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freshness of joy and bright confidence in God. The keeping up of this, amid all the wear and tear of the camp in the wilderness, and amid all the sorrows of the journey, etc., etc., was the mark of God's presence with His servants. As individuals, they waited on the Lord, and they were not made ashamed; they laboured in the harvest and gathered in ; they knew that they were of the church militant, and they endured hardness as the good soldiers of Jesus Christ; not discouraged, when faith was put to the test, by persecution or coldness all around; they were steadily bright, as to the hope of their Lord's return. As an individual, too, each one of them would have vindicated the Lord as to all the sorrows and trials of the way. As gold ore for the crucible, so faith for the furnace. They knew, too, the need of the trials for their own individual profiting. God uses the Sorrows of the way, as occasions for fresh displays of His own grace toward, and for the development of grace in, His servants.
His ways are all His own, and all are wonderful. In giving blessing, He gives it, not in such wise as to create independance of Him in the blest, but His blessing both supphes the vacuum which there was in nature, and creates new needs in grace. Thus, He formed a people: they are blessed in being so formed; blessed by separation from evil; blessed by the presence of Himself in blessing. But who can care for the Lord's people? Who can pretend to direct and govern the people of the living God? The formation of the people creates needs in grace. He has His own way in working, too.
He creates a little germ first; then uses them that are in it to gather in more. Next, He meets the needs which Himself has created. He shows His mode of governing them. He shows His mode of caring and providing for them. His tender consideration gives them time for settling in, when He has wrought and gathered in, that His people may be established in the faith. Then, perhaps, He lets trouble come, to put to proof the tone and temper of their faith, and to purify it; and then He brings a time of rich ingathering, recruiting afresh for His Name's sake.
He is the living God ; and, as such, He orders all things, and the order of them; ingathering; establishment; trial of faith by persecution and heresies, etc.; fresh ingathering. All this is seen in the Acts, and He and His ways have never changed since. He knows not the shadow of a turn; is the same yesterday, to-day, and
Now, forasmuch as we walk with God, the living God, and know Him and His ways, there may be, on our parts, a calm going along with Him in all these exercises; there need be no astonishment when He acts in one way or when He acts in the other. Each act is an act of God's, and all our times are in His hands. If we dwell in His secret, the sense of His presence will keep us from surprises, and also from attributing to ourselves, or one's own portion, in any of the Lord's work, that which would be throwing it and ourselves into CATED POSITION, apart from Himself and His wonted actings.
This secret presence of the living God-retreat where all the beauties and glories of the Lamb, past, present, or to come, are seen is the place where we should dwell; that there the teaching of the Holy Spirit, through the word, may be realised by us, and we be enabled to discern whence and whose are the sundry actings, which rise and surge around us.
ị cannot doubt that differences of judgment among Christians tell much more about the difference of state and position in which they are, individually, at the time of forming their judgments, than of any variety or uncertainty in the truth before them. For, in fact, truth judges us; and our judgments contain, at least, the colouring medium of our own state and condition, and they tell it out. For, instance, how differently does a pious member of the Greek Church ; a pious RomanCatholic; a pious Protestant (whatever be his creed ; and a simple, or a well-taught Christian, look upon the (so-called) Reformation. The thing they look at is one, and is past. The state, and condition, and position of each, leads to a different judgment upon it. A Protestant establishment, especially if connected with government, practically dispenses with the presence of God, as a living acting Person; even as much as it has, also, neutralized the keen edge of the written word, and the responsibility of man to be subject to it. The retrieval of the doctrine of justification by faith, will be its estimate of the benefits of the Reformation.
For a well-taught Christian's mind, would not the Reformation rather stand as the time when God showed Himself afresh as the living God, without whose presence and action His own written Standard of Truth (the Seriptures) was powerless among men, to be in blessing to them. The living God, the Justifier, is more than justification by faith. Take another instance:—The coming of the Lord, as thought of respectively in the apostles' days, by an ungodly Jew (as Saul of Tarsus); by a Gentile; by an apostle as Peter; or a Paul (blessed man!); by a babe, a young man, or a father in Christ; and, in the present day, by those to whom, amid surrounding darkness, the Lord has shown it afresh.
