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THE CHRISTIAN LIFE-A DIALOGUE. in the present life as that God shall see nothing to
condemn." (Continued from page 233.)
Granting this, what are the limits to the re“Your incident is interesting and helpful; but ception of such a state as will answer our Lord's doubt and unbelief haunt me, much as I long to requirements ?” possess that purity of heart and power to please God
“ There are no limits to the power of God to give, which I see so much enjoined and spoken of in nor to His willingness; the limit is in ourselves. the Bible generally, but especially in the New A pure heart may, first of all, be defined as a heart Testament."
cleansed from all the idols which it is so prone to “In reply, let me first say what I have often cherish and retain—see Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27. This repeated, that the power promised is ministered as remarkable and much-quoted passage throws great we need it. The grace is in Christ (2 Tim. ii. 1), light on the subject we are speaking of. The beand if we are walking in fellowship with Him, He setting sin of Israel was idolatry; and to wean ministers to our need it arises. We want also to them from this was the object God had in view be fully persuaded that it is the Will of God to give in all His dealings with them. Whatever be the us that which He demands."
period to which this promise refers, it is full of “ You will say then, “Believe, and you will meaning to the Church of God in all ages; for the receive.”
New Testament warns us against our liability to “I do. But I go further. Believe that you have, idolatry as much as the Old.” and you will do. The order is instructive. 'Ye “The passage is often quoted by those who believe are a temple of God. The temple of God is holy, that the root of sin and uncleanness is removed which temple ye are' (1 Cor. iii. 16, 17). "Ye are altogether from the hearts of those who are fully holy,' God says. This is His first message to the consecrated to God, and are under the influence of true and loving believer. But He adds by the pen the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.” of Peter, Be yourselves holy in all manner of “Let us see whether we can gather its meaning living,' and then comes the promise, 'Ye shall be from the words here used by the prophet. A heart holy, for I am holy (1 Pet. i. 15, 16). This is of flesh is promised in exchange for a heart of stone God's order, ‘Ye are,' Be what I have reckoned (v. 26). This, although called a new heart, aniand constituted you to be. The enforcement both mated by a new spirit, is still a heart of flesh. Now of the promise and the command come with peculiar the flesh is never spoken of in the Bible except as force and sweetness after the title here given to us, weak, and having a tendency and liability to cor*Children of obedience' (1 Pet. i. 14, R.V.)” ruption; so that it surely cannot mean a heart so
"I see the order; but what am I to understand clean that God sees nothing in it that is deficient as by a ‘pure heart'? Our Lord puts it foremost in respects purity and holiness." His teaching at the commencement of His ministry, “I see your argument, and cannot deny its force ; • Blessed are the pure in heart' (Matt. v. 8).”
but does not this tend towards a leaning to the side “There are three root words which, with their of weakness, which you so often condemn ?” derivatives, are translated pure; they are
“No; for I put no limit to the power and will of translated by the words clean,' cleansed,' sincere,' God, and He demands of us that we look continually
clear,' and chaste.' The revised translators have to His side of the question. “Be of good courage ;' translated one of these words uniformly by ' sincere,
' ' Have not I commanded thee?' refer as much to this sincerity.' We may fairly consider, then, that as to all things that have to do with our life. As I clean' and 'pure' are convertible terms, and may have said before, “With the word of a king—the be used to describe the same thing."
King—there is power' (Ecc. viii. 4). And His “ This clears the ground somewhat; but the words of command are words of promise, also. Let difficulty lies in the use of so strong word to me believe that my heart can be cleansed from idols, describe a state of such varied conditions as that let me trust Christ to do it, and then believe, further, of the heart.”
that it is done. This is the faith, accompanied by “ It does ; but manifestly it cannot be intended perpetual watchfulness, which brings blessing all to convey the thought of such absolute purity here I along the line.”
