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It is said at times, how evil a thing it is, to refuse any one who is a saint of God, a place in the assembly of God. But, I ask, Are the saints of God to be received in defiance of the command of God? If the Lord of Israel say, that a leprous Israelite is to be put outside the camp, is the congregation of Israel to say, we will bring him inside, because he is an Israelite and one of us? If the Lord of the present house say, that if any man will go to an idol temple and eat of the sacrifices there, such an one is not to pass the door of the house, is the assembly of the Lord to say, We will take him in, just because we judge him to be a saint, and one of us? Is the watchman at the door to be taught his duty by his Lord; and are the household to give him a dispensation to act in violation of it?
Indeed if the Lord has not spoken, let us be silent. If we are unable to verify and warrant an act, by scripture, we are unable to justify ourselves, or to enforce it on others. Surely indeed. But if God has spoken, and the commandment have enjoined an act, we have only to obey, though it be in the face of all. " Let God be true, but every man a liar.”
How can I draw others out of the world, if I am myself lagging behind in it? When in the spirit a man is active in following Jesus and serving Him ; and when the flesh is denied for this end, then the life gets filled up with the things of Christ, which are the element in which the new life finds its delight and joy; and, moreover, in which we find the Lord with us. Thus the conscience is kept sweet, and the heart happy. But when this is not the case, there is no power to resist the encroachments of that which defiles the conscience and enfeebles attachment to Christ. Thus, everything is gained and enjoyed in going forward, though it is death to the flesh.
THE MAINTENANCE OF THE TRUTH AS
THE maintenance of the full revealed truth is the only true testimony, or means of restoration in failure. This is the point which I propose to dwell on for a little; and the principle which I desire to authenticatc is this; that man knows nothing of God but from His own revelation of Himself; that, according as this revelation was enunciated, so was the servant of God bound to adhere to the terms of it, and that whenever he failed to inaintain those terms accurately, he so far failed to secare his own blessing, and still more, he thereby ignored his ability or title to declare the true God; for he was behind the revelation.
That the maintenance of the full revelation should be the grand and necessary means of restoration, is plain and fitting, so to speak, when we consider the nature of man's alienation from God. Having at the serpent's suggestion, believed a lie, and acted on it, he was deceived into an entire misapprehension of God. He did not deny God's existence, but he accepted from Satan a a false idea of Him: knowing His power, but distrusting His intentions towards man.
Hence, the natural mind is at enmity against God; there is really no knowledge of the true "God. The fall while it enlarged the human mind, did so at the expense of its previous knowledge of God, and it would have to be deprived of much of its present power of comprehension if it were possible for it to return of itself to a condition in which it could simply trust in God, in a word to a state of innocence, which is impossible, for we are born in another state of nature. The more the human mind VOL. XII.PT.I.
is exercised to attain a knowledge of the true God, the more is it made cognisant of its estrangement from Him, in the very state of its nature; for the very power which exercises it is owing to the act which corrupted it with respect to Him.
The greatest philosopher, after the most intense study, only produced a system, which, while it admitted man's need, declared that the true God was not apprehended. They attributed to the Supreme Being the best attributes which they found active in man's nature; but they did not discover, and could not, the nature of God in His love to man, because their own minds denied it.
GOD THEN MUST REVEAL HIMSELF. But this revelation is entirely outside the human mind it is not intuitive, and never could have been derived from it. Thus the voice of the Lord announces to Adam His true mind and interest for man, and Adam's restoration, peace, and blessing depended on his reception and maintenance of this revelation. True, he required a new mind (i.e. regeneration) in order to receive and retain it; but the more fully he maintained the scope and spirit of the revelation, the more he not only assured himself of restoration and blessing; but thus alone could he worthily testify of his Creator. Let him depart from an item in the revelation, and not only did he find to his cost that he lost blessing, but he failed to be a renovated witness for God on the earth. Eve, whom Adam had so called in the light of the revelation, departs from the express terms of that revelation-the only chart by which she could steer through the uncertainties by which the natural mind obstructs the course of the new man—and designates her first-born son as the promised man; and how much sorrow and humiliation does she engender for her family! The natural mind is not only ignorant of the revelation, but it cannot be trusted with the interpretation, of it. God's voice must pronounce the one, and God's Spirit must ensure the other. It is all outside man; though all accomplished in the human vessel, sensibly and intelligently. Thus, any variation from the revelation must be of the natural
mind, and must not only mar blessing, but deny the effect of it in the way of testimony to the true God.
If we see this so distinctly marked, with regard to the first revelation, how much more important shall we find it to be as the revelation enlarges and more fully unfolds to us the God from whom we have departed, and of whom we have presented so untrue an idea in His own world.
Let us trace this subject for a little through the scriptures.
In the close of Genesis viii. and ix., we find an additional revelation; the terms being that God will not agaia curse the ground for man's sake; that man is to have dominion over everything on earth, but nothing is to have dominion over man without adequate retribution. The bow in the cloud was the witness of the covenant. Had Noah and his descendants adhered to the terms of this revelation accurately, they would have ensured blessing for themselves, and have maintained a testimony for God in the now expurgated earth. But Noah fails. He is subjugated by the fruits of the earth; and his own son declares it; he falls a prey to what was appointed to be subservient to him. His position is thus forfeited, his testimony for God annulled, and a curse falls on his own child for an infraction of a subserviency which his lust had propagated: the revelation was not adhered to, and the tower of Babel was the matured fruit of the aberration from it. In such a state of things, the previous measure of revelation, however valuable, could not meet the exigency of the moment, or supply the testimony God wished to afford of Himself; therefore, in Genesis xii., a new revelation is communicated to Abram, as soon as he had entered on the path which God had called him to; even that of separation from his country and kindred, to be a witness for Him in a world where He was unknown. The terms of it describe the circle of Abram's blessing and testimony. God would make him a blessing, and gave him the land, although the Canaanite was still there. While he maintained these terms accurately, he continued a faithful and happy witness for God in Canaan, but when he lost sight of them and went into Egypt, he, for the time, forfeited the one and denied the other. And mark-his restoration is indicated by his return to the terms of the revelation," he came to the place of the altar which he had made there at the beginning.” By adhering to these, he was enabled to refuse the plains of Sodom, to be a successful helper to his deceived and worldly brother in his distress; in short, to be an honoured witness for God throughout his course. Melchizedek can crown with blessing the man walking in the light of the revelation. Lot, in forsaking it, remains unblessed; but Abraham, triumphant through the truth, devotes the tithes, the spolia opima, to the king of righteousness and the king of peace. How great was the blessing and testimony which the adherence, even by one, to the terms of God's revelation effected! The promise of Isaac was part of the revelation and the rite of circumcision connected with it. Abraham and Sarah must both avow this truth (Genesis xxi. 4-8), and then their joy and testimony are secured. And the adherence to this continues peremptory even after subsequent revelations; for these do not always confirm previous ones. If Moses in Midian disregard circumcision, the moment he takes the place of testimony he must repent of his negligence, and know the danger of his act. If Israel neglected in the wilderness, the first day in the land is devoted to their subinission to it. While it was possible to disregard a later revelation by confining themselves to a former one, the former could never be disregarded by strictly and distinctly maintaining the later; which is very important and naturally follows; because each revelation is only a larger unfolding to us of the true God of whom we are intuitively ignorant. Even as all revelations lead, in the aggregate, to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone declared the Father. But to continuem
Before Moses was able assuredly to undertake the responsibility of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, his soul was confirmed by a new revelation (Exodus vi.), “ And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him I am the Lord, and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known