1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
In whose hands would we care to entrust a rod of iron? Is it to be marvelled at that the preparation of those who are to wield this rod of iron should be so severe?
First, we are called upon to believe God in the face of unbelief; secondly, we are called upon to honour God in the face of dishonour, for the man who serves God is looked upon as spoiled. Then there are other forms of severity, such as: Do not return evil for evil; do not avenge yourselves, wait for God; patiently take wrong, even fraud; be kind to the unthankful; seek not every man his own things.
Is any man fit to be trusted with a rod of iron who does not come up to the standard which these commands determine? The ordeal of Christ's principles acting on our daily life, that is where the thing scrapes into the bone. ...
... God puts us under restraint by giving us commandments. And do you suppose that God will give us these without giving us the chance of obeying them?
"Be kind to the unthankful." Some day the unthankful will come along, and we shall have the power to help them. What will we do? Let us not refrain from showing kindness, and say that they do not deserve it. What discipline! Those who do not cultivate self-restraint cannot be happy.
True satisfaction lies in the exercise of those parts of the brain that are universally neglected. It is nice when we can see that godliness is profitable, nevertheless we must obey God whether we can see this or not.
Bro Roberts - A London Team Meeting
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
WHAT is to be the future of our ecclesias?
If Christ delay his coming, are they to make headway, or to lose ground? Our wish, of course, is for the former, but will our wish be realised? This will depend largely upon our attitude towards the Scriptures, and towards the writings of Dr. Thomas and brother Roberts.
The success that has attended the efforts of the brethren in the past has undoubtedly been due, first, to the recognition of the fact that the Bible is divine-that it has a paramount claim upon our obedience-and that it is a duty to daily and prayerfully read it.
And secondly, to the appreciation of the invaluable writings of the brethren mentioned-brethren, who in God's hands, were instrumental in unfolding to us the way of salvation; brethren who, to their dying days, were steadfast and exemplary.
Why do we refer to these matters? Because of the growing tendency to underestimate their importance. Let us treat with righteous indignation any and every appeal to keep quiet as to our views respecting the infallible authorship of the Bible. Let us also treat with scorn any suggestion to hide or shelve the works of Dr. Thomas and brother Roberts.
Men cannot play about with the partial inspiration heresy without hurt, and they cannot part company with the author of Eureka, or the author of Christendom Astray, without parting company with the truth.
Brethren who are unfriendly with either the one or the other of these friends of God are unquestionably on the down-grade. If our ecclesias are to advance-if they are to abound in God's work and favour-we shall have to keep our eyes and ears open, and wish Godspeed only to intelligent, right-minded lovers of the Sacred Oracles, and readers and appreciators of the writings to which reference has been made.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Aug 1904
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Every man who commits his way to God, has the pledge of guidance, without any information as to the shape the guidance may take. He shall direct thy steps may include any form of guidance, and the guidance is often there when you cannot discriminate it from the mass of fortuitous occurrences which constitute the bulk of human experience.
History and experience show this. Individual action and individual plans, conceived with apparently individual spontaneity, may be the very hand of God. Of course, it may be our own hand altogether. All depends upon whether God's work is concerned.
All that man can do, in the absence of express direction such as David had (Go up to Hebron), is to commit his way to God in the keeping of His commandments, in the faith that God will direct, even in the midst of the stupidest of blunders and direst of calamities.
Second Voyage to Australia
God will not "direct our paths" unless we on our part "acknowledge Him in ALL our ways." There can be no holding back. Continually uppermost in the mind at all times must be the remembrance of God and a desire to please Him, which is stronger than any other desire.
If we do not have this, let us stick with it and think it through until we clearly see there is no other sensible or satisfactory way to live. God said to Israel, and it applies to all-
"Be ye not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding" (Psa. 32:9).
Most people live like the horse and the mule. They never do any real thinking. They live by custom, and desire, and habit, and emotion, and self-gratification. God's people must be different.
Bro Growcott - But where shall wisdom be found
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Peace: the more we grow in the Truth, the more we value it. This grows bigger and bigger to us, and everything else grows smaller. Godly peace, eternal peace -- PEACE WITH GOD. If we have this, we have everything. Nothing else matters: even this present life itself. It is freely available to all. It is entirely up to us whether we have it or not. External circumstances have no bearing on it. It is strictly between us and God. Like everything else in this orderly universe, it is the result of a cause.
The entire scientific, industrial, agricultural world is built on the immutable fact that certain causes ALWAYS bring certain results, from baking a loaf of bread to landing a man on the moon. A chemical formula always works exactly the same under the same conditions. Vary the conditions slightly, and you vary the result, and the variation of result is always the same for the same variation of cause.
So it is with peace. Follow the EXACT, God-given formula, and it will come. Ignore the formula, or be careless about it, and -- though you move heaven and earth -- the result will never, never come. God gives us the formula very plainly: total love, total devotion, total service, total striving against Sin in every form, aspect and manifestation. Beat your head forever against the inevitable if you wish, but for the Peace of God you will be forced to come at last to this. There is no other way
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
It is probable that, had Adam been obedient to the law of the Tree of Knowledge, he would have been permitted to eat of the Tree of Life, after he had fulfilled his destiny as an animal man; and, instead of dying away into dust, have been "changed in the twinkling of an eye," as Enoch was; and as they are to be, who shall be ready for the Lord at His coming.