“As you have referred to the New Testament “ What does St. Paul mean by the statement, teaching as respects idols, I recollect that Paul calls The end of the commandment is love, out of a covetousness idolatry (Col. iii. 5), and both Paul pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned'? and John utter the warnings, ‘Free from idolatry' (1 Tim. i. 5).” (1 Cor. x. 14). "Little children, keep yourselves
“ The mention of the three things here enjoined, from idols' (1 John v. 21)."
and their connection confirms, in my judgment, the “These and many other like passages tell us of view I have given. Love is the prominent and our weakness of heart in its best and purest state, distinguishing affection of the renewed heart. Purity and teach us that it is only when abiding in Christ is its hallowing fire, and a good conscience its safethat we can be kept from the evil of sinning guard. They may be intertwined into a threefold (1 John iii. 6, 9).”
cord, and if so it will not easily be broken.” “Before you go further will you let me know “One more question: What does the Apostle what you consider as 'the idols' which the heart mean by the use of the word, “mortify," especially is so apt to retain ?"
in that remarkable passage Col. iii. 5'?” They are many. The first is self. The name “Mortify means, as we all recognise, 'Put to is enough to strike terror to the heart. Who has death.' By many—perhaps the majority—it is gauged its depth, detected its subtlety, or wholly interpreted to mean, as often as these and other silenced its clamour ? It is no dumb idol; its din and corruptions arise, 'Put them to death.' The Greek noise, as well as its hateful and many-headed forms, word here used, however, is far stronger and has are odious to every one who is seeking to live the a much more definite meaning. The most careful Christ-life. Further, whatever object stands between and dependable readers of the text agree that it us and Christ is an idol ; whatever occupies the means mortify now--once for all—by a definite act heart which cannot be instantly submitted to His of faith, all these things. They no longer belong approval is an idol. “Who can tell how oft he to you.
• Reduce these members which are upon offendeth ?' was the cry of the man of God of old the earth to a state of death as regards their actions (Ps. xix. 12). 'I know nothing against myself, and desires—as here specified-vers. 5, 6. With
— yet am I not hereby justified” was the equally plain these you have no
Your members are disclaimer of all absolute purity of the most remark- now members of Christ, partakers of His Resurable man that ever lived (1 Cor. iv. 4).”
rection, renewed after His Image'-(Alford.) The "But, is there any distinction between a 'clean subject is unspeakably important. Ponder and pray heart' and a 'pure heart;' for I observe that the over it, and we will go into it again.”
. latter expression is most common in the New Testa
(To be continued.) ment?"
“Though they seem to be synonymous a distinction may be intended, from the circumstance that the New Testament was written after the Great Sacrifice It is related that on one occasion an eloquent had been offered on our behalf, and the claims upon African, a freedman, was declaiming against Southern ús for holinesss are now made very manifest. If so, slavery in a Northern city. But the iron had so a pure heart must be a heart freed from all unholy entered into his soul, and the prospect of emancipaand impure desires; not idols only, but evil desires.” |tion seemed so far off, as to make his address brimful
“But do not desires refer to thoughts, and how of despair. A negress was in the audience. She can we be free from these ?”
rose; stood silent; her tall, magnificent figure, “I give you two replies. (1) If Christ dwells in arrested all eyes; then, as the orator poured forth the heart (Eph. iii. 17), can He not keep it pure ? his hopeless lamentations, she stretched out her Are not His presence and the desire of evil incom- long arms, and, raising her head and voice, cried patible? (2) If we abide in Him, are we not at the out, “ Frederick Douglas, is God dead ?" It was fountain of all cleansing? It is then surely that we as the voice of a Hebrew prophetess, and brought experience the promise, “The blood of Jesus Christ back hope to the heart of the speaker. May such cleanseth from all sin,'—cleanseth and keepeth us a voice evermore be heard in the heart of all clean (1 John i. 7)."
doubters—whether as to God's love or God's power.
we deliberately place things before our opening eyes, BOUND THEREFORE FREE!
