3 Great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
And such praise! Every person in the assembly will take an enlightened and an efficient part. Every heart will be fully concentrated-"fixed" is the psalmodic phrase-on the high and holy object of it, who, though "above all blessing and praise," has declared His delight in the pure-hearted adoration of those whom He has made.
There will be no such drawback as we experience now in our midst: there will be no drawing nigh with the mouth while the heart is far away. There will be no technical pre-occupation with notes; no mechanical unfeeling utterance of words; no mere musical, and sometimes unmusical, sounds from the throat. Every mind will be aglow with great thoughts of God; every heart with the transport of admiration; and every voice in full accord with those laws of musical harmony, which, with all other laws, are laws of God's own constitution.
All who take part will have changed from the mortal and the frail to the undying and the strong; from the stunt and the incapacity and the weakness of the corruptible, to the strength and glory and efficiency of the spirit-nature, whose capabilities of enjoyment will be at their highest tension in the act of collective praise to the Eternal Father of all, of whom and to whom and through whom are all things.
We are looking forward to this feast of praise in the state described by Paul:
"Made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope."
These are the days of our pilgrimage. But they need not be praiseless days. Nay, they must not be; it is part of the calling to which we have been called to-
"Render the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name."
We are "a chosen generation-a peculiar people-a royal priesthood"-even now (1 Pet. 2:9), part of whose vocation it is to-
"Show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light."
9 Yahweh is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
"His tender mercies are over all His works" is supposed by some to necessitate the idea that all His creatures have the right to approach Him. Unless the whole of the facts concerning God are considered, undoubtedly there is apparent ground for this conclusion. But a passage such as this must be viewed comprehensively.
The condition of the Gentile nations at the time the utterance was given must first be taken into account. These were walking in their own ways, without hope, and destitute of the knowledge which makes life worth living, and this through no fault of their own. Can we say in the strictest sense of the words, that these nations were the recipients of God's tender mercies?
God's goodness must be viewed from God's standpoint. His goodness permits the bulk of mankind to pass into eternal oblivion; it permits the good to be cruelly oppressed for centuries; and many other (from a human point of view) anomalous things.
The deduction from all this is that God's goodness and mercy must be interpreted in the light of facts, and not away from them. His goodness may or may not allow the alien to commune with Him, and the enquiry now is, What saith the Word?
There are some brethren who are inclined to think that the alien have the privilege of approaching Deity as creatures to a Creator, though not as children to a father. But such a thought is neither in accord with the spirit nor letter of scripture. We have seen that man by nature is the creature of wrath; that to attain to a position of favour, he must know and obey God. In other words, he must intelligently apprehend the things concerning the kingdom and name, and humbly fall in with the conditions appointed for the forgiveness of sins.
God in His word (and we hear His voice nowhere else) speaks to man. His command is "Hear ye him (Christ.)" And Christ exclaims,
"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."-"I am the way the truth, and the life." "No man cometh unto the Father but by me."
Is it not bordering upon presumption to ignore these directions, and affirm that men can draw near to Deity upon their own basis? We ought rather to adopt Paul's reasoning
"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
In Christ we have confidence; out of him there can be none. In him, there is grace and peace; out of him, there is nought but uncertainty and danger. "Free thither" is the exhortation of the Spirit to the alien. The scripture data upon which we can alone rightly reason necessitates the view that the alien must first give themselves to the Lord before they can possess the right to worship.
That those outside Christ are recipients of the Creator's temporal mercies, is another matter. Like the birds of the air, not one is overlooked. God's mercy, however, is subject to many qualifications. This has already been noticed, and does not require to be enlarged. God's dealings in the past show that at times He has regard for the alien (individually and nationally) who manifest a certain character, but the point is, does it involve communion?
Concerning communion, plain revelation is given which shows it to pertain only to the saints. Yahweh, however, has the right to do what He wills. His enactments have been given to guide us, not Himself. If he chooses to act apart from them, it is His prerogative so to do; but we have no right to set them aside, nor to presume upon what He might do. During the Mosaic dispensation, worship was confined to those in covenant relationship with God, and it is the same under the present dispensation.
Bro AT Jannaway - TC 06/1886
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;
As one warms up to a right appreciation of the certainty and blessedness of Christ's coming and kingdom, a host of questions speed through the brain. Why are we not more joyful? Why are we not more ardent and importunate in our prayers for the kingdom to come? Why are we not more eager to spread its news to others?
Why are we less at home in unfolding the glorious, heart-rejoicing particulars concerning it, than in demonstrating the errors of Christendom? Why are we so shy and strained in our everyday allusions to it? Do these questions imply an untrue situation? No. Then what is the explanation?
It lies partly in our unfamiliarity with the subject, and partly in our feebleness of conviction in relation to the kingdom. We do not want cant-hypocritical talk. But we do want homely conversation about the kingdom, and more of it. The family circle is not silent when a sea-side holiday is in prospect, nor when it is spoken of is the conversation wooden or stilted.
Christadelphians are a family-for the moment at work, but with a grand holiday ahead. Let us then speak more of it, and learn to do so naturally-not pull long faces, and assume sanctimonious demeanour, as if the kingdom were a place of punishment instead of reward-of happiness and joy.
We are about to start a new year. Let us try to improve, and the way to do so is to become more and more acquainted with our subject, and to grow heart and soul in love with it. And to do this we have only to copy Christ.
He sought first the Kingdom of God, and spoke of it to those near and afar off accordingly. A passionate fondness for the kingdom will make us the best friends and helpers of the brethren, and will safeguard us against the many dangerous pitfalls which beset our path in this present evil world.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Jan 1905
18 Yahweh is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
No man will reach the kingdom without prayer, and prayer to be effectual must proceed from lips which are sincere and upright. God will not hear men who keep not His commandments (Prov. 15:29; Ps. 66:18).
The prayers of the disobedient are worse than useless-they are an abomination in God's ears (Prov. 28:9). Let us then examine ourselves, and pray simply, fervently, unceasingly. Let us pay no heed to the objections of men who tell us that prayer is beneath the notice of a Great Creator, that it is superfluous, and, if answered, would mean a violation of Nature's laws. Till the Bible is demolished we can afford to let such objections severely alone.
The Bible is full of encouragement in the matter of prayer. Hannah prayed for a child, and got one (1 Sam. 1:11, 20) Abraham's servant prayed for a good wife for Isaac, and met with a response (Gen. 24.). Hezekiah asked for longer life, and received it (Is. 38). Moses and David petitioned the destruction of their enemies, and were answered. Therefore there is power in prayer.
But someone may say, "I have often prayed, and obtained no reply." What of that? Has not God coupled with His promises an intimation that at times He will refrain from answering prayer? No prayer will be heeded which is opposed to His will (1 Jno. 5:14). Can we not trust God to pick and choose for us in the things that we would like?
Much that is beyond the power of finite man to see and grasp has to be taken into account before his prayer can be answered. We sometimes forget this when things do not go just as we would wish. Let us remember, too, that this is a day for walking by faith, and that all prayer is answered in harmony with this divine arrangement.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Aug 1900