1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
The disciples began now to be seriously troubled. They had for some time resisted the doleful tendency of Christ's communications to them during this most sad passover. Their conviction that the kingdom was nigh enabled them to bear up against it, but now they began to see that something of a really terrible nature was looming, and their hearts sank within them -- sank more than the facts warranted -- sank farther than Christ intended -- sank as if there was to be no rallying from the trouble -- as if the approaching success of the enemies of Christ meant the complete failure of Christ's Messiahship -- the complete extinction of all their hopes.
...Believing in God was matter of course with a Jew: believing in Jesus was not so, because he was a recent object of faith, and as yet but very imperfectly understood, besides being opposed by the recognised authorities of the nation. To believe in Christ was therefore a needful subject of exhortation, and it was what we might call a natural source of consolation.
Belief in God did not necessarily bring consolation: it might bring the reverse; for the whole history of Israel had shown Him the adversary of the nation because of their disobedience. The Jews were still disobedient, and therefore belief in God was calculated to inspire fear. But belief in the Messiah was a source of hope and comfort, because the Messiah's mission was to
"make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.The Father's house referred to is his kingdom in which are many places for the faithful. He has been engaged in the work of preparation for eighteen centuries past. He will remain there until he has reconciled all to the Father "who are of the truth," and for whom he prepares the kingdom.
This work accomplished, the Russo-Assyrian Confederacy matured, and its armies encamped in Palestine, He comes again, and "receives" his brethren to himself from among the dead; that where he is then, they may be also: that is, in the kingdom restored again to Israel.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1856.
His present absence and his present work are necessary to the glorious consummation of "his appearing and his kingdom." He is not idle or passive though unseen. He is at work in the preparation of his people. His messages to the seven ecclesias in Asia represent him as watchfuI and vigilant in the superintendence of the affairs of his house. His priesthood involves this; for mediation between God and men requires that he should know the affairs of men.
Paul tells us that having suffered, being tempted, he (Jesus) is able to succour them that are tempted. This indicates the active superintendence referred to. He is still the shepherd of his sheep. From behind the vail, he tends them invisibly, but not the less really.
"As many as I love," he says, I rebuke and chasten " (Rev. iii. 19).
This is also what Paul says:
"When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. xi. 32).
It follows that, even now, we are under his guidance if we sincerely aim at the doing of his will, and that in the affairs of our common experience, his hand intervenes for that direction of our steps which will be to our profit. What if those affairs are chequered and trying? What if trouble harass and evil afflict? Shall we say he regards us not? This would be a very illogical as well as a very unhappy conclusion.
He himself has come through a time of trouble; he was, in the days of his flesh, a man of afflicted experience. Shall we say that God did not guide him because he suffered? Yea, rather his suffering was an evidence of his being guided.
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered."
It is God's method of perfecting character and laying the foundation of lasting joy. We may be quite sure there is no mistake in it. We may be quite sure that God's way is the best. We may be quite sure that goodness will be all the sweeter and salvation all the more precious, and glory to God all the more fervent for the prelude of suffering and weariness and waiting that goes before.
We know from experience that no one is ripe till he has known trouble. He may be good, but he is unsympathetic. He may be interesting, but he is not entirely disinterested. There is always a degree of refined selfishness (and sometimes not very refined) about those who have known only pleasure. Trouble, if there be the right stuff to work on, removes the dross of the character, subdues and purifies and refines and ennobles, and makes fit for the kingdom of God.
Bro Roberts - Refreshment
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also
...referring to his departure from the earth, he said to his apostles and disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again". Some seventy years after this declaration, the ETERNAL FATHER, who had bestowed upon him universal power, revealed to him the scheme of its progressive development whereby the "place" promised should be "prepared". This scheme is THE APOCALYPSE (ch. 1:1), the developments of which, till the Holy of Holies comes again, are all manifestations of Divine power through "the Powers that be".
The supervisor, director and developer of this power is the Lord Jesus Christ, "he that liveth and was dead, and is living for the Aions of the Aions" - and is therefore now "the Lord the Spirit". He stirred up Alaric, Attila, Genseric, and Odoacer; and girded them for their mission against the earth, the sea, the rivers, and fountains of waters, and the sun, moon, and stars, of the western Roman Catholic world. He caused the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman dominion, to pass from the degenerate Greeks to the more vigorous, and less superstitious and blasphemous, Ottomans.
