One Here, One There

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Of all we meet in life’s great stream,
There’s but one here and there
Who treasures most the better things;
Each man to self most tightly clings,
For self he toils, for self he sings,
Except one here, one there.

The world would be a desolate place,
But for one here and there,
Whose heart with self hath not been filled,
Whose love for God hath not been killed,
Whose thankful praise hath not been stilled;
There’s one such here and there.

And this hath been the Lord’s wise will,
To find one here, one there,
Who counting earthly gain but dross,
Would daily take the Christian’s cross,
E’en at the risk of any loss:-
God finds one here and there.

‘Tis not the numbers that He seeks,
But just one here, one there;
He seeks not souls, but jewels fair,
For those who will His suff’ring share,
And for His sake reproaches bear;
They’re few; one here, one there!

But oh! the grandeur of the work
For this one here and there,
To join in lifting up our race,
To wipe away of sin each trace,
To make of earth a perfect place,
Put glory everywhere!.

From Pilgrim Echoes by Br Benjamin Barton

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The words below are from Reprint No. 2127-2129, from the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence as documented on “Harvest Truth DataBase Version 9: http://www.htdb.one

GOD’S “PECULIAR PEOPLE”

—————

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.”1 Pet. 2:9,10.

WE LOOK in vain for this “holy nation” amongst the various nations of the world today. The pathway of even the best of those denominating themselves Christian nations is marked with blood and violence and various evidences of selfish rapine. The very best of them would fall far short of any reasonable standard of holiness. They are all, as the Scriptures declare, parts of the kingdom of darkness under the prince of darkness, “the prince of this world,” who still rules the “kingdoms of this world.”

This “holy nation” was founded by our Lord Jesus, and had no existence before his advent. The basis upon which it was founded was the “ransom for all” which he gave at Calvary, and the beginning of the construction of his kingdom was at Pentecost. Since then it has progressed after a manner which is adapted to his purposes, though very contrary to the manner of the world and the nations of earth. It is unknown to the worldly, as it is written, “The world knoweth us not, even as it knew him not.”

This Kingdom is an ecclesiastical Kingdom—a Church-Kingdom; but even if we look amongst the numerous church-kingdoms which have sprung up in the world (each of which claims to be the kingdom of God’s dear Son), we find that this “holy nation” or Kingdom is none of these. It is not the Roman Catholic church or ecclesiastical kingdom, nor the Greek church, nor the Armenian, nor the church of England, nor the Methodist church, nor the Lutheran, nor the Presbyterian, nor the Baptist, nor the Congregationalist. These all may have amongst their millions some members of this “little flock,” this “holy nation,” this true Kingdom class which the Lord is selecting; but none of these institutions is the Lord’s Kingdom; none of them contains all who are his. There is only one record in the universe that enrolls all the members of this “holy nation” or Kingdom: it is called, “The Lamb’s Book of Life.” Hence, if we examine church history, we shall no more find this “holy nation,” this holy ecclesiastical Kingdom, than amongst the temporal kingdoms. The historians knew not of the true “holy nation:” they saw and knew and recounted the incidents of the human organizations, called “Christ’s kingdoms,” but they knew nothing of the true one. Although it has existed from the day of Pentecost to the present time, it has always been the kingdom of heaven suffering violencedespised and rejected of men, insignificant and ignored in the sight of the world.—Matt. 11:12.

The reason for this is that it is a “peculiar people”—not peculiar in dress, nor in manners, nor in language, nor in foolish, senseless forms and idiosyncrasies; but peculiar in that it is separate from the world and the spirit of the world. It has the spirit of Christ—a spirit of full consecration to the Lord, and separateness from the world and its selfish aims. It is peculiar in its adherence to the Word of the Lord as its only law. It is peculiar in that it rejects worldly wisdom when it conflicts with the divine revelation. It is peculiar in that it is in the world, but not of the world. It is peculiar in that it has a decided faith and acts in harmony with its faith, and with zeal. It is peculiar in that it is self-sacrificing and knows no will but the will of its King. It is peculiar in that it knows the truth and is able to give a reason for the hope within, while others merely speculate and wonder and doubt.

