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to feed upon the wondrous manifestation which He has made of flimself
. In its highest sense, it is indeed "eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”
Yet, let me add, it is wonderful too, to see in what terms the Spirit of God, the true Psalmist, speaking by his people, hath set forth what God has done for us personally, in the riches of His grace. “He lifteth up," Hannah says (1 Sam. ii.), “the beggar from the dunghill
, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” How true this is every way; we, the beggars from the dunghill (may we keep it more before our eyes !) are indeed raised up with Christ, and shall indeed, according to His own promise, “sit down with Him in His throne.”
But to come now to this song of Moses. In sweet and blessed numbers truly is it introduced to us. “My doctrine shall distil as the dew; BECAUSE I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness to our God." Because; aye, that's what gives sweetness and power to His people's song. It is not singing about themselves, but Him-"He is the Rock; His work is perfect.” The great object of the song seems to be this; to vindicate God, to shew that His work is perfect, though in connection with an evil rebellious people, the people of His choice. “Are not My ways equal, are not your ways unequal, saith the Lord?” And with what strong shining does the character of God, and that of His people stand out here in contrast! Of God he says, “ All His
ways are judgment, etc.; but of His people, the first word we get is, “They have corrupted themselves.” They have corrupted themselves! And is that all about man? That's all, "He hath corrupted himself.” “They have turned aside quickly out of the way,” says the Lord (Ex. xxxii. 8), “they have corrupted themselves.” And is that true of the Church too! Yes. Men, blind as bats, talk of the succession in the Church: but how was it when Paul was permitted of God to take a look into the dark future of the Church? "I KNOW that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in” (Acts xx.) “Evil men and
“ seducers shall wax worse and worse. “In the last days perilous times shall come.”
None ought surely, so deeply to have learnt this lesson of man's corruption, inherent and proved, as we who stand in the close of our dispensation. It is an unvarying truth; and let me say, it is the most important lesson we can learn for our guidance and stability in every way,
. It is, indeed essential. Forget it, and we are gone, “Be not high-minded, but fear; thou standest by faith;" was written, on the very forehead of our dispensation. But truly recognised, while it opens out to us the abyss of iniquity into which the Church has fallen, yet does it open to us deeper joys; for they are not in circumstances, but in God.
He then begins the history—the unchanging truth, God's obligation and man's responsibility,"Is not he thy father," etc. He begins it from the beginning, where God began with them; as in Eph., for us to which part indeed this song is very similar). He begins with God's foreknowledge
His predestination for His people, He had been ever thinking of them, “For when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, He set the bounds of the peoples, according to the number of the children of Israel.” Just as I think we get in Eph. iii
. 9, that the Church was in God's view and deliberation, when he created all things by Jesus Christ, see also chap. i. ver. 11. How sweetly that “for” comes in (ver. 9)! it says to our faith (and why should not God think thus of His people?) " for the Lord's portion is His people: Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. So 'in Ephes. i., we have to learn what is
" “ the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Then do we get some of His dealings with this chosen
" He found him in a desert land," etc., where He found us too; but He delivered us out of it by the cross of Christ (Gal. i. 4). Then their education, “He led
, them about, He instructed him." Then what incomparable beauty in that description, “ As an eagle," etc. So it is with us; the Lord flutters over us, so to speak, when the child of grace is being born. With what care does He watch over our first starting forth; as I think that word tells us so beautifully (Hos. xi. 3), “ I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.” How does He teach us to fly! Many awkward attempts, perhaps, we may make, and come down; sometimes failing through
the weakness of the flesh; or having overflown ourselves through the strength of the flesh; but still the Lord leads onwards; He takes us on His own wings! Such, I have read, is the actual practice of these birds. Blessed position to be in! This is our security; He will teach us to fly! Thus do we indeed learn, waiting on the Lord, to mount up with wings as eagles. Joshua (chap. x. 24), after the capture of the five kings, called for Israel and their captains, to come near; the captains to put their feet upon the necks of the kings. Our Captain will have us associated with Him in His victorious strength.—“ The Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." For that is one condition that the Lord always makes when He is dealing with His people, that He alone shall have to do with them (Ps. lxxxi. 8), “O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me, there shall be no strange god in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god." We then find the rich place into which the Lord brought him.
" He made him ride on the high places of the earth; He gave him butter of kine,” etc. All these are the good things into which the Lord brought His people. And let me say, there are two great principles attached to the people of God in His word—the narrow door through which we enter; but then the boundless field into which we are introduced !
Rest first, and then blessing: so with Joseph. His two children he called, first Manasseh. “For God," said he, “ hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." Here was rest, and then comes blessing—Ephraim. “For God,” said he, “ hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction" (Gen. xli. 52).
So alsó 1st Corinthians, we get in chapter i. the narrow door, even the cross, by which we enter, leaving behind all our own wisdom, all our own righteousness. Then in chap. ii. we get the boundless field into which
are brought in the Spirit.—“ Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart
to conceive what good things God hath prepared for them that love Him." All scripture bears witness to this boundless place, into which we are brought, when once introduced in the love of Christ.
“ Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep, whereof every one bears twins, and none is barren amongst them” (Cant. iv. 2; Gen. xlix. 11). John xvi. 15, teaches us this as positive matter of doctrine. May we thirst and drink more deeply!
I will just notice, to maintain the parallel between Israel and the church, that as they were made to ride on the high places of the earth, feeding on butter of kine, etc.; so our essential standing is, “ blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.” And what are we called upon to do, but like them, “to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called” (Ephes. iv.)?
But then comes man's part in it. Though thus set of God, yet trusting in himself, forgetting that by faith he stood, he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. Yea, more than that, (for evil can never be merely negative) “ they provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they Him to anger." For when we forsake
.' the fountain of living waters, we are sure to hew out to ourselves broken cisterns that can contain no water. “ To gods that came newly up” (ver. 17). Aye, men may boast as they like of antiquity, antiquity in faith and worship; but when God and His word are departed from, it is but after all to gods newly come up" that men are turned. Antiquity and tradition, it should be noticed, will ever be on the side of evil, not of good; for, alas ! in man's history, good is the exception, but evil is the rule.
A simple reference to God's word carried the returning remnant of the captivity over the heads of all antiquity to the days of Joshua, the son of Nun (Neh. viii. 14-17), the first time when it could have been observed probably, as being a feast for the land. There were men of antiquity and tradition in the time of our Lord, "the true Witness." But what does He tell them? “IN VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. xv).
Then comes the Lord's visitation upon all this evil; for we know that He is a God who takes vengeance upon their inventions, though He forgives His people. And
what does all the midnight darkness of popery, darkness such as could be felt; what does all the distress of His people since; the distress of the truly awakened, because they are looking endlessly into an evil heart for peace, and racking their consciences for evidences there instead of looking to the finished work, the blood of Christ, that speaks peace,—what does all this, with all our present and necessary trials in the church, that have been and shall be, tell us, but that God has been chastening His church with its rod? They that observe lying vanities,”. says Jonah, when restored, “ forsake their own mercy." It is a pithy lesson but a deep one. Still God has been mindful of His people, and will be. He will surely honour them that honour Him; He does not forget (ver. 27) that they are His people, and that He has linked His name with them.
si The Lord will not,” says Samuel, in those blessed words of comfort (1 Sam. xii. 22) “forsake His people for His great name's sake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make you His people.”
• The Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when he seeth that their power is
gone, and there is none shut up and left.” So that our wisdom is clearly to acknowledge fully our ruin and helplessness, that we may have His power put forth for
How worthily does the song end ! Rejoice, 0 ye nations with His people.” We find, I believe, apostasy proved both in the nations (the Gentiles) and His people (ver. 32. and ver. 37), yet in the end both are called on to rejoice together. According to that word in Rom. xi. 33., “O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. He hath concluded them all in unbelief (or disobedience] that He might have MERCY upon all.” And it is blessed indeed to know, that through all the manifold painful history of man's evil, God will yet finally get glory to Himself, and will manifest Himself to the very uttermost worthy alone to be praised; God over all, blessed for evermore! He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee.” He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment. A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He.