He raised his witnesses from political death, and placed them in the heaven, where they demolished the Bourbon kingdom; and, as the earnest of what is coming upon a grander scale, abolished the superstition and dominion of the Papacy in France. Having punished the royal family, nobility, priests and people of France by the Terrorists, for putting his witnesses to death, he commenced the outpouring of the Seven Golden Vials of Divine wrath. He girded the French with power to give the worshippers of the beast "blood to drink," to "scorch them with fire", and to fill the Papal Kingdom with darkness; and so manifest was this, that the first Napoleon could say, "the hand of God leads my armies".
None could successfully withstand them till their mission was accomplished. While they were in full career upon the Continent of Europe, he made the British power invincible upon the sea; so that "it became as the blood of a corpse". All these things did the Lord Jesus Christ by his subordinate powers; so that, upon the principle that what one doth by his agents he doth by himself, he being the Most Holy or Nave, the Seven Angels or Spirits went forth from him "to pour out the vials of the wrath of Deity upon the earth". This they continue to do through "the powers that be," until the time arrives for him to reap in person; and to visit all the powers with a retribution that shall abolish them from the earth.
His personal executive intervention changes the situation. The powers that be, instead of being executors of wrath upon one another in their wars, are all equally exposed to judgment by a new and Divine power marvellously set up in their midst. The Nave will then have been transferred from the heavens in which it has long been concealed from human ken, to Mount Zion, where it appears as the "Perfect Man," having attained to "the measure of the Angel" (ch. 21:17; Eph. 4:13).
Henceforth, the Seven Spirits go forth with this Man who has been clothed and girded goldenly by them. His voice is then as the sound of many waters, his eyes as a flame of fire, and his feet like brass glowing in a furnace. Such is the almighty power that Smokes with indignation unappeasable, to the end of the "thousand six hundred furlongs;" which marks the end of the Seven-Vial period and of the "great and marvellous sign in the heaven".
When the indignation ceases in the annihilation of the temporal and spiritual "powers that be," and in the submission of the peoples and languages, and nations to Christ and his Brethren, the Seven Angels will have accomplished their mission; and the smoke from the glory and power of the Deity will cease to ascend. The tormenting exercise of power by the Holy Angels and the Lamb will no longer maintain the combustion of the fiery lake; and the tumult of the world will subside into the undisturbed tranquillity of the Aions of the Aions-the Day of Christ, in which the place prepared will be inherited by the "blessed".
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
"THE WAY OF THE TREE OF LIFE."
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it."
Religion is not coeval with the formation of man, neither had it any existence during his novitiate. Though it was instituted in the paradise, it was not for his observance there; for while he continued the sinless tenant of the garden, he stood in no need of the healing consolations it affords. Until he ate of the forbidden fruit, there was no breach of friendship, no misunderstanding, no alienation, between him and the Lord God; there needed not, therefore, any means, or system of means, for the reconciliation, of estranged parties.
But, as soon as the good understanding was interrupted by disobedience to the Eden law, sentence of condemnation to the dust was pronounced upon the offenders, and means were instituted to put them at one again with the Lord, that He might bring them back from the ground, no longer naked and ashamed of their condition, but clothed with glory and
honour, incorruptibility and life, as a crown of righteousness that should never fade away.
These instituted means made up the way of life, which Moses terms "God's way." (Gen. 6:12). David styles it "the path of Iife" (Psalm 16:11), which the apostle in quoting renders "the ways of life" (Acts 2:28), that is, the way leading to life in which a man must walk now, and the way into the kingdom from the house of death.
In the beginning God's way was styled "the way of the tree of life," which, in the passage where it occurs, must be taken literally, and then allegorically. In its literal sense, it was the path leading to the Tree in the midst of the garden; but allegorically, it signified the things to be believed and practised by those who desired to live for ever. To believe and do, is to walk in "the way which leadeth unto life," because immortality will be a part of the recompense of reward for so doing.
Until the crucifixion, the way was marked out, first, by the patriarchal arrangement of things, and secondly, by the Mosaic law, all of which pointed to the Shiloh. But, when Jesus appeared, He announced, saying, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh to the Father, but by me" .
He became the Way, by His sacrificial death and resurrection.
Whosoever would attain to life must believe the truth concerning Jesus, and the kingdom, which is the most holy place. Hence, it is written, "we have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a New and Living Way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the Veil, that is to say, His flesh" (Heb. 10:19-20).
Elpis Israel 1.5.