The King, when establishing this Kingdom, forewarned all who would be of it that, in proportion as they possessed his character and his truth, and were thus “children of the light,” and likenesses of himself, who was “the Light of the world,”—in that proportion they would have the enmity of the world and the opposition of the flesh and the devil to withstand and overcome. In view of his forewarnings, “Marvel not if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you;” “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own, but now ye are not of the world; because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you;” “Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” in view of these admonitions it should not surprise us that the nations of the world (political and ecclesiastical kingdoms) have always hated and persecuted the individuals composing this “holy nation.” They seem to realize an antagonism, however little it may be expressed. This “holy nation” looks to a higher King and higher laws than any by which others are governed, and as Herod sought to destroy “him who was born king of the Jews,” so the various worldly nations have sought (under the influence of the prince of this world) to hinder the development of this holy nation as antagonistic to their systems.

Nevertheless, we note the care with which the apostles pointed out that all who compose this holy nation shall, so far as possible, “live peaceably with all men”—avoiding strife and contentions, except where principles are involved; and even when contending “earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” to manifest the spirit of meekness and patient forbearance, that “whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” He urges, therefore, all of the holy nation, saying, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:…For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God….For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully….For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”1 Pet. 2:13-23.

Thus the King of this “holy nation” set for every member of it an example that they should walk in his footsteps. He declared that his Kingdom was not of this world; consequently neither does the Kingdom power of this “holy nation” belong to this present age. It awaits the return of the King himself, who said, “If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” He has promised, moreover, that when he comes again it will not be in a body of humiliation for sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the world—for this sacrifice he has already accomplished to the full: He comes to reign, and has promised that his “holy nation” shall be associated with him in the reign of righteousness, wherewith he will “bless all the families of the earth.”

But we notice further the Apostle’s statement that this “holy nation” or Kingdom is also a “royal priesthood.” We look amongst the priesthoods of earth, but we find that the priestly office is distinctly kept separate from the kingly office, everywhere. Indeed, they are generally antagonistic. The kings and royal families usually represent the highest developments of ambition and self-gratification: the priests of earth, theoretically at least, present sacrifices, and thus seek to make atonement for sins. Priests do not exercise kingly authority, nor kings condescend to priestly services. But in this “peculiar people” the priesthood and kingship are united.

It was so with the King himself,—as a priest he offered up his own life, unselfishly, for the redemption and blessing of others. As a King he still has the same unselfish character and will use his kingly office to carry forward to all mankind, and make available to all, the blessings, liberties and privileges purchased with his own precious blood. His reign will be for this very purpose;—and for the establishment of righteousness and the extirpation of evil and those who adhere to it. The King himself is the great High priest of this “peculiar people,” this “holy nation,” this “royal priesthood;” and it is required of each individual member of this “holy nation” that he shall be a priest; that he shall be a sacrificer; that he shall partake so much of the loving and generous disposition of the King that he will desire to do good unto all men, as he may have opportunity, especially to “the household of faith;” and that he shall lay down his life for the brethren—in the service of the truth, in their interest. In these and all respects they must all be conformed to the image of God’s dear Son.—Rom. 8:29.

This experience as sacrificers in this present time as sufferers for righteousness’ sake, as tempted and tried and able to sympathize with the weak and the erring, is a necessary part of the educational discipline which must be undergone by this priesthood before they are accounted ready to enter the honors and powers of their divine kingdom, as representatives and associates of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Nor does their priesthood end when their kingly powers begin, for it is written concerning their future reign,—“Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:10,11.) This “peculiar people,” this “holy kingdom” or nation all of whom are “royal” priests, has a great work to do when established in the kingdom power; for it is none other than the promised “Seed of Abraham,” which, according to the divine promise, is to have entrusted to it the great work of blessing all the families of the earth, by bringing them to the knowledge of the Lord, and into harmony, if they will, with the New Covenant sealed by the precious blood of the King. As explained by the Apostle Paul (Gal. 3:16,29), the King himself is the head of this “seed,” this “peculiar people,” this “royal priesthood;” and they are reckonedly members of his body, and with him they complete this holy seed to which is committed the work of blessing.—Rom. 11:31.

