1 (A Psalm of David, Maschil.) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
The greatness of God and the dreadfulness of sin are ideas that go together. Practically, we see what sin means in the case of Adam. One sin - not a great sin as men would reckon-brought death, and the countless evils that have since afflicted the human race.
Sin is the non-conformity to God's will as expressed in His commands. Why it should be esteemed so dreadful a thing we realise when we think what it is in relation to ourselves. It is the misuse of the highest prerogative God can confer upon a created being. He has given us the possession of an independent will, a free volition.
It is a sharp instrument, a high privilege, but a dreadful responsibility. God hedges it by this proviso that it must not be exercised against Him. So stringent is this proviso that it is enforced by death. The will used against Him will be withdrawn.
... what is forgiveness? It is the consent of God not to impute the sin that has been sinned - to let it pass. He offers to do this - to justify us, to consider us righteous on condition of our compliance with the conditions provided in the case. Surely the man is blessed-happy-who is in this relation to God.
... Forgiveness is God's act, not ours. It is something that takes place in God's mind, and if he does not forgive, it matters not how we may feel. It may be illustrated in human affairs: suppose you have been offended, and you do not forgive the offender, because of his non-compliance with what you require, and suppose he is under the idea that you have forgiven him, does his idea alter the fact?
The forgiveness to be a fact must be a something in your mind, not in his feelings. So forgiveness to be real must be in God's mind. It is in this aspect of the matter that the tremendous importance of God's conditions appears. It is no matter how we may stand with men in the matter, if we are not right with God.
2 Blessed is the man unto whom Yahweh imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Improprieties in Prayer
"When Christadelphians approach the Deity, are they not in the blessed position described by David (Psalm 32:1, 2), having their transgression forgiven-their sins covered?
If so, is it right of them to say, 'We have done those things which we ought not to have done, and we have not done those things which we ought to have done?' Such and other phrases that I have heard in the public prayers of brethren appear to me to be contrary to the way of truth.
I know that we are liable to err, and do err, for which there is provision in the priesthood of Christ, for if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father. At the same time, unless we are conscious of transgression, I think we ought to come with greater boldness to the throne of grace.
We ought to come as children to worship God in the beauty of holiness, and not as trembling unjustified sinners."-C. M. H.
Answer.-The foregoing remarks are good. We commend them to the attention of all who rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. Our approaches to the unspeakable Majesty of Heaven and earth's Creator, ought to be characterised by all reverence and godly fear; but as justified in Christ, it ought not to be to proclaim ourselves unutterable offenders, as which, we will not be received. If we are such we must reform before we think of "offering praise."
It is all very well for "Gentiles in the flesh" who are yet "afar off," without God in the world, to continually declare themselves "miserable sinners." "Saints in Christ" are not miserable sinners. They have the spirit of adoption sent forth into their hearts; and they cry "Abba, Father," and in words of joyful gratitude, give praise to his name and make their requests known to Him; giving earnest heed to living
"soberly, righteously, and godly."
The Lord taketh pleasure in his saints; only let them see that they turn not again unto folly." We must be doers of the will of the Father before he will hear us.
"If any man be a doer of His will, him He heareth."-(John 9:31).
If we are doers of His will, we may still say
'forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;"
but we will not defile our worship by the false models of prayer extant in the corrupt religious world of the present day; in which the utterers of them pour out a stream of loathsome declarations, under the idea that God is pleased with sinners who confess themselves to be such, out and out.
What God wants is the reforming of sinners. He will forgive such, and delight in their ascriptions when they come to him with "clean hands and a pure heart." He will forgive the errors and shortcomings of such as are after His own heart; but the proud, and the unclean, and the indifferent, and the continually disobedient he will not look at.
Their abject protestations are mere lip-worship, which He hates; and even if heart-worship, it is not of the sort that he loves.
The condition of favourable reception is this: "Come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters."-(2 Cor. 6:17.)
The Christadelphian, May 1872
8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
What is the theme of human poems?
Merely human impression.
It may be a fair maid - a lovely form of life no doubt, but a perishing, fleeting thing. Or perhaps it is some smiling landscape; or some passing aspect of nature, such as a beautiful sunset.
Bible poems, the Psalms for example, deal with nothing so limited as this. They are all about God; they recognise God as the Root, the Rock, the Upholder, the Guide of all things.
This is deep, eternal, and true. This is satisfying; it is enlarging; it is purifying. Holiness, says the Scripture, becometh thine house; all the Psalms are holy; all the Scriptures are holy.
... Everybody is made holy by reading it; that is, everybody who does so with diligence, earnestness, and effect. This is its mission as regards individuals; to make men holy "to purify for Christ a peculiar people, zealous of good works" to whom Christ has left his command, "Be ye holy" and of whom Paul says,
"without holiness, no man shall see the Lord."