Elpis Israel 2.11.
...men are not only made, or constituted sinners by the disobedience of Adam, but they become sinners even as he, by actual transgression. Having attained the maturity of their nature they become accountable and responsible creatures.
At this crisis, they may be placed by the divine arranging in a relation to His word. It becomes to them a tree of life (Prov. 3:18), inviting them to "take, and eat and live for ever."
If, however, they prefer to eat of the world's forbidden fruit, they come under the sentence of death in their own behalf. They are thus doubly condemned. They are "condemned already" to the dust as natural born sinners; and secondarily, condemned to a resurrection to judgment for rejecting the gospel of the kingdom of God; by which they become obnoxious to "the SECOND death" (Rev. 20:14).
Elpis Israel 1.4.
19 Yahweh by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
In the beginning
It requires an inspired book to tell us of a beginning when there was no man present to witness it. The beginning of things on the earth about 6,000 years ago is suggestive of that other beginning to which the mind cannot help occasionally turning, as it contemplates the measureless ages behind us and the vast immensities of space around us. With this beginning we have no power to grapple. We are stunned and paralysed by the least glimpse of it.
That there must have been a beginning to the universe as we see it is manifest from the marks of progress and development everywhere visible in heaven and earth, and that there is a plan and coherency in it all is equally apparent, for the immensity, though we talk of it as infinite, is made up of measurable parts, and each part is characterised by rational plan down to its smallest fibre or atom. But beyond the conclusion that it is all in the grasp of an intelligent unity, we cannot get. We have no faculty at present for dealing with such magnitudes of time and space, and therefore they stagger us. But let us be on our guard against too much staggering.
Some people turn the terrible greatness to quite an illogical use. Because they cannot measure God, they cannot trust themselves to believe in Him. Because the earth is so small a part of the infinite whole, they cannot receive the idea that God should attend to it and provide for it in the way revealed in the gospel.
This is the mere illusion of human weakness. It is the result of arguing from how the universe strikes small man to how it must be to the interpenetrating strength and wisdom of Him who fills heaven and earth. It is a total mistake of reason. We might just as well leave off attending to our business and neglect to provide our daily meals, because the universe is so vast.
Men do not make this mistake with regard to their personal affairs. Usually, the greatness of the universe has the reverse effect when realised. The man is driven to stick all the closer to his personal affairs. He is liable to say,
"Well, the universe is very grand and indeed truly tremendous, but the only part that affects me is this little part which is called the earth, and even on the earth it is a very little part of it that affects me. I will look wisely after that little part and use the rest merely as an occasional diversion of mind."
This is a wise attitude so far as it goes, but why should men not be equally wise in other matters that are equally practical and personal though for the moment a little more remote? Why should men attend to the meat that perisheth and neglect "the living bread that came down from heaven, whereof if a man eat he shall live for ever?"
Why should men allow the greatness of the works of God to interfere with their attention to a message from the Maker of the works, and who is greater than all His works, who can attend to the minute details of His works as well as sustain them in their universal vastness?
32 For the froward is abomination to Yahweh: but his secret is with the righteous.
Why cannot the world see the signs?
Because those signs are communicated in a form that can only be apprehended by childlike and patient persevering study. It was said to Daniel, concerning them:
"The wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand" (Dan. 12:10).
The same idea was indicated to John, in the words:
"Here is wisdom: let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast"
Now, the world lacks the very beginning of wisdom, the fear of God; and, therefore, can never obtain access to secrets accessible only to a state of mind of which that fear is the very first characteristic. The world aims at its own gratification and glory; and, therefore the secrets of God are hid from it.
"His secret is with the righteous."
"The scorner seeketh wisdom," we are told, "and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy to him that understandeth" (Prov. 14:6).
Another reason why the world cannot see the signs, or, rather, another aspect of the same reason, is that the signs themselves, when understood, are so gradual in their development that it requires the patience of a loving and affectionate watch to be able to discern them.
They do not flash like a rocket before our vision: they are not like the flaming meteor, rushing across the sky, and dazzling all our eyes by its brightness; they are not even like the slow-moving comet, spread out in the heavens in definite and luminous form.
They rather resemble the stately and unsensational movements of the starry universe, from which the dates of eclipses are deduced. They are movements in the political heavens correspondent with the indications of the prophetic word, telling us of the approach, not of an eclipse, but of a sunrising which is to bring healing to the world. The scoffer cannot discern these movements, even though he may be acquainted with the facts of which they consist. He laughs at the expectation of the saint, and says,
"Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
They join with the scoffers of ancient days in Israel (for such there were), who said,
"Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it" (Isa. 5:19).
The day that is coming will justify the faith and hope of the righteous, and overwhelm the despisers of the word with consternation.