Israel after the flesh, the natural seed of Abraham, supposed that they would have inherited this great privilege and honor, of being the divine representatives in blessing and enlightening the world; but when the King came unto them as “his own,” they received him not, as a nation, but to as many as received him, the faithful remnant, to them gave he “liberty to become the sons of God” and members of this “peculiar people,” this “royal priesthood;” and he then visited the Gentiles to take out of them suitable ones of sufficient number to complete this foreordained priesthood. This “royal priesthood” then, be it noticed, is not the priesthood of Levi, even as this “holy nation” is not the nation of Israel. It is a new priesthood, a new people and a new nation, which never before had any existence, “which in times past was not a nation,” and was not a priesthood, but now is become the people of God, the “royal priesthood,” the “holy nation.”

The Apostle notes still another distinctive feature pertaining to this “peculiar people,” saying that it is a “chosen generation” or race. How strange it would at first seem that the Apostle should speak of this peculiar people, gathered out from amongst various races, Jews and Gentiles, as being a special, particularly chosen race: as though they were a different family entirely from the remainder of mankind. If tribal relationship be understood, is not this “peculiar people” a mixture of all the races? And if all humanity be considered, are not these “peculiar people” of the same race as the remainder of mankind?

Ah, no! they are a new race, a race separate and distinct from all others. True, they once were of the same race, and some belonged to one branch or family and some to another; but their King, in calling them to be this “holy nation,” set aside entirely their previous genealogy and started them as a new race. As members of the Adamic race they were already slaves of sin and under condemnation of death; but their Master and King, who redeemed them from sin and death, opened the way for a full completion of the great divine purpose, and they were begotten again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:3.) They are therefore “new creatures” in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 6:15.) To them old things have passed away, and all things have become new.2 Cor. 5:17.

The apostle therefore was right in his declaration that these are a different generation or race from others of mankind. He was right also in speaking of them as a “chosen generation”—the race which God himself is selecting for the accomplishment of his great and wonderful plan, first declared to Abraham, but not understood, and expected to be fulfilled in Abraham’s literal posterity. In reality this salvation “began to be preached by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” (Heb. 2:3.) True, God has certain provisions and blessings in reservation for the natural seed of Abraham, and let us remember that to them also came the first opportunity, and the first place, in this new, select, spiritual race or “chosen generation.” The Head or Chief of this chosen race, the twelve subordinate chiefs, the apostles, and many of the other members of this “holy nation” came from the literal seed of Abraham; but as a whole the natural seed was not worthy to become the “chosen race” or generation; but only to as many of them as received him (Christ), to them gave he liberty to become the “sons of God,”—by regeneration.John 1:11,12.

Grasping the full statement of the Apostle with reference to this peculiar people, this holy nation, this new or regenerated race, this royal priesthood, we can see readily that none of the human systems or organizations of earth, past or present, fit these demands. But we can see also that the conditions are well fulfilled in a “little flock” of which we may find scattered members here and there to-day, and all the way back to Pentecost. They are all self-sacrificing priests, who serve the living God through Christ Jesus acceptably, by serving one another, and all men as they have opportunity, and in general serving the gospel. Fully consecrated to God, and their imperfections (unintentional) all covered by the merit of the Redeemer, they are indeed a “holy nation,” with higher and different aims from those of the world, and with a different spirit, they are indeed a peculiar people. And the royalty of their priesthood, although unknown to the world at present, shall be revealed in due time; for it is declared by the inspired Word, that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,” “waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.”Rom. 8:19,22.

When the glory of these sons of God, this chosen race, this royal priesthood, shall be revealed in the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, during the Millennium, the entire groaning creation—the whole race of Adam, condemned in Eden, but ransomed at Calvary—shall be blessed by this great “Seed of Abraham.” Instead of their groanings they may have joy and peace, through accepting the blessed arrangements of the New Covenant; and as a result, by the close of the Millennial age, all who will may have experienced the blessings of the divine promise, “God shall wipe away tears from off all faces and turn away the reproach for being his people.” Then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written, He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”Rev. 21:4,5.