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
When John, in Patmos, was permitted to see it in vision, for the benefit of all the servants of God, he heard the redeemed of the Lord come with singing to Zion. It was no ordinary singing. He could only compare it to a tempest-a roar of many waters, and the sound of mighty thunderings, mixed with music, vocal and instrumental. Such a performance can only mean gladness of the intensist nature.
People sing when they are happy, and the strength of the song is in the ratio of the joy. When the gladness is very great, it can only express itself in rapturous shrieks, or in uncontrollable tears. But here is a gladness expressed with the stately measures of a regulated tempest of melody.
Consider its cause, and you will see that it contains the opened fountains of every conceivable joy.
"He hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hands."
To the common run of people, this may seem no cause of joy whatever. To the highest discernments among men, it means the vastest reformation of human life that is possible. Religion-the noblest, the grandest, the purest, the happiest concern of man-has become the ugliest, the foulest, and most abhorrent thing on earth: it has been made to stink in the nostrils of intelligence in all countries through association with the drivelling inanities of a presumptuous and unscriptural priestcraft, whose hands are historically dyed with the blood of the best of men, and who would shed blood in streams to-day if they had the power.
When Christ has torn up this system by the roots and tossed it, in destroying anger, into the abyss, no wonder that the welkin will ring with the glad shouts of righteous men. What gladness for Christ to take to himself his great power and to reign. What a different place the world will be where he is head and master and lord and shepherd of all. How fitting that such a change should be celebrated in one loud, long pæan of joy.
"The Kingdom" means blessedness for all people when the wicked are overthrown. They are unblessed now, as we painfully know. The knowledge is often a distress: but here is gladness. The evils we deplore, which all kinds of men and movements are vainly trying to mend, will all disappear when they have served their purpose in this preparatory phase of the world's history. The present darkness in all departments of human life will flee away before the bright morning that will come with Christ. Therefore, as it is written,
"Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage of the Lamb is come(ing)."
The bride and bridegroom, when they enter into possession of the earth-portion the Father has given them, will occupy and administer for the glory of God and the good of all mankind.
We go one step higher, and the case for gladness is complete. If the Kingdom will be good for the world as subjects, what will it be for us if we are permitted to reign? It is to this we are called. It is this that Christ promises. It is no flight of poetic imagination when we try to realise what it means for us when the promise is fulfilled. Are you now weak and burdened? You will then be strong and light of heart and foot. Are you now harrassed with anxieties and difficulties in the way of providing necessary food, not to speak of the impossibility of doing for others what you would wish? There will be no end to the opulences of all things that will be under your hand for the great work of reigning with Christ. Are you small and despised-perhaps persecuted, perhaps oppressed by those about you?
You will be an object of deference and worship among the happy people over whom Christ will set you to rule. Are you pining for true friendship-the sweetness of loving and being loved? You will be dear to a multitude of the glorified saints whom you will often see, and will find a constant feast in your recollection of them all.
Are you oppressed with a conscious deficiency of knowledge and faculty and capacity, in various things, such as language, music, &c.? All this deficiency will disappear under a change of nature that will cause you to know as you are known, and to possess in their fulness the gifts of the spirit which the apostles tasted, and which they described as "the powers of the world to come."
You will be able to commune with the highest of the saints on matters on which perhaps at present you would not be at home, and to take part with any of them as an effective executant in their joyful feasts of song.
In a word, whereas you are now weak and low, mortal and insignificant, inconsiderable and unsatisfied, you will, if God be pleased with your faith and obedience, become strong and immortal, efficient and glad, important and joyful among a multitude similarly privileged.
You do not feel like it now. Remember it does not depend upon you at all except that conformity with the Father's will on which all ultimately depends. You are invited freely to partake of a feast of God's spreading. He is able to provide it. It is just as easy for Him to give all the good things He has promised, as to continue us in present lowly being. The elements of His power are all around. They merely require combining in the new shape He purposes. Take Him at his word and be glad.
"Be glad in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye upright in heart."
"He will beautify the meek with salvation."
He will fill the earth with joy and praise. His word cannot fail.
"Thou yet shall find it true to thee."
Open your heart to all these things. You are, as it were, cheating yourself if you are not glad. We have to pull through the time. It is better we should do it in joy than in grief. There are causes of sadness, and sadness in its place is essential to the work of God, yet we may have too much for want of thinking. The gladness overtops all the sadness, and is so stupendous and so founded in the truth that only the dimness of our mental perceptions and the feebleness of our physical powers of endurance prevents us from being in a state of ecstacy all the day long.
Let us try and improve our attainments in this respect. Let us give God pleasure by our manifest gladness at knowing Him and the purpose that He has purposed to show unto us, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus-not only in ages that have no flaw, but that will never end.
Exhort 280 TC 10/1896