Page images

know what His will is. It is not that there are counsels of perfection, for the discernment of the inward life makes what it discerns at once a delight and a duty; and the perfection of Christ we are not very likely to get above. Yet, that is set before us as attainment; the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, our measure, our model, our rule, our strength, and our help in grace; the object of our delight, and our motive in walking, and one who has an absolute claim on our hearts.

I see, in reading this over, one thought wanting which may make a point more clear. We must not confound obedience and law. The character of Christ's obedience was different from legal obedience. When a child desires

a anything, as to go anywhere, and I forbid, and it at once obeys, I speak of its ready obedience.

Christ never obeyed in this way; He never had a desire checked by un imposed law. It was never needed to say to Him, Thou shalt not, when He willed to do anything. He acted because His Father willed it. That was His inotive, the only cause of His acting. He lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. When there was none, He had nothing to do. Hence the will of God, whatever it was, was His rule; obedience to sovereign will is not a limited law. There may be no revelation to us of particular duties; but such things are recorded in Scripture; and the readiness to do whatever God's will may be, is right; and spiritual discernment becomes a command. St. Paul was not to go into Mysia and Bithynia. He used also the xlix. of Isaiah, and called it a command when it applied. We may have none of the first as He had it, and much less of the discernment; but the principle of readiness to any will of God is right. Again, there is the active bringing forth of fruit to God which characterises Christianity in

contrast with the law. The fruits of the Spirit, the bringing forth fruits, and much fruit. Gal. v. 22, which is impossible to ascribe to law. Rom. vii.; John xv.; so Phil. i. 11, “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Surely these are not according to a rule of law.

I would just refer, with more preciseness, to Gal. ii. Its reasoning is this. If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor in destroying them. Now, I have left the law, argues the apostle, to come to Christ. If I set it up again, I was wrong in destroying it; but Christ led me to do it, and thus He has brought me into what is wrong. Thus, in setting up the law again, you make Christ a minister of sin. It is setting up the law again after Christ that the apostle has to combat everywhere. We have seen that it was not only justification which was in question. They had abandoned the law because it could not justify, but they had left it altogether.

And they were charged with Antinomianism. Thereupon, the apostle answers not by setting up the law in another shape again, but by declaring that there is a new nature, and walking according to this

a rule, Christ, looking to Him, and walking as He walked, and the Spirit, in following which they were not under law, but produced fruits, against which there was no law. Patience with sincere souls, who are under law, is all right. God only can deliver them; but clear scriptural truth is all important for the glorifying of Christ, even for their sakes who are under law.


Adam: innocent and blessed ; his creature-blessedness to continue so long as he owned the authority of God's Word and did not touch one tree :

Man : sinful in nature and in works—under a law which cursed every one that was not sinless :

And under Christ, who saves the lost through faith-becomes their life and everlasting blessing: Give us three very distinct and different positions and states

of man.





GENESIS xlviii. and xlix. introduce us to a scene of great moral beauty; every element of which tells us how divine is its order, depth and harmony. Not only does it present to us a comprehensive range of the counsels of God, in connexion with His earthly people; but it is invested with an additional interest, if we consider the one who declares these counsels, and the circumstances under which he declares them. It was a moment when life was ebbing fast, and earth receding from the view of the dying patriarch; he, whose previous course had not been bright, but whose end is here marked with all the brilliancy of a sunset-calm, blessed, and full of light and glory.

The history of Jacob had been eventful, chequered, and strongly-marked with crookedness; but he had, nevertheless, held fast the promises of God, and grounded his line of conduct thereon—though the means he had taken to reach them were, for the most part, carnal. He had passed from stage to stage in the divine school; Bethel, Peniel, and Beersheba had followed one another;the anguish of the loss of Joseph had been succeeded by his resurrection from the dead (as it were); and, from thence, a marked restoration is discernible in his soul. The light then waxed brighter and brighter, until such a flood of illumination envelopes his death-bed, that, in company with the mind of the Lord, his gaze, after first resting on the promised land, and then reviewing his own course, and taking his position from thence, stretches far out into future ages and dispensations, and rests not till

it has scanned the whole history of God's people, from the time of their redemption out of Egypt, till Christ shall appear as their Deliverer; in fact, it embraces the

; whole range of Jewish history, from Exodus to Rev. xix.

Let us review this wondrous scene in detail. It is divided into three parts: the oath, the reviewal, and the blessing, or rather prophecy. The first seems to have taken place shortly before his death (xlvii. 29); the last two are, properly, the death-bed scene, with which we have to do.

Israel is about to die: and, on the approach of Joseph, he strengthens himself and sits on the bel, in preparation for what was to follow; but, ere Israel (the prince with God) can declare God's mind, Jacob, the man in nature, must review his own individual course, and acknowledge God's faithfulness therein. Thus we read"God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz, in the land of Canaan, and blessed me.” This was the starting-point of his course.

Luz (signifying separation or departure), turned into Bethel (the house of God) by the Lord's manifestation to him, was where the Lord had met and blessed him. The scope of that blessing related to the earth: “Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee: and I will make of thee a multitude of people, and will give this land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting possession.” And, on the ground of this (dropping the narrative of his own history for a moment), he takes Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own; he declares that as Reuben and Simeon they shall be his, and then he defines their relative positions, and marks out their portion and inheritance in the earth. But, ere he proceeds, one epoch more in his own personal history is to be reviewed: one, indeed, which was the pivot on which all the rest turned; and which is introduced here on account of its moral connexion with the moment. He had been detailing the earthly future of his grandsons, mapping out their respective allotments, and, in the midst of it, his own position and experience seems to rise before him in contrast : as he turns for a moment from them, and

says, As for me." It was a contrast; for in these Israel, individually, had no part. He was passing away from the earth, after having undergone experiences which had blighted it to him, and he says: “As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Eplırath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath." How beautiful are those words “ As for me !What a tale they unfold, of a heart which has emerged from the crucible of suffering, which has been brought in spirit to the tomb, and has left there all most dear to its natural affections and instincts, but which is content to leave them there, and seeks no more for an outlet for them below. And how strikingly the manner and moment in which the dying Jacob utters this brief clause throws out into relief the contrast which we have noticed above. It is as if he said—“ You have hopes and interests here: but, as for me, mine were buried at Ephrath." In Rachel all his human affections and desires were centred; he had served seven years for her, and they “ seemed but a few days for the love he had for her." In every subsequent action of his life, whether at the “ brook Jabbok," or in his extreme fondness for her two sons, it is evident that she commanded his heart. She died, and his earthly hopes died with her. But what then? Almost in the same breath he adds, – " the same is Bethlehem"; the very spot which had entoinbed his earthly affections was that from whence He should arise, on whom all the promises were based; and who should be the hope and satisfaction of every renewed heart. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto ine, that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah v. 2; Psalm cxxxii, 6.) The royal seed--the hope of the nation did not spring from Rachel. Judah-the royal tribe-was Leah's offspring; but the place which enclosed the tomb of Rachel was the spot from whence that seed arose, and was preserved from generation to generation. Bethlehem was the birth-place of Jesse, who sprang from Ruth the Moabitess; and the blessing pronounced on Boaz, in Ruth iv. 11 (margin), is beautifully illustrative

« PreviousContinue »