Is it any wonder that the Apostle declares that each and all of these “peculiar people” should make it the first, the chief, practically the only business of life, “to show forth the praises [the virtues of character and plan] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light?” And the showing or the telling of these is the preaching of the gospel, whether it be done in public or in private, by word of mouth or by printed page. And this, the chief business of the peculiar people, begun now, will continue to be their business throughout the future, tho under more favorable circumstances, in the majesty of the Kingdom, with power to enforce the wise and just and wholesome laws, and with love and mercy to help and to succor the weak and the erring, and gradually to restore them, if they will, to all that was lost in Adam.

What a wonderful gospel! What a wonderful privilege to be permitted to engage in its proclamation in any manner! Truly, all of the peculiar people can appreciate the testimony of the great Apostle Paul, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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PSALM 139 – “Search Me, O God”

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“You, Lord, are intimately acquainted with every part of my life and thoughts — past, future, present — though such a realisation staggers the natural mind. Everywhere is near You. Your nearness knows no limits. There is neither height nor depth of human experience beyond your sharing or perception. All that I am, comes from You. You are the Cause, and Yours the skill that from my beginning called forth and watched over every stage of my growth, thus turning Your thoughts into my being. The comprehensiveness of Your thoughts defies my imagination, and by them, I am brought forth, not unto myself, but unto You — Your presence, care, and love. Where can any evil, stand in Your presence? May it flee before You, and thus before all whom You cause to stand near You. And may that nearness discover and eradicate all trace of error, that I may walk with You always.”

This paraphrase of Psalm 139 surely expresses the wonder of the dealings of the Lord and His care for each one of His people. It is an intimate confession of the surprise and the awe brought to us by the Truth when we are let into Divine secrets, and when we are thus confronted with the mystery, WHY? Why, Lord, are you interested — in this worthless lump of clay? Who am I Lord? And who are these Thy people? What claims have we upon Divine love? And yet, we are here only because You made us, Lord. We are what we are because that is how You made us. And we are in Your presence, because that is where You had in mind for us to be.

If the lips were King David’s, the words were of the holy Spirit. Their full appreciation requires also the Spirit of God in the heart of the Readers.

Five Parts, Like Genesis to Deuteronomy

The psalms are not in chronological order. This is apparent, in that psalm 137, describing conditions during the captivity in Babylon, is followed by a whole series from the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, psalms 138 to 145, centuries before the captivity. Nevertheless, the Jews have long believed that the psalms are grouped according to a pattern, a series of five themes, which they have likened to the five books of Moses, from Genesis. We find our psalm, 139, in the last of these — the Deuteronomy portion. The book of Deuteronomy is one of retrospect. It looks back over the forty years of wilderness wanderings. This psalm of David also looks back over many years. It looks back with wonder at the countless thoughts of God towards him, the trials, the failings, the over‑rulings, in every experience, God was there.

Perhaps, looking back, we too may be able to recognise in general terms a sequence in our own individual lives. Our own Genesis of beginnings, our first reaching out towards the Lord. In my case, and that of many other brethren, that Genesis beginning coincided with the reading of Volume one of “Studies in the Scriptures — The Divine Plan,” by Pastor Charles Taze Russell. Joseph Rotherham, translator of the “Emphasised Bible,” left his own testimony concerning this book. “The chapter on the Permission of Evil alone is worth more than the price of the whole Volume and is the fullest discussion of this great mystery and the nearest approximation to a probably correct solution of it with which we are acquainted.” (With Volume One selling in those days for only 60 cents, that was a bit of an understatement!) The Lord had set our feet upon a Rock. Many millions of copies of this Volume went out throughout the world. The seed was widely sown, yet from those millions comparatively few were to respond to the sickle‑like message of the harvest of the age.

“Whose hearts the Lord opened.”

It was not you or me, but the Lord; and this must have an awesome effect upon our minds. Why did the Lord open my eyes? Those first vague desires, that impulse to follow, though I knew not whither I was going, why me, Lord?

