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Jesus, because of the hard things which may be the lot of those that “walk with Him" (ver. 60, 65).
The history of the remnant brought back out of captivity to build the temple, amid so many difficulties, presents much instruction, on account of the similarity, in some respects, of their position and ours at the present time. To be in the city of their fathers, and to set up there as well as they could the worship of God, was doubtless great joy; but what a series of difficulties they met with in the execution of their design, though it was altogether according to the mind of God! What difficulties were raised on every side! and then how much chastening, how many merited reproofs, and how many years of famine! How many causes for discouragement had they here, especially if they took into consideration the prosperity and peace of those of their brethren who had remained in captivity! It was not far from this time that Esther and Mordecai were made the means of such marked deliverance to the captives of Media. While there was deliverance, feasting, and joy on the one hand, there was poverty, weakness, and misery on the other. It was therefore needful, in order to be able to hold their position in Judea, that those who were there should understand the will and purposes of God; for had any one only sought blessing, he would soon have been discouraged. Did not some few of them bitterly regret leaving Babylon, when they saw the wretched state of the remnant? And yet they were just in the position in which God would have them. The name and Spirit of the Lord were there; there also were His prophets, His worship, and His Word: none of these were to be found in Media-neither His worship, nor His presence, nor even the name of the Lord, is once mentioned in Esther.
Remember, also, the horrible language of the Jews in Egypt; showing, alas ! how Satan can blind the hearts of men when they only seek enjoyment, instead of the purpose and the will of God: As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to
burn incense unto the queen of heaven ...
as we have done .... in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil
. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine" (Jer. xliv. 16-18). Prosperity in this world was one of the blessings of the Jewish covenant; but this terrible example shows us, that in the present case it had become a false light, leading them to destruction.
In connection with “revivals” and “the effects produced by the Evangelical Alliance,” it has been asked, “Why is there so much blessing around, while there is none among those that walk with you?” 'I reply, that it is a mistake to suppose that there is none.
If God makes us partakers in what He counts the most precious blessing, I cannot say there is none. The pains He takes to humble us, and to lower us in our own eyes, is a most precious and incontrovertible proof of the interest He most graciously takes in us. His work is to strip us of ourselves, of self, which is the greatest obstacle to our blessing. It is bitter water to the flesh, doubtless; but it is invaluable. If we have risen very high in our own conceits, on account of some little light (and our foolish pride has already brought us much sorrow), what better could God do for us, than to deliver us from that which hindered us from being vessels of blessing? As a disordered stomach turns sour the most healthful food, so every blessing which, in such a state, we might have received from God, would have proved a temptation, and would have served but to nourish the flesh.
Now, He is bringing us down to a state of heart in which there are fewer obstacles to His blessing us; and how precious is this! Death is no longer an instrument of evil for our hurt in the hands of the devil; it is in the hand of Jesus, and He makes use of it (bitter as it may be) as a remedy, for our good. Therefore it would be a great mistake to say, “ We have no blessings.”
Neither let us forget the state of ruin into which the Church has fallen. We who preach this ruin are the
first to feel the misery of it. We are far from having gathered all God's children, or from possessing all the gifts. We are also (unconsciously, perhaps) enslaved by many a worldly custom and principle; and in the little that remains we are unfaithful. These and many other things suffice as the explanation of the much trial and wretchedness which is often so painfully felt.
Then as to those who are bewildered by such things as “revivals” and “alliances.” It is indeed beautiful when souls are really turned from darkness to light, and it is a great honour to be used of God for such a work; yet my object in separating myself from evil all around was neither evangelisation, nor the conversion of souls;
and yet we have had to praise Him for the conversion of many souls, which have been given to us in past times and even of late. O no! I have no reason to envy any; but it is well for us to humble ourselves under the nighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due season.
As to the assertion, that the conversions, awakenings, etc., which have taken place in national Churches, etc., prove that God authorises and approves of the system in the midst of which such things occur, I decidedly and entirely reject it. God blesses His own Word, and gives also a blessing to the faithfulness of the one who preaches it with sincerity, candour, and zeal; but He will show, sooner or later, that, while acting in the system, the system itself could not meet His approval. Did not the Lord show this in the apostles' days? How many blessings were shed on the Judæo-Christian Church at Jerusalem! “ Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are that believe" (Acts xxi. 20): and advantage could be taken of this to show that God approved that Judæo-Christian state of things—as also to wage war with those who did not link themselves with it, so as to slight the efforts of a Paul. But what was the fact of the case ? God was there to bless HIS WORD and His sincere labourers; but the system was judged soon after, when Titus came to destroy the city, burn the temple, and scatter that oppressed nation. God can act in the system as in a vessel, but not with the principles of the system; for He never gives efficacy to a bad thing.
(Signed) A. D.
[The writer of the above rejoices always when Christ is preached, and at every conversion by that name.
Speaking of union, he says elsewhere—“This word is loudly sounded forth now. The importance of union among Christians is in every one's mouth. But is the union
proposed real? . Is it the fruit of the means recognised in Scripture? Is its tendency the same? Many a uniting of Christians is union with the world, and tends to lead them back to multitudinism (i.e., union with the world), which is the negative of their having been separated from this present evil world. Such is but a snare of the enemy again to get into his possession that which had escaped from him; it is a snare of the enemy, and to be judged as such.”]
AN HONEST AND GOOD HEART. An honest and good heart is the heart that loves Christ.
That man has an honest and
good heart that finds Christ so precious that he would not give Him up for anything.
We may have to suffer for Christ's sake in this world; but no suffering can take away from us any of the blessings that we have
got in Him. We have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ; and neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
They that received the seed on the stony ground had not an honest and good heart, for they gaveup Christ in the time of persecution and affliction.
They that received the seed among thorns, had not an honest and good heart, for they tried to keep the love of money and of pleasure in their hearts together with the love of Christ; but this cannot be. The love of money and of pleasure will prevail over the love of Christ, if we try to keep them both in our hearts at the same time.
Neither money nor pleasure could get for us what Christ has got for us; and therefore they should never be allowed to have a place together in the same heart.
We could not by pleasure or moncy get pardon and life; but we have got them through Christ.
We could not by money or pleasure get a treasure in heaven, but we have got it through Christ.
He is the word which is the seed of life to us.
No man can have an honest and good heart who does not keep Christ in his heart as the word of life.
But if he keeps Him, then lie will bring forth fruit.
This fruit is brought forth with patience, because we have to bear His cross and to endure many things. - From the MSS. of T. T. Ed.
MARK XII. 1.-12.
In order to understand this parable, it will be well to consider first at what moment Jesus spake it, and to whom he addressed it.
He had made his solemn entrance into Jerusalem, with the shouts of “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."
On the morrow (ver. 12) he had pronounced sentence upon the barren fig-tree, and had cast out them that bought and sold in the temple, " saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Then on the third day," as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders, and say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men ? answer me. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell
you by what authority I do these things."
Thereupon it was, that “ he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard.”
The principal terms of this parable may, I think, be