After thirteen hundred years (at least) of declension, on man's part, from the pristine blessing given at Pentecost, the Lord did begin (and that, also, according to one of His own ways, which were common to all the periods of his dealings with man on earth) to bestir Himself in vindication (not only of His own grace but) of his own being and existence, and also among the people who boasted of being His, but, like Israel of old, gloried in the things of the Lord, so far forth, and so far only, as they were distinctive honours to themselves. “The Sabbath, it distinguishes us from all the gentiles," was a thought which could go very well along with, yea, lead on to,-“Who is this fellow who talks of his Father working hitherto, and His working, and whose works are causing the fruits of Israel's sins to appear, that He may heal them? Away with such a maligner of us from the earth.” This was done repeatedly as to the Sabbath; and was not forgotten to be renewed as to the temple; the feast of tabernacles; the manna; the rock, etc., etc. That was a generation that sought to take credit to itself from what the Lord had wrought, had given. This cannot be done in the presence of a living God. For who will say to Him, when recognized as present: "Not unto Thee, O Lord, not unto Thee, but unto us be the glory.” Unbelief may so act outside of His presence; but in His presence there is light.
Has the Lord revealed Himself to us as the living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, sending down the Holy Ghost as the Guardian of His heavenly people in the wilderness? And have we not found that as He vindi. cated Himself in the days of Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, so now also hath He, from the days of the socalled) Reformation been vindicating Himself. Salvation, not work-wise as of man, but faith-wise, as of Christ; a finished salvation in Christ; forgiveness through His blood; righteousness inseparable from His own acceptance on high; Himself coming to fetch His heavenly people home to His Father's house; the table spread in the wilderness as their rallying point; the personal presence of the Holy Ghost; God, the Care-taker and Governor of the people in the wilderness; their Purger and Trier; the one that recruits and enlarges their bounds, etc., etc. All these things—and they are blessed truth—He, He has brought out afresh since the days of the so-called Reformation. They are best learned in the secret of his
presence, and the better part of them is not (I conceive) the bits of truth so taught, nor the acts by which He has brought them out afresh and home to us; but the vindication of the activity of His being and of His being for us, and the discovery thus made to us of His ways; and that the whole safety, conduct, and blessing of the flock turns upon the activity of the Shepherd, and upon His being duly owned and waited for.
I have then a place in which I get the Lord's judgment upon everything. The ways of the Lord give me light; but those ways, all pure as they are in themselves, are shown to me as one hidden in His Sanctuary; shown by His acting in a world of evil.
When I speak of evil here, I do not refer to the chaff which
have to be sifted out of the Lord's in-gathering, or of any man's infirmities and mistakes which may be connected with the Lord's workman, or of any false work of Satan added on the true; because so it was in the apostles' days, so it is now, and so it will be even unto the end.
But I refer rather to other things ; as 1st.-When a work is wrought in the days of an Ezra, a Nehemiah," amid failure, I should always expect God so to act, as to leave the record of its having been His work (not as in the opening days of an economy, when all was simple and fresh, but) as in the closing times, when man had dishonoured God, and He had to raise a testimony against man, even whilst giving blessing. And 2ndly.-In closing days, God always has 80 acted as to test and try man's discernment, by faith, of His presence, and has used the very presence of God to detect the evil and man's unbelief (see our Lord's days).
What I want is to abide with God in His workings, and actings, and restings, and to be intelligent and fresh in affection while there.
If He gave me a promise in spirit, that one-half of the countries of Europe should be visited by the Gospel, and then (after fourteen years of prayer and expectation on my part, in His presence) He sent out others to labour; or if He kept me waiting for five years for a backsliding soul and then restored it by another's preaching; if I have been in the sanctuary, and am there now; I have neither a less portion nor less faith in exercise, than they who have entered into my labours,
A word to three classes: 1st. To the disbeliever in all these revivals. Drop, if you please, the name of revival; and if you are a believer, tell me whether the Lord's ways have changed? Whether the Lord has ceased to send out into the highways and hedges, and at special times to show special power in gathering in souls? He did so through the history of the New Testament. He
• I have repeated several times “The (80-called) Reformation.” I object to the term “The Reformation,” as usually used. What is meant by it? A “ re-forming” of something? Of what ? I suspect " The Reformation” is a term which deceives many. I know what people mean when they speak of "Revivals,” and of men being “ Revivalists ;" but the terms are unscriptural, and will not bear scrutiny. Revival of what?