...the Father-Spirit said, I am the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life. He affirms this of Himself. The truth in a man by faith, is Christ in him. When the man dies the truth and its personal developments remain with the Father, while the man, as flesh, is
"a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again".
But, though it cometh not again, the truth in its particular personal identity, whether called by the name Paul, or any other name, does come again. The Father being the resurrection as well as the truth, reproduces from Himself the personally developed truth, named Paul in a former state.
He re-produces it in a newly created body. In view of the statement affirmed by John the Baptizer, it is immaterial whether that body be made of the dust to which Paul is reduced, or of some other crude matter; for, if of stones the Deity can raise up children to Abraham (Matt. 3:9) He can as easy reproduce Paul from one kind of material as another.
... Paul and the 144,000... Every individual is a rising the reproduction of a former character in a new body; the character, and not the body, constituting the personal identity. The body is of the earth, the writing upon it, from heaven. In the finishing of this, the body is transfigured in the twinkling of an eye; and from an earthy body, it is changed into the likeness of the Quickening Spirit, by which the redemption celebrated in the song is made complete.
Here is the acquisition of knowledge in the same way as the apostles acquired the power, or faculty, of setting forth the wonderful works of Deity in languages they knew nothing about. It will be a Pentecostian display of omnipotence - 144,000 "first fruits unto the Deity and the Lamb" newly created from the dust, singing the song of their redemption from the earth.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Of such a man as the disciples as yet imagined him to be, they never could have been affirmable. Such a man he was not, but the veiled manifestation of the Father Himself.
...They had known him in a superficial way, but not in his real relation to the God of their fathers -- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew that he was Christ in the traditional sense of the Jewish expectation, without knowing what this truly involved. Had they known him in his reality, they would have discerned the presence of God in their midst.
For many generations, the Scriptures had revealed to them that the Creator not only dwelt in "heaven his dwelling place" at inconceivable distance from the earth, but filled all space by His Spirit, as a unit of diffused presence and power, so that He could say:
"Do not I fill heaven and earth?"
Their history had familiarised them with the idea of this, the One Omnipresent God of their fathers, manifesting Himself by concentration at a point or in a person, as when He spoke in the prophets or worked by an angel. It ought not, therefore, to have been difficult for them to receive the idea of the Father connecting Himself with the seed of David, and dwelling among men in the person of a Son. But the things of the Spirit are high, and subtle and great, and it is a while before the weak human mind rises to them.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52
Mere-Manism in Britain
"Mere-manism" has no foothold among the professors of the truth in Britain. There are a few (a very few) who would not object to the phrase "mere man," as applied to Christ; but even these believe more of the truth than the acknowledgment of such a phrase would seem to imply.
Yet their use or sanction of such a phrase creates a barrier to co-operation on the part of those who desire to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus, as
"God manifest in the flesh, and (now) justified in the Spirit."
This cannot be better illustrated than in the following extracts from letters we recently had occasion to write, in connection with a proposal to lecture in this connection:
"The responsibility of the present inaction in the place is not with me, but with the maintainers of a false declaration concerning Christ, with which I dare not identify myself. That it is used in its 'strict,' and not in its colloquial sense, does not soften the difficulty. The 'strict sense' of the phrase is just the sense excluded by the testimony.
How could we conceive of a man, merely, purely, and simply, setting himself up as the imperative object of our affections, saying
'If any man love father and mother more than me, he is not worthy of me?' &c.
How could we conceive of a man merely, purely, and simply, demanding the same honour that we give to the Father? saying that all men are to honour the Son, even as they honour the Father? How could we conceive of a mere man saying, in answer to the question
'Shew us the Father,' 'have I been so long with you, and have ye not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.'
How could it be affirmed of a mere man that he is the Word made flesh, and that he came down from heaven? How could we conceive of a mere man receiving the praises of the redeemed, conjointly with the Father, in the day of their glory, saying
'Blessing, and honour, and glory, and riches, and wisdom, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb!'
How could we conceive of a mere man having the angels in subjection to him (1 Peter 3:22), to whom we are to be but equal in the resurrection? How could a mere man say 'I am the First and the Last, he that liveth and was dead'—'Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending; who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty?' How could it be said of a mere man that he is God manifest in the flesh? The 'strict sense' and every other sense of mere-manship, is excluded by the testimony concerning the Lord Jesus.