and between us and the God-given Object of our There are glorious paradoxes in the life of a vision. Little things, very little-if kept near child of the Eternal. The very life itself, springing enough the organ of sight-will do almost all that out of death, and manifesting itself through "dying,” | blindness would do, to keep us in the dark concerning is a paradox,--a picture, in one grand whole, of the unseen things of the Lord. that which every part of it is in detail. Such an Christ, turning to those who believed on Him, said,
" Paul the Aged” touches some of these “But ye see Me," "Unto you it is given to know lesser points, and traces them in clear outline before the mysteries of the kingdom.” Is this true of all of our view, and each almost is a paradox !
us believers ? Are we always and everywhere behold“As unknown, yet well known.”
ing, looking up into the face of our Lord and “ As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing."
Master, and knowing more and more of the mysteries “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
He will reveal by His Spirit ? When it is not so, The point where the several lines of most paradoxes God's paradoxes become to us also unmeaning realimeet is beyond the ken of human vision. The ties. For Jesus only is the solution of the high, deep centre towards which the opposing radii converge, thoughts of JEHOVAH; and seeing Jesus alone will and in which they are one, is further than the show us "great and mighty things” that we know wisdom of man can measure. “The world seeth not, and unveil "hidden things,” which our finite Me no more,” spake the Incarnate God, “but-ye power could never discover. see Me." The Invisible again becomes visible, and Just now, in this age, we stand on the threshold “ unspeakable words” that which may be under of the revealing of many of the paradoxes of God. stood. For "faith is the giving substance to things One, He opens out a little to this soul; and another hoped for, and the proving of things not seen.” a little more to that; or rather shall I say that He What to unregenerate man, and to the unspiritual is opening eyes that slept, and raising eyes that were man, is but an incomprehensible contradiction, and cast down, and above all sweeping away obstructions a stumbling-stone; to the man whose eyes are from the vision of believers ? So that which was in opened, to a child filled with the Spirit, is but two existence from all eternity, and made manifest in wondrous sides of one great truth being folded and this last time, in this closing of the dispensations, unfolded to him by his father, as he is able to bear it; they are beginning to behold, to see, to know; and a roll written within and without with writing. And the children of the King Immortal and Invisible are as this is true in the first instance, of the world and entering once more in some measure upon the the Church, so is it also true, in lesser degree, among possessions of their birthright. . those within the pale of real Christianity. Faith. And yet,--as yet the clearest vision beholds but is the vision by which we behold invisible realities; glimpses, the strongest faith grasps but tremblingly. and all the Church of Christ, in some measure, In the breaking of the dawn of God's great parapossesses faith; for it is by believing only that any doxes on the soul who dare speak? In the glimenter into life. Yet the power of vision must not merings of the day that is coming, who may say “I only be possessed, but exercised, to be of any avail; know?” yet we must testify that we have seen, and Christians in how many places are asleep?—the even though it be but “through a glass darkly," and eyes of their faith are fast closed. Thus, practically, strangely now “in part.” Just as a gleam of what they assume the place assigned by the Christ to it may be, a spark of the great glory that it is, “the world," and they “see" Him "no more; " and would I give a word on the paradox before us. For understanding not, they stumble at His word. Again, the "riddle" is still dark, but we know the "face faith must be exercised in the right direction; yet to face " revelation of the Hereafter follows in its how often, when the eyes are open, instead of train. looking upward, they are gazing upon the earth, too negligent to look higher and behold; therefore God's BOUND, THEREFORE FREE! Chained, therefore great mysteries become “as sounding brass and a unfettered ! Enslaved, therefore emancipated ! Notinkling cymbal” in their ears. Even worse than thing so wonderful after all. Perhaps not, if you this—worse than sleep, or sloth-how often will | place the first act in the past, and the next in the
" I love my
