “the power of the Holy Ghost ” coming upon them (see margin, ver. 8) was the descent of that Blessed Spirit on the day of Pentecost (chap. ii.) when the disciples were all“ filled with the Holy Ghost,” “the promise of the Father” (ver.33) as testified' by Peter, who now had understanding—the Church formed (though doubtless it was not till after Paul's conversion, the disciples fully knew Church-place, speciality, real standing and glory), and God Himself in the midst. From this, we have a gradual but wonderful development of truth, until it becomes wide and deep indeed; and bearing this mark—the largeness of God's heart and goodness. And this seen the more as contrasted here and there with man's narrow and contracted measure. After the descent of the Holy Ghost, with what energy does He testify by Peter (compare 1st Peter i. 12) when “three thousand being pricked to the heart, believed.” With what boldness does Peter (who before denied Christ, and forsook Him) now charge these blood-stained men with the murder of Jesus; the Lord, in His amazing grace, having directed that the first proffer of mercy should be made here; “ beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke xxiv. 47), and these three thousand having gladly received the good news, that there was remission of sins in His name, at once baptised, and introduced into the fellowship; and continue stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer. Chap. ii. shews us the testimony of the Holy Ghost to Israel yet to repent, with offers that Jesus would come for that Lord who delighteth in mercy, to whom judgment is “strange work,” who wept over Jerusalem “in the days of his flesh,” lingers as loth to leave the ancient people. But Israel, the wicked generation, resist the Holy Ghost; and consummate this resistance by stoning Stephen, the proto-martyr. Still many believed (iv. 4.) till about five thousand were inside; when Satan stirred up people, priests, (religion so called, being always the bitter enemy of Christ), and the Sadducees against them; and in this trial and per
secution, the power of the “name of thy holy child Jesus," and their faith in that name is manifested. The place was shaken where they prayed, and all, filled with the Holy Ghost, spake the word of God with boldness. “And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all” (ver.33). We see the Church standing for a time in corporate integrity; producing the blessed fruits of the Spirit, and obeying that word: “Ye are members one of another”(Ephes. iv.25). “By this shall all inen know that ye are my disciples, if
have love one to another" (John xiii. 35). But failure in measure sets in, in chap. V., where we find the manifested power and presence of God in the assembly, when He avenges, by judgment, the insult offered to His present Majesty. “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts v.4). Let it be remarked, in this place, that these truths of God are not altered by man's failure and folly. The unbelief of believers in Christ, does not impair truth a whit; and when the Holy Ghost does bring these things in His own vivid power to the consciences and hearts of saints --when He is pleased to work with energy in any little company of His own, there will always be the effects—surely something of them all we read of in chap. ii. 42–47,-even in this day of weakness, confusion, and failure; the family scene -the mutual care of the members—the pleasant fruit of love (loving with the powers of eternal life)—the fruits of the Spirit will surely appear. So likewise, when real faith is at work (not the quantity so much as the quality of faith) as to the presence of God -as to walking with, and serving the Living God, and waiting for His Son from Heaven; when there is true abiding in Jesus, and communion in and by Him--surely just in proportion will that word be reverenced: “Holiness becometh Thy house for ever.” The Church, or assembly of Saintsthe habitation of God by the Spirit — will be a place of discipline and godly care. Nothing would or could be allowed, no, not for an hour, in doctrine or walkmuch less in doctrine -- which would dishonor God, and lower the standard of His Truth. The name and glory of Jesus—the presence of the Spirit — the genius of the