As a manifestation of the Father, in human nature, by the Spirit, he is our Lord and our God, as confessed by Thomas, whatever may be our difficulty in comprehending it. Paul styles it a great mystery, to which we may add from his writings as well as our own perceptions, that it is a glorious one, the obscuration of which by a false form of words, I cannot accept the responsibility of being a party to. Christ was a man, but not a mere man; for he was God with us, which a mere man never was."
The Christadelphian, April 1873
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
This indwelling oneness, revealed in the New Testament Scriptures, is part of that "mystery" contained in the Name of the Old. The Spirit of Yahweh, through the prophet Isaiah, tells of it, in a certain formula of the Memorial.
"Thus saith Yahweh, king of Israel, and his redeemer, He who will be of hosts, I, the first One, and I, the last One; and without me no Elohim" (Isa. 44:6). (Eureka),
The testimony of the apostle Paul is in perfect harmony with that of the Lord Jesus, teaching the same doctrine of unity and oneness. He saith: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). "He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).
This manifestation and oneness, the Scriptures teach, came by means of the Holy Spirit. "This is the word of Yahweh unto Zerubbabel, saying: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
Yahweh Elohim Ch 4 by Sis Lasius
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
...Jesus knew the weakness and the willingness of the disciples, and he was patient...
"believe me for the very works' sake"
(i.e., if the Father be not in me, how do you account for the works which you have seen me perform?).
Strengthening the argument with a view to their conviction, he spoke of their own coming participation in the power he had manifested -- predicable, however, on their recognition of his relation to the Father...
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Christ's departure to the Father would give him greater power of imparting gift than he could possess while in the fixed groove of his work in the flesh. If he remained with them, it would not be in his power to do for them what he could do if he went to the Father. It was therefore "expedient for them" (as he afterwards told them), that he should go away. He should then be able to do for them "whatsoever they should ask in his name."
To apply this statement to any experience of which a man may be subject now, is a great mistake. There is only one rule to work by in our day;
"To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them," (Isaiah 8:20.)
The Christadelphian, April 1870
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
...while with them, he was in the feeble nature common to them all, with power limited to his mission in the flesh, while, after death, resurrection and ascension, he would be harmonised and assimilated and absorbed, as we might say, in the Father-power of the universe, and have "all power in heaven and earth," as he said.
Referring to that time, he says...
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
To ask anything in his name, is not only to ask it for his sake, in that union with his name which the reception of the truth imparts, but with eye and heart fully open to him in the invocation. Hence love and obedience would be the conditions-precedent of his attention to such petitions which he indicates in the words immediately added -- otherwise apparently without connection...
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
...that is, the Comforter would not depart as he (Jesus) was about to do -- "even the Spirit of truth " -- not the disposition of truthfulness, but the spirit itself, which is the root of all fact and truth -- the fountain of all power and reality -- as contra-distinguished from the impotencies and imaginations of human wisdom
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52
a. Forbids all manner of oaths (Matt. v, 34; James v, 12).
b. Prohibits the taking of the sword (Matt. xxvi, 52; Rev. xiii, 10).
c. Condemns retaliation and rough speech, and all evil speaking (Matt. v, 44; 1 Pet. iii, 9; Rom. xii, 14).
d. Insists on peace-making and personal private communication with the offended with this view (Matt. v, 24: xviii, 15; Col. iii, 13)
e. Commands kindness to even the undeserving and the evil (Matt. v, 44; Luke vi, 35).
f. Allows marriage with believers only (1 Cor. vii, 39).
g. Enjoins modesty of dress and deportment even to shamefacedness and sobriety (1 Tim. ii, 9; 1 Pet. iii, 34).
It is notorious that Christendom habitually violates all these commandments, without the violation of them being supposed to unchristianise the violators in the least degree, although Christ has plainly declared that it is vain for men to call him Lord who do not obey his commandments.
Oaths are regularly administered in public courts (not to speak of the profanities of private intercourse).
The military profession is cultivated as a fitting sphere for the Christian sons of Christian men. The countenance of the "church "is extended to the army in the appointment of chaplains, involving this fearful anomaly that when two so-called Christian nations go to war, Christians on one side cut the throats of Christians on the other side, as a perfectly legitimate business, and Christian "chaplains"on one side pray to the God of all Christians so considered, to prosper the deadly measures of one set of Christians against the prayer of Christian chaplains and the deadly efforts of another set of Christians, that the latter set may strew the field of strife with their corpses while the others march victoriously over their dead bodies, singing Te Deums to God for enabling them to butcher their Christian brethren!