present. But make them co-existing- an impossi- laid helpless upon the altar, we shall never have our bility—yet true, and therefore a paradox. I am not own way any more at all; and how could we bear speaking of being “bound,” in any sense of bond-it ?-never anything that we like again. God never age, to our old master ; Satan, or sin, or self, or any said so; it is the enemy's lie to keep us out of the lord beside which may “ have had dominion over fullest blessing. The Father never planned thus to us," but only in the sense of being bound to God. crush the heart of His yielding child, And I think I have said before this, that our bond- though he who is a liar from the beginning may age or bond-service to the Lord rests not only on His have told you so. But He does demand this, the act of Redemption, though it does rest there, but also sacrifice of our will to His. He pleads that we will on that of His Emancipation of slaves. I mean, trust His love enough to let Him will for us. We when He bought us out from under our old tyrant- may give up all else, but while we withhold this, the master, He set us free; He did not buy us out to citadel of our being, we have not the liberty of cnslave us, but to make us a people of perfect free- slaves to the will of Jehovah. He does ask this—and dom ; yet at the same time, He bought us out at a surely He has a right to ask it--that we would have cost to Himself so tremendous of blood and treasure, confidence enough in Him to risk our happiness in that it is enough—were our hearts but sensible-- His Hands pierced for us.
It is not a question of to draw with “bands of love" every soul of man so losing this, or gaining the other, but of giving up redeemed into His service, and keep it there for our will about the things; then, dear Christian, ever. The Lord Jesus Christ will only have willing when the citadel is surrendered, it is as if the King service, and therefore will only possess free-slaves, could afford to give us back everything worth the slaves by their own choice ; The Year of Liberty giving, as if our submission had set Him free to comes first that we may be able to say,
bestow riches, honour, and glory; and from His Master .. . I will not go out free.” He set us free
He set us free royal Hand the yielded things return unto us, blessed that we might choose to be bound. Free, and as they never were before. They come as gifts therefore bound, if we will let it be so; bound, and straight from the Giver, and there are no “searchings therefore free, for it is bound to the will of Him, of heart” to mar their joy. It is true we get most who wills our fullest liberty,—and the more com- of our own way when that way is given up to God. pletely bound, the more utterly free.
And we receive most of our own will when it is a The instances in the Divine records of binding sacrifice bound to the will and blended into the for are but pictures of this binding to. Bound, it mighty purposes of the Lord. But how often our may be, for the cause of God, is as a type of the eyes are closed to this, and we do not “ see” what binding to the will of God. Joseph's bonds led to we are losing by this want of confidence in our his greater freedom. Again, it is illustrated for us in Father's heart! He would have us trust Him the story of the Children in Babylon—," three men enough to risk all—and then we find nothing has bound,” yet “loose ” in the midst of the fire. The been risked at all. When the “bound ” Isaac is Psalmist says: “I am Thy bond-slave,” yet in the laid upon the altar, and the knife raised, -an angel same breath he adds, “ Thou hast loosed my bonds.” voice intercepts the stroke : “Lay not thine hand Surely it is a deep, on the confines of which we are
upon the lad,
for now I knou--" He will but entering; but the Spirit, “who searcheth all prove our faith to the end, but " that trust in things, even the deep things of God,” will reveal Him shall be desolate," the desire of none that even this unto us, that we may “know the things “ account Him able” shall perish. We are not which are freely given us of God.”
straitened in Him, but we are straitened in our own God is the Lord which hath showed us light. “Bind selves. the sacrifice with cords unto the horns of the altar." We read the other day: "True, full, and implicit And every ray of light which reveals to us more of confidence in the goodness and perfection of God's the Father's will may be a fresh cord to bind us will, in its desirable and acceptable character, at more closely.
once checks your imaginations, reams, plans, and “Bind the sacrifice." Bound to the will of God wishes. Shrinking farther on from forming any means sacrifice, yet not sacrifice in the sense many desire about the course that your daily life and serpeople think. If we once yield to being bound and vice should take, you just stand before God to hear
Him speak, and to hear His decisions. You are jars, we say it does not fit close enough! It is also anxious not to interfere in any detail, conscious and true in our spiritual life, when our will is bound to sure that only His will brings life and happiness. I the will of God, there is no longer any jar. I am In that way, far from being a machine, you become only on the edge of this yet, and “thoughts" are still the freest leing in the Universe, living, growing up, to come. in the free, open air of Heaven.”