With each of us, that Genesis stage would soon develop into our Exodus — the effect of Truth in releasing from captivity to the ways and thinking of this present evil world, and the power of the evil one. Again the blessedness of that release was not by our effort. It was the Lord, our Deliverer. He opened our eyes to the vanity of all below, and by various means loosened our grip upon the things of this earth.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed;
There was not a wound in mine aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed,
Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,
In wisdom that taught and fried,
Till the soul He sought was trusting in Him
And nothing on earth beside.

The book of Leviticus was concerned with the Divine sanctuary, the consecration of the priesthood, and the implications of approach to a Holy God. We came to realise that salvation lay in something more than the endeavour to live a high moral life of separation from the world.

At what great cost the Lord made provision for our sinful state.

With this deepening realisation came the longing to know Him better, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire into His sanctuary. With deepening appreciation we learned what consecration really meant — and so beside His sacrifice we were led to lay down our little all. That consecration is still to be brought to completion. Such a state of resolution was the result of heaven’s love overflowing into our hearts. Again; it was the Lord.

A period of wilderness experiences was to follow, our book of Numbers stage. In many ways these wilderness tests and trials of faith are still ours today and probably will be until the journey’s end, yet already, perhaps, they are merging into our Deuteronomy stage of retrospect.

Tonight, we can look back over the whole of life’s journey so far. Do we see a hotch‑potch of seemingly disconnected experiences?

Did our path seem to ramble, first this way, then another, without particular sign of progress or achievement?

That’s what we mean by wilderness wanderings. Did we notice that Rock? — The Rock that followed us? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul sanctioned the Jews’ tradition that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the Israelites from place to place, supplying its life‑giving pools throughout the wilderness way. Deuteronomy 32:4-37 identifies the Rock as the Begetter and the Former, the Saviour and Defender of the Lord’s people; the Source of Truth sweeter than honey, and of the Holy oil, and in all these works, perfect beyond compare.

Someone was watching, watching us every step of the way. Watching us even this moment, and perhaps now, as we look back, helping us to trace the way of the Lord’s dealings in our lives.

“Deep on my heart let memory trace
His acts of mercy and of grace.”

Never did we walk alone, for He had said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

And with that special Angel of His presence, Our Blessed Lord and Head, came other angels, some of them visible angels with human faces. The Janes and Wills, the Mays and Hildas, Judys, Evas, Franks and Harrys, and Jims, the home ecclesia brethren, and other dear brethren both here and throughout the land, each to play a part in our lives, as helping hands along the way. We had so many helps, so many blessings. We can now look back with deepest gratitude to the Lord. He Who designed the Great Ages of His Plan, had turned His wondrous skills to me.

Toward the End of Our Journey

Psalm 139:16 in the Hebrew, “In Thy book each day was planned.” “Thou hast searched me and know.” He knows it all; with vision divine He knows each turn of our path, He knows how it all will end; he knows what is required to achieve that end.

If we have begun our Deuteronomy stage, we know it is not only one of retrospect — it is forward looking also. Never have we been nearer to our journey’s goal. The river at last pours out into the boundless waters of the sea. The nearer it gets to that estuary the greater is the influence of what lies so close ahead. It is moved by its tides, as the great ocean waters mingle with its own. And so with the saints as they anticipate their home‑coming now so near. The abundant entrance, the joyous throng of welcoming overcomers who have gone before — already we sense that sweet taste of victory through Christ — already does that joy unspeakable bring its glory‑glow into our hearts. Soon, the day will arrive for each of us to finish this present course — our Graduation day! Are our gowns ready? Will it be marked, that last step of the way? Will we find a label stating, “This is your final test of faith”? We wait on Pisgah’s mount until that “vision glorious” melts into its full blessed reality.

Looking now forwards towards that veil we perceive but the semblance of what lies beyond. Through that pattern of blue, and purple, and scarlet threads, set in the fine twined linen of cunning work: we but vaguely perceive the hazy outline of heavenly things, depicted in the cherubim. But once we pass that veil, the scales of all present limitations will fall from our eyes, and with vision clear as the noon‑day sun, we shall see Him Whom our soul loveth, face‑to‑face.

Then too shall we see what He has wrought. A new creation, after the likeness of Him that made it. Then, from within those encircling arms of our Father, we shall be blessed with full retrospective wisdom, know at last the reasons for so many puzzling circumstances and experiences of the way.

Even now, can we not anticipate something of the wonder of that blessed hour? Lord, that I might view my present walk, each test, each trial, each concept of Thy Truth, against the glory of that perfect day. Oh that with retrospective wisdom blest, I could retrace each step, remould each thought, with noonday vision of my Father’s face. It is, then, in blessed realisation of all we have come to know of our Father thus far, that our hearts echo the refrain of the psalmist in this song of retrospective wisdom.

Bruising

This whole psalm, 139, is an expression of the awe and wonder of this knowledge of the Lord — that is, His knowledge of us. Verses 2‑5: we have the concept of His omniscience. He knows it all. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. How thankful we are of that. Did we ever feel, “My way is hid from the Lord.”? “I am on my own, He does not know; He does not heed”? Verse 11 of the psalm (139) says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me.” The Hebrew word translated “cover me” is used only three other places. Each time it retains its true meaning, to bruise me. Job speaks in 9:17, of being bruised or broken by the stormy tempest the Lord had allowed into his life.

Genesis 3:15 speaks of the bruising of the seed of the woman. Is there then a hint in this verse 11 of the psalm of the powers of darkness under which both Jesus and His followers would be bruised? Was His arm then shortened that He could not use those very trials to achieve the end He has in mind?

If it pleased the Lord to “bruise” Him, or any other of His children, it is to an end more wonderful than anything they are caused to bear. But only by His permission can the bruising come.

Isaiah 49:14,15. — Does Zion cry “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me”? “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget [a mother’s mind is full of so many things. We can recall one sister who, arriving home from the daily shopping chores, suddenly remembered that she had left the pram at the store!] yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Looking back, can we not each testify with the conviction of retrospect.

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

“The billows that guarded my sea-girt path,
But carried my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest” (“Stream in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman).

The woman was at her wit’s end, dejected and desolate, Genesis 16:6. Her life had become so hard that she had tried to run away. But to go further into the wilderness meant she would certainly perish.

It was then

that the Lord sent His angel to tell her to

go back

and submit to her trials.

What a message! Wherein lay the comfort? Where was the way of escape?

“Go back! Submit!”

Yet with wonder Hagar realised that the Lord knew everything about her, He knew, and He cared! With awe she had come in that moment of crisis to know the name of the Lord. Genesis 16:13, You‑Are‑The‑God‑Who‑Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Did our experience match?

At time of need, did the message come: “Don’t run away! Submit!” Was it in storm that we found our anchor, and first came to realise what it was for?

In that experience Hagar knew she had heard the voice of the Lord, and had seen Him in new light. Forever in her mind that place would be a memorial to a precious divine understanding of human need. She had found a well, and she called it “The Well of the one Who Lives and Sees Me” (NKJV). Never would that well run dry. And the child born from that experience was called “Ishmael,” “God hears.” God really does hear!

Searching

Psalm 139:1 — “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and know.” The following verses show it is an on‑going ever‑present tense. It is said that “the word rendered searched, has a primary reference to mining into the earth as for precious metals.” Digging deep into the inner recesses of our heart. As the result of that searching and sifting, we can confidently say, “Thou, Lord, seest all that is in my heart. Nothing is, or can be, concealed from thee. You know everything about me, yet You still love me!”

It is with this deep consciousness that the psalm begins; and all that follows is but an expansion and application of this revealing. God knows me altogether; He sees all that is there in my innermost being. He sees more in me than I can see in myself. He is fully acquainted with every stage and step of my past life. How does He do this? We may well ask!

More to the point; Why?

Why does He condescend?
Why does He notice?
Why trouble to know me, and everything about me?

It would, of course, be true to say; “known unto the Lord are ALL His works from the beginning.” He is not confined to our concept of time. It is part of His nature, His ability, His attribute of omniscience, to know all things. Is there anything He does not know? But knowing in this intimacy is for us, part of a close relationship, that of a Father and His child. Jesus said (Matthew 6:8), “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And for our Father to see and know, is for Him to oversee and supply the needs of His child.

Helping

Psalm 37:25 — “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” How many of our dear elderly brethren today can echo those words! Yes, maybe sometimes the bread we need turns out to be the “bread of affliction” in 1 Kings 22:27. It is the harsh treatment of one imprisoned by straightened circumstances, like Hagar. Here the word “affliction” is defined as something “to bring one to the state of submission.”

Paul found that imprisonment is not so bad, when shared with the Lord. But sometimes this same expression “bread of affliction” means the sustenance that the Lord specially provides in the midst of trial, as in Deuteronomy 16:3. The Lord will use many means, many messengers, to supply those needs. In 1 Kings 17:4 He uses ravens. In Psalm 23, as in the darkness the enemies circle around the flock, we find a table prepared before us.

So Jacob too was to find as he lay himself down in his stony place. Nor was he the first, nor would he be the last, to discover in the midst of trial the wonders of a God Who sees all, sees our past, and our present, and understands our needs. He knows and sees also what we cannot see, the outcome, the end to which the path is leading and He sends His messengers to our aid with the blessed assurances of His Word of promise. For there Jacob saw a ladder linking all the array of heavenly resources to the pressing needs that moment of one fleeing before the threat of death. He saw Angels ascending and descending.

Do we share Jacob’s vision?

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O could we hear the sound of many wings of angels’ flight on wondrous mission bent! Could we but see each messenger speed forth, to aid, to strengthen, comfort and support! Could we perceive the interest of a spirit world — some rising, some descending, all sent forth along the sunlight shafts of love divine … breaking through clouds … opening prison doors! With ease and grace their wonders they perform, whispering words behind us, beckoning on, guarding, guiding, watching every step of every saint, to keep in all their ways … beholding constantly a Father’s face.

Before we cry, they take our hand to bear us up, and lift us high above the stumbling stones of earth, beyond the things of time and sense to glory realms, eternity’s domain, where dwells our Lord. See, He prepares, within His Father’s House, a place “reserved” (oh blessed thought!) in heaven — for me? Sweet are such messages of love. Beautiful the flight of those who bring them to my longing heart — and loan to me their wings. How wonderful those holy sons of light whose flight from heaven’s courts was made for me, who readily descend to sinful earth to grapple with dark powers to save me harm. Yet their successes apprehended not by our poor minds, we rarely even notice that smoothed path, nor sense their effort, vigilance, or zeal in faithful ministration for our sake.

An angel’s mind accepts such poor acclaim. They joy to do it in the Father’s Name, and recognised or not, they serve the same.

His Presence

Psalm 139:7‑8 speak of His presence. It is as though He is everywhere, and in everything He is the Cause. The heights — and the very depths of human experience — He is there.

Psalm 139:7 — “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Adam ran to hide from that Sacred Presence.

The psalmist was not trying to flee from the Lord’s presence, far from it. He is testifying from his own experiences that there is no place, no trial, no circumstance in life, that is beyond the range of divine awareness, too great, or too little, for Him to share. There is no situation beyond the reach of His eternal arms, or beyond the need of His purpose in us. He uses those two words, presence and spirit, or breath, interchangeably. In every place, He is so close that we can feel, as it were, His breath.

Psalm 139:6 — “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Psalm 139:17,18 — record the wondrous admiration of the psalmist. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Like a child who falls contentedly to sleep upon his Father’s breast, he wakes to find himself there still, within those same unfailing arms. “When I awake” — Our spiritual life is made up of awakenings, rousing of the senses, from our first awakening to the light of Truth and Love and the realms of things eternal. Perhaps in moments of holy contemplation the Lord awakens our mind to depths of truth we had not before suspected. Perhaps at times of great pressure, when the foes of the soul are too strong for us at such a moment, He opens our eyes, like the eyes of Elisha’s servant, to those great forces working together for us — the Hosts of the LORD, the limitless supply of all the divine resources.

Perhaps, like Jacob, our hours of weariness have become times of vision and great reassurance of divine promise so that we feel we have just awakened to the personal watch care of our God and His never‑failing faithfulness, so that we too are constrained to say, “SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, and I knew it not.”

Our spiritual life is made up of such awakenings. There is yet to be the ultimate of all our awakenings, and each awakening of our present course makes it nearer.

Here is that moment of sweet release from all limitation of human frame, the moment of victory. This is the awakening “where sin and sense molest no more,” and the mind soars like the eagle to the sun, to gaze upon and to comprehend all the glorious fullness of truth’s ultimate reality. In Scripture it is compared with the full light of noonday. Doubly precious not only will that moment of blessed truth introduce us into the closest, fullest, relationship and awareness of the glories of eternity, it also will mark the completion, the bringing to perfection, of Our Heavenly Father’s most wondrous purpose for us.

The moment of reaching the goal, the reaching out and grasping of the prize of the high calling, the moment too, that will be, that He reaches His goal for me — His work in me finished, and the great seal of divine approval pronounced, “It is very good,” and, as in a dream, I will realize that He speaks of His work in me! And His “well done,” shall be, though all eternity, enough for me.

Only in the peaks of our present spiritual experience can we remotely sense that height of the Father’s triumph in His achievement, the bringing of His child to glory, the setting of the jewel in His crown. “They shall be Mine.” That moment of awakening to see what He has wrought! Will it not surpass our brightest hopes and sweetest dreams? The years of pilgrimage all lead to this. That delight in the Lord, deepening with time, will be answered in the granting of the heart’s desires, to be experienced in ten thousand joys, all compressed into that moment of change. And central to all our joys, Dear Lord, I am “Still, still with Thee.”

Searching

Psalm 139: 23,24 — “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This has to be searching with intent — the intent of the purifier of silver, and the trier of gold. His thoughts towards us — so many; so high, and humanly unattainable. Here is the response He seeks. The depth of the desire He has imparted in our hearts for holiness, the yearning to be all that He wants us to be; all this is expressed in our earnest plea,

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This is the cry so patiently He waits to hear.

This is the prayer that He alone can answer, and answer it He will, for He it was who has inspired in us this thirst after Him, as of the little deer for the water brooks.

Our Father can make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). What a precious realisation! But He knows those that are His;

He knows the sincerity of our cry for Him to help us search out every corner of our heart for that hidden crumb of leaven, that would pollute His sanctuary.

“Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”

He never asks what He cannot achieve, and how we long for it!

We cry to Him to search out and remove the dross, the ways and weaknesses that cannot co‑habit with a Holy God — Whose dwelling place we are!

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The psalmist commences with the acknowledgement of the Lord’s ability to scrutinize and lay bare before His eyes all that we are. Now he responds with earnest plea of these verses 23 and 24 that those holy eyes search out all trace within us of anything that would grieve our Father’s heart.

“Oh may thy goodness chase away all hindrance to Thy love.”

Do I really long to see my God? Are all my springs — in Him? Does the Spirit He has poured into our hearts answer for us?

If my Heavenly Father desires me for His rest forever, then the honour and the glory cannot be compared with any earthly joy!

Thus do our hearts’ desires with our Father’s desires, merge into that blessed oneness of which our Master spoke in that sacred prayer in John chapter 17.

The psalmist prays that the Lord would examine him with that closest scrutiny, so that he might be under no delusion or self‑deception. To search that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires. Here is a prayer of deep sincerity; a prayer that also implies self‑distrust. Self‑examination is required but is limited in its efficiency.

Each Moment

The goal is closer now; that glorious end of the Lord, that once had seemed so far away. Every moment, we stand upon the brink of realization of that blessed hope. But every moment too, we are already experiencing the joy of that fellowship, the sacred sharing of everything, with our Father, and the consciousness of His great love from which neither life nor death can now ever separate.

So what thought can we carry away with us, today and every day, to keep us poised, as it were, that will recapture for us all the blessings of this searching song? One constant thought helps me. I trust it may also help each one of you.

“This moment belongs to You, Lord. This moment, this knife‑edge of time on which I forever dwell, belongs to YOU.”

A New Song

In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

Is this that song which only Thy saints can sing? This psalm — this beautiful song — the melody that fills the life with the holy awareness of God, to be sung by those whose mind and vision have been enabled by the Spirit’s invitation to “Come up higher”? This song that enables us to break through the boundaries of natural sight into the greater and grander realm, to see the King in His beauty, in the land of far horizons, the immeasurable dimensions of the