Retaliation is both preached and practised among the masses of Christendom as the right and the noble and manly thing to do; and arrogant and resentful speech is excused on the score of necessity, while speaking evil and gloating on the frailties of your neighbours, is the daintiest luxury of common life.
Peace-loving and peace-making are looked upon as signs of effeminacy, and the man who should advocate and practice the duty of seeking a private interview with an enemy, with a view to reconciliation, would be regarded as a demented nuisance.
Kindness to the evil is almost unheard of. Ingratitude and unworthiness are invariably seized on as a reason for not helping anyone in distress. It is the rule to consider yourself justified in withholding help in such a case. It is only excellence (and that too, carried to the heroic point) that propitiates the grace of Christendom in favour of private distress.
The idea of restricting matrimony to discipleship is scouted as the prejudice of fanaticism.
And as for dress, so far is Christendom astray from the apostolic standard that the mass of so-called Christian women (especially in the upper walks of society), consider it an honourable thing to enter into mutual rivalry in the style and magnificence of their attire. "Fashion" is a goddess whose sway is undisputed. No one owns to be a worshipper, but everyone acts the part of one. Ambition, the love of display, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are not acknowledged as the ruling motives, though there is scarcely another at work. All is justified on the score of "taste."
This state of things is grievous to every mind in sympathy with divine aims in human life, as revealed in the Scriptures. There is no alternative but to fight the prevailing corruption. It is for earnest men, in private practice and in public inculcation, so far as there may be opportunity, to uphold the ideal exhibited in the apostolic writings. By no other course can we save ourselves from a generation which is as "untoward" as the one that listened to a similar exhortation from Peter. The fight may be hard, but the objects are supreme.
Christendom Astray L18
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
The baptism of the Spirit, then, is peculiar to certain seasons or epochs, and not common to all times from the first to the second advent. These epochs are,
1. The apostolic age;
2. The resurrection era.
Between these two periods is a long interval occupied by "the times of the Gentiles," during which the Laodicean Apostasy prevails to the almost entire suppression of "the faith." These constitute a Dry Time—a time of drought, in which spirit is withheld. In all this long series of ages and generations there are no gifts and no other baptism than that of water. The gifts answered their purpose, and then ceased; and nothing remained but "faith, hope, and love," the product of the word read and studied by the honest and good-hearted.
Baptism of spirit was for confirmation of the word preached by the apostles; and for the perfecting of the saints who were to do public service. It was only promised to genuine believers, and they only received it; though afterwards some, turning out to be like Demas, betrayed their trust, and misused it.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1861
... if they were to be his witnesses in the sense of declaring what they had been personally cognisant of, why was it necessary that they should "wait" a certain time before beginning their work?...
The object of their testimony was to create conviction with reference to the things testified. Now, had they presented this testimony in the form of their own personal knowledge merely, it is certain that their labour would have been unsuccessful.
The things they had to testify were so extraordinary that the people could not have believed from them on the mere assertions of any number of witnesses. The apostles were to be qualified to give an effective testimony by the witness that God should give to their witness, in the "miracles, wonders and signs," which they should be enabled to work. This is what Jesus had said:
"When the comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, he shall testify of me, and ye also shall bear witness Because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26).
Bro Roberts - God also bearing them witness
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The disciples were promised the holy spirit - an advocate to help them preach the true gospel in all its elements
Now, mark this-Jesus, nor any other Scripture authority, ever promised the Holy Spirit, or its powers, to any persons who did not believe on him in believing the gospel of the Kingdom he preached. Hence, whatever spirit it may be that spiritists rejoice in, it is not the Holy Spirit of God; but some other, it may be of Beelzebub, or some other representative of evil; but beyond all doubt or question, it is not of God. He gives not his Holy Spirit to the unholy, faithless, and disobedient, to play tricks with in moving tables, &c.; or to confirm the theological fooleries... or to endorse the scholastic divinities in the miraculous soul-dealings which preöccupy the minds of professors to the exclusion of the word.
I have no controversy with Spiritists about their "facts;" what I reject in toto is their explanation of them. I have done several wonderful things myself, and seen more remarkable ones performed by others. As far as my experiments have gone, the phenomena have all resulted from the energy of my own will operating on the brains and nervous systems acted upon. Without speaking or looking at the man, I have compelled actions that he could not successfully resist; and which appeared wonderful to all who beheld them.
