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object of worship, in open opposition to the Most High God of heaven and Creator (Dan. xi. 36, 37; 2 Thess. ii. 4).
The witnesses for Jesus who will have to pass through the dark days of that mournful period, will feel the weight of the religious laws which, in order to attain his ends, this last great monarch of the Gentiles will promulgate (Rev. xi. 7; xiii. 15–17; xx. 4).
We ought not then, we Christians, either to desire or to seek the triumph of that which is called religious liberty and equality. From Abel downwards to the witness of the last days, the people of God cannot maintain their position in religion, save at the cost of suffering and by means of faith. They ought not either to expect, or to ask that the world should leave them at ease. It is not for them to avail themselves of any right, for they have absolutely none whatsoever upon the earth in its existing state, where their title and position is that of strangers; for their citizenship is elsewhere (1 Pet.ii. 11; Phil. iii. 20).
True is it that the hostility of the world with respect to them varies in its expression according to place, time, and their own measure of faithfulness as to them. At times there seem to be seasons in which the world's aversion is stayed, and the proscription, which it is in its nature to make, gives place to tolerance, to protection, and to favour. But the intelligence of faith is too wary to be deceived by these appearances. For faith is assured that the leopard will not change his skin, and knows that there is an eternal incompatibility, and a war unto extinction between the family which pertains to Christ and that of Belial. Moreover, faith attributes these hours of respite, which are a wonder, not to rights which the world will in future recognise, and upon which it may count for support in its progress, but solely to the hidden counsels and secret ways of the providence of Him whom she serves, and whose return she awaits.
In a word, faith never loses sight of the truth ; that it is not for her to fret herself about the laws for religion enacted by the nations, and that her voice is, on no account, even to be heard in the debates to which these laws may give rise among counsellors and politicians. Always in full possession of the true and sovereign freedom which is in Christ, faith acts under the legislation of Nebuchadnezzar as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; as did Daniel under that of Darius and his satraps; and as did Peter, John, and the whole company of disciples under that of the Sanhedrim (Dan. iii. vi.; Acts iv).
Such are the sure and infallible traditions which belong to us who are members of the body of Christ. God grant to us to follow them! God vouchsafe to us, even unto the end, to bear in mind that our liberty has nothing to do with the progress of liberalism and with the wisdom of the Gentiles, but that it is entirely subordinate to the cross, and that always and every where, our enjoyment of it results exclusively from the power of faitħ in Him in whom we are more than conquerors. (Signed)
ADRIAN BOISSIER. Note. It seems to have been ever the object of God, since Eden, to magnify His grace and to manifest His glory in a body taken out from among men, and which was to be as His living tabernacle. Several manifestations have been made in succession with this object in view. The working of Satan and the sin of man, always came across the plan of God, and placed in a state of ruin the body, which, for the time being, was the object of manifestation, and the body ceased to be the habitation of God, and became the camp, which He no longer owned; and from which, while waiting for the execution of the sentence tacitly passed upon it, those who have spiritual discernment were bound most carefully to keep themselves apart, morally and even externally. We may cite as examples, the human family as a whole, object of a call in Adam; the family fell in Cain, and Seth and his seed keep themselves apart. The family of Noah was another of these bodies, its fall was in Ham; Shem is separated therefrom. Next comes as a body the whole posterity of Shem: its fall was at Babel; Abrabam and his family have to separate themselves. Then we have as a body all Israel gathered out of Egypt; it takes its place in a state of ruin by the worship of the calf of gold; those who are moved by the Spirit of God are instructed to separate themselves, and to wend their steps towards the
tabernacle of congregation pitched outside of the camp, etc., etc.