Bound to the will of Another. Does it not also In such a life there is no thought as to how, no give freedom in a very practical way? I mean as to desire as to when, no place as to where, beyond the doing things, or leaving them undone. In the will of the Lord. No chain of your own will upon matter of accepting invitations, or in the hundred you, you are free as air to do His; to be at His call, and one doubtful things about which, the question is and under His command for evermore. His will is continually raised, “Is it any harm ?” How it your will, and “as IIe always has His way, you would settle everything, were we to have the faith always have your way too, and reign with Him in a and courage to take our true place, and boldly say, I perpetual kingdom.” In the glory of such freedom belong to Another, I serve the Lord Christ, and He He means us to live, to serve, to rejoice. “ The does not allow it. From how many difficulties and Word of God is not bound," and the Word is just entanglements we should escape, were we to let the expressed Will of God. I remember getting ourselves be bound to the will of our Lord. We just a glimpse of it long ago : of the perfect peace should be free to serve, yet to be glad, with a joyous. it might be if our will were one with His will ; ness of freedom of which we know nothing while we but that such a dream were possible never entered are enchained in any sense by fear, or self, or the my thoughts. Yet such, and such only, is the life, world, or the devil. And to Christian workers, these which the Lord hath purposed for His own.
Per blessed “bonds" would bring a liberty of service, haps it dawns upon us more and more, I think it not otherwise to be attained in this age of rush and does. Even after our will is surrendered, our wishes hurry. When the press is great, and we would not for one thing or another, are still uncontrolled, dare say, “I cannot come,” yet we
can pass there is no question any longer about our taking on the Master's message, if it has reached to us, “I what we wish, we are submissive in the matter, but have not sent thee there." He will see to it that if we had a choice, we would like this or that; and there is no loss, either in the harvest field, or among I used to think, we should lose our identity, the labourers, through obedience to Him; and there
n our wishes bound.
Yet far off came a will be less fruitless service, for He will never send kind of glimmer, of a deeper blessing to be His servants where they have nothing to do, though had in union,-even of so small a thing as a the seed sown may only be reaped wish,—with the Master. The wishes were not days.” And, it may be, less often would He have “kept,” and I could not keep them. There was to lay His most faithful ones aside, were they bound unrest there, and yet a far off sense of the rest it to His will now, as of yore, calling them sometimes, would be, if they were kept. But I did not see how, "apart” to “rest awhile," and take counsel in comtill one day, someone said this, or to this effect, nuning with Himself. “Sometimes there are three stages of surrender, first the will, then the wishes, and lastly the thoughts ; St. Paul
says, “I am ready not only to be bound, and of each, there was to be a definite giving over to but also to die . . . for the name of the Lord the Lord.” I got my answer, just the old, old story, Jesus,” and we know he was put to the test a few definitely to give up to Him, and then stand still, days after, when they “went about to kill him.” and let Him do what one had been helplessly not Have we got as far as even to be ready to be bound ? doing oneself, and, of course, He did it. I do If we are we may be sure we shall be bound in very not think it loses us our identity. Just as before literal ways, and in the binding we shall find freedom. one would not will, so now one would not wish But are we ready ? Let us take heed not to do it without Him. It has brought us a little closer, lightly. For, if a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or that's all, and in Him we find our true selves again. swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond ; he shall In proportion as we lose our life, in anything we not break his word, he shall do according to all find it. How often when a window or anything that proceedeth out of his mouth " “ When thou
66 after many