Now, had I been a religious knave, I might have played off Simon Magus before the company, giving out that I was "the great power of God," having a prophet-mission to the world! I might have declared that these wonders were proofs of my divine character, and have set up for as great an ambassador of Heaven as any of the clergy, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Pope himself! Had I concealed from the subject my operation on his system, and had he been fanatically inclined, he might have attributed the influence he felt to the Spirit of God dealing with his soul; especially if I had willed religious impressions upon his sensorium instead of the secular commonplaces I did.
This explains to my mind the origin of "religious experiences;" such, all such, I mean, as do not result from searching the Scriptures for the truth. People in families and societies mesmerize one another unconsciously. Their brains and nervous systems are acted upon by the ideas willed, evolving and expressed, among them. The preaching, praying, talking, and silent wishings of some concerning others, create a halo of influences, which invests the community in its family and associational relations, like a fog.
Individuals are pervaded by it as by the atmosphere-an atmosphere of spirituality, as it were. If the preaching, and so forth, be the vain imaginations of brain sinflesh, as it is with so few exceptions that we may say it is universally, the spiritual atmosphere is infectious, and generative of fanatical experiences, wildfire excitements, "awakenings," "miraculous dealings of God with souls," witchcraftry, ecstasies, dreams, prophesyings, visions, "spirits," and a thousand other things detailed in the annals of fanatical religionism.
And it may be noted, that where the Scriptures are least accurately understood, these nervous-system manifestations most prevail. No man who is not enlightened in the gospel of the Kingdom is safe from the influence of this sectarian mesmerism. All who are seized with it, not being able to account for it upon any principles known to them, call it miraculous, or the operation of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing, however, miraculous in it, or holy.
It is the natural result of the operation of the flesh-spirit of the community upon it own members. It begins in the flesh and ends in the flesh, and always leaves its victims in disobedience, (for joining a church is not obeying the gospel,) and as ignorant of the Bible, and vastly more self-conceited, than when it originally demonized them.
"Speaking with tongues" is no proof of the existence of "the spirits," nor is the faculty necessarily a fulfilment of the promise of Jesus. I have heard an illiterate girl sing French and Italian songs who five seconds before and the instant after the singing knew not a word in either tongue. It was done by first mesmerizing her, and then placing her en rapport with an educated lady who could perform. By this process the nervosity of the two became as one-as it were, mesmeric Siamese twins. Their two brains were a closed circle, the lady who played the guitar and sang being the positive brain-pole from which the will-influence passed to the negative brain-pole of the girl, causing her unconsciously to sing with tongues.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Here is a point that it is not possible to emphasise too strongly. However unpopular the doctrine may be,-however much men may fail in acting on the principle, it remains the same truth that will confront us at last when life's feverish struggle is in the past for ever-that the standard of our acceptance with Christ in the day of His appearing will be the obedience of His commandments.
We may overlook this in the theoretical contentions forced upon us by the modern exigencies of the truth. We may even in some cases be tempted to profanely make light of the commandments of Christ, either as an impossible rule of action, or as one that in our curious blindness we may say no man acts up to, but the fact remains the same.
God has given no authority since Christ's ascension to relax any of those commandments given for general obedience.
The Christadelphian, Apr 1886
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us
The Word, which is God, and by which all things have been made, becoming flesh, has given us a man "full of grace and truth"- a man in whom blend the sublimity of the infinite, the beauty of the perfect, the interest of the advantageous, and the felicity of the strong and lovely-yea also, the solution of history, the secret of futurity, and the remedy of the world.
Science is poor by his side, for he holds in his hand the power whose multiform products science can but register and classify in man's puny style.
History apart from him is high-banked accumulation of cloud and fog, lurid with distant conflagration; futurity, an impenetrable night; destiny a frightful abyss; the universe, a suicide-engendering enigma.
In Christ is peace. He combines all that the heart can desire or the intellect aspire to. He is a friend and a head, and at the same time, the incorporation of the Eternal and the universal. Sublime and glorious combination! He gives bosom to the aching heart and pillow to the tired head. They are no empty words that he uttered, though they have been deprived of all meaning by the vapid sentimentality with which they are usually associated, when he said
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"
-rest now, from the burden of human futility-rest supernal in the issue to which he is leading human life upon the earth.
Being such, ought we not to listen, with fervent submission, to his voice? He says,
"Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am."