Such is the outline of what passed in the first creation which is earthly. It seems to me that something analogous has shown itself in the new creation which is heavenly (the Church), whose head is Jesus, the second Adam. At first the Church is commensurate with Christianity; it forms a visible body full of divine life to the glory of Christ; soon the body falls, and the intelligent separate themselves from whatever is not purely Christian. The body Catholic-orthodox began to form itself; but as life was not therein either in sufficient purity or in sufficient abundance for it to be able to reject all false principles, and as the evil is perpetuated in it under a thousand various forms, this body is, from its beginning, a defiled camp, which a mass of intelligent individuals feel urged to come out of, because they will not tamper with evil. Nevertheless, the greater number of the children of God, little advanced in spiritual intelligence, or else withheld by that speciousness of the relentless war which this body-camp appears to wage with heresy, still remain in its bosom.—The evil ever goes on increasing. Yet a little while, and the truth will be altogether extinguished! Then is heard echoing around a mighty cry, " Come out of this pretended Catholicoorthodoxy, which is nought else than a salt which has lost
who attach value to the truth as it is in Jesus!" This cry of the angel of the Reformation is heard by them that have understanding to whom the Holy Spirit addresses it; they come out of the camp and towards the tabernacle of the congregation, surrounding the standard so manfully planted by Luther and his noble assistants. Some children of God, without doubt, still remain in the Romish Church, but they are there only in their individuality; the assembly of the children of God, His tabernacle, is no longer there.
f This expression is not to be thought to be an allusion to the Apocalypse, as if the Reformation of the sixteenth century was the subject of one of the visions of that book. I think contrari. wise, that none of the facts which have transpired in Christendom and the world in general, since the time of John are found in the prophetic part of the Revelation, and that that part is still altogether to be fulfilled.
In our days this tabernacle also ceases from its place in Protestantism. This also has in its turn, become a saltless salt, after having been for a while the body in which God proposed to glorify Himself
The evil, which in a certain measure was attached to it from its commencement, of which it knew not how to divest itself entirely, and in consequence of which a goodly number of the children of God are constantly forced to separate from it, though the majority of the faithful pursue its course (the evil I say), has developed itself more and more, and has produced fruits even most bitter. In this respect, things move now with such rapidity, that those of the saints who are most slow of apprehension cannot be long without seeing that it indeed is a camp where God no longer is, and to come out of which is the solemn call of the Spirit.
"He that hath an ear, let him ear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches” (Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 19; iii. 6, 13, 22).
He that believeth, hath the Son: grace and Christ cannot be separated.
“Honour me before the people,” was cold comfort to Saul, when the prophet told him God had rejected him.
Joseph's bowels were upon action, and busy, when his brethren saw no such thing, even when he was accusing them as spies, and dealing roughly with them.
“The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee, they were afraid ” (Psalm lxxvii. 16). So saith he “Winds, blow not; seas, rage not ; fire, burn not; lions, devour not; sun, move not ; clouds, rain not; devils, hurt not; waters, overwhelm not; sword, destroy not ;” and they all obey.
THERE is nothing more difficult to man than to be satisfied with God. Even a spiritually-minded Christian would find it hard to spend three days alone with God. What a void he would feel! what need of intercourse with others beside God! Brotherly intercourse is, indeed, good in its place; but the Lord would have us able to enjoy Him alone, and to lean on Him alone. To accomplish this, He permits us to find in our path many things that break the heart, and reveal the nothingness of all that is not Himself. He would have us satisfied with the thought, " Thou art with me” (ver. 4), instead of leaning on any one else. That which renders it so hard for us to be satisfied with God, is the weakness of our faith and the lusts of our hearts, which lead us to seek a thousand things beside God.
Jesus took, in His ineffable grace, that place before God which He would have us occupy before Himself. Therefore, though He is in reality the Shepherd (as we see Jno. x.), He became one of the flock, as we see Him in this psalm. He was willing to be our forerunner in the rough path we have to tread, and thus to know, experimentally, the difficulties of the way; and while in this rough path He could say, " I shall not want. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness." He could say this, in a terrific pathway as far as the flesh was concerned : in the path of humiliation unto death : because Jesus knew how to be satisfied with God alone. " THOU ART WITH ME." This it was which smoothed the path for him; a table was prepared for Him; GOD, AND GOD'S WILL, were, so to speak, that which was spread upon it, and which was His meat, unknown to the world; meat which was His delight and the restoring of His soul.