If he be Master what are we? His servants whose part it is to obey his word - with understanding, with implicitness, with thoroughness. This is reasonable. It is what he commands. It is what human masters exact, do you think Christ will be satisfied with less? On this Christ has spoken plainly, and it is for us, in calling him to remembrance, to remember what he has said. He says,
"Call me not Lord, Lord if ye do not the things that I say."
"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."
Seasons 2: 37
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Why is this manifestation so guarded? -- why not open and indiscriminate so that all the world could see and believe? So the sceptic asks; so Judas (not Iscariot), asked, but not in the spirit of scepticism:
"Lord, how is that thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not to the world?"
Jesus answers in a way requiring search for his meaning:
"If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings, and the word which ye hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."
These facts, thus stated abstractly, supply the reason why there was to be no manifestation to the world. In brief, they were not fit for it. As Jesus had before said,
"They have both seen and hated both me and my Father."
There can be no divine condescensions in a personal form in the absence of loving obedience. This was entirely absent from the world referred to. They neither received Christ nor kept his word; and how was it possible there could be any further manifestation towards them, seeing the words they had rejected were not those of Christ the man considered in himself, but of God who had made all things?
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
The love of Christ constraineth us
Let us rise to this, brethren. We shall be of no use to Christ if we do not love him. He finds pleasure in his people's love as a man finds pleasure in a woman's love. He says we are unworthy of him if we give a stronger love to any human object. He gives us a method by which we may judge ourselves in the matter as to whether we love him. He says-
"If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23).
Here is a self-test which we should daily apply. We cannot apply it without making ourselves familiar with his "words," for how can a man keep his "words" who is either ignorant or forgetful of them. Reflection will show us that this test is an absolutely reasonable one. Love always conforms to the will and wishes of its object. See if it is not so. If the love of Christ is a distinct enthusiasm of the mind, the doing of his commandments is inevitable by the laws that govern the mental operations of every human being.
But such an operative love of Christ presupposes faith, and acquaintance. If the worm of doubt be gnawing at the foundation, the growth of love is a moral impossibility, or if there is no doubt, but only distance, through "the lust of other things entering in" there will be the same failure in the vigour of love. These are the two points we have to watch:
"Beware lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief."
How are we to beware of unbelief? By being on our guard against that which leads to it. Unbelief is the result of ignorance or partial knowledge in any matter. The first condition of faith is knowledge. Let us give attention to the facts-study the facts: keep company with the facts. Let us take Paul's advice to Timothy:
"give thyself wholly to them."
They are worthy of it. There is no class of facts to be compared with the facts concerning Christ. All other facts have but a superficial bearing. They are limited and transient. The facts concerning Christ go down to the foundations of being, affect the springs of all motive, touch the true philosophy of life, govern the everlasting prospect for individual life. How unwise to give them the second place.
"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly."
This is the apostolic exhortation. It is the voice of reason. It means that we must adopt the habits and methods that will lead to this result. How can a man expect the Word of Christ to dwell richly in him, who does not put it in, but fills up his mind instead with the human thoughts reflected in human literature of the moment, and allows his heart to be wholly preoccupied with the affairs of fleeting life, which may collapse like a bubble any moment?
"Give thyself to reading" are Paul's words again. This is an absolute necessity. Only by reading can we make God's acquaintance in His revealed Word, and come under the power of His thoughts and commandments. The daily reading of the Bible ought to be the inexorable practice of every man and woman who aims to "overcome" in the battle all have to wage, who mean to "lay hold on eternal life."
In the face of these sayings of Jesus, what is the love of "professors" for God and his Son worth? It is like their faith, of no account whatever. God asks men for their hearts, but they give Him only their lips. They profess to love Him, but give their affections to the world.
From the ecclesiastical throne, or pulpit, to the humblest "layman," can they give a Scriptural demonstration of obedience to the faith? They offer verbal sacrifices without end; at least they do who are compensated for their words; the "laity" are possessed of a legion of dumb spirits, and sit only as the listless hearers of the "eloquence" presented according to their taste--but where is obedience to the gospel of the kingdom in the name of Jesus?
Who ever thinks of obeying this? And yet He comes to take vengeance on all who obey it not (2 Thess. 1:8).
I cannot too earnestly commend the words of Samuel to the attention of the reader in this place. "Hath the Lord," saith he, "as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Sam. 15:22, 23). A great principle is set forth in these words. It is that which can alone place men in harmony with the religion of God. Without it a man may in deed know the truth, but he must believe and do if he would inherit the kingdom which has been preparing from the foundation of the world.
Religion is of two kinds; that, namely, which is invented by the thinking of sinful flesh, and that which is revealed of God. The former is superstition, and leads men to do a vast deal more than God requires of them, or less than he has appointed. In what is called "Christendom" most improperly (for instead of being Christ's dominion as the word implies, it is the arena of His sufferings in the persons of His disciples, and in the suppression of His truth) these extremes of superstition in its plus and minus exhibitions, are illustrated in all their diversity from popery, which is superstition in excess, down to quakerism, which is superstition in its homeopathic proportion.
The religion of God, on the contrary, is the juste milieu, occupying a commanding and dignified position between the two extremes. It does not require men to abase themselves in the dust, and to afflict their bodies for their sins, nor to plant themselves as so many statues of clay, with downcast or upturned visages, in the silence of the sepulchre, under pretence of waiting for him to move them to preach or pray.
There is no fanaticism nor pietism in His religion. When in the exercise of it men are moved to action, they are acted upon by an intelligent and earnest conviction of the truth. This is the instrumentality by which He rouses men to religious exercise--by the spirit, which is the truth (1 John 5:6). When, therefore, they are really "moved by the spirit" they are moved by the truth, and do not talk nonsense. They speak according to "the law and the testimony," and thus evince to all who understand the Scriptures, that they have "light within."
Everything spoken not according to the word is nonsense; and the spirit never moves men to speak nonsense: nor doth the light of truth within ever teach men to undervalue the institutions of religion, or to live in neglect of them, under pretence of a refined spirituality, or superior sanctity.
"By their fruits ye may know them." This is an excellent rule by which to discern the spirits. Men pray for the Holy Spirit, profess to preach under its guidance, and often, in a very bad spirit, protest that they received it when converted. But the spirit dwells only with those who understand, believe and obey the gospel of the kingdom, and who walk according to its precepts. No man, be he preacher or "layman," has the spirit, or anything else to do with it than as resisting it, who does not preach and believe the gospel Paul preached.
...All the Most High requires of men is just to believe what He has done, what He teaches, and what He promises; to obey the law of faith; to take care of the poor of His flock; and to keep themselves unspotted from the world. This is pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27). But, alas! where is it to be found?
Elpis Israel 1.5.
Meditate day and night
Does this seem like an impractical ideal-only for those who do not have a pressing daily round of labour and responsibility to take care of?
Perhaps we are missing the meaning of the meditation. It is not necessarily a withdrawn, abstract, inactive meditation, but rather a positive, active, practical application of the law of God to every phase and detail of life's necessary activities.
We should do nothing, say nothing, think nothing, without the guidance of the law of God.
It must be our constantly consulted compass-our "meditation day and night." We must ask at each step of the way, "What is the will of God?"- which is but another way of saying (and it is the whole key to life that we perceive and realize this) - it is another way of saying,
"What is the way of wisdom, and joy, and harmony, and facing reality?"
*Bro Growcott - The Psalms
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
A man cannot keep the words of another if he be ignorant of those words, neither can he believe them : hence, no one scripturally loves Jesus who is ignorant or faithless of his teaching.
A man ignorant of the truth taught by Jesus, though ever so sincere in his belief of error, is in his sins, and under sentence of death; for it is only that truth believed and obeyed that frees from sin and its consequences.
"Sanctify them through thy truth, O Father; thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
This is the sanctifying element of Christianity: and that truth is the word of the kingdom hearkened to and understood by the honest and the good of heart (Matt. 12:19, 23; Luke 8:15).
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
While he was with them, they were Christ-guided men, which was a great privilege; but Spirit-guidance was greater. Christ-guidance in the days of his flesh was guidance from without, while Spirit-guidance would be guidance from within -- a guidance unerring and permanent.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid
Great peace have those who receive the peace that Christ gives. The world cannot give peace. It may bestow its favour, its commendations, its emoluments, but these cannot bring peace. They may afford gratification to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life," but they cannot minister to those higher capacities and higher cravings in elohistic man, which can only be filled and satisfied by God Himself.
Man was made for God in the beginning, and can never realise the object of his being, away from His friendship and service. These secured in Christ, give peace -- a peace that makes a man independent of the world -- a peace too profound to be described -- fitly defined only in the words of Paul:
"the peace of God that passeth all understanding, filling the heart and mind."
It is a peace accessible in Christ only;
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. v. 1).
Nazareth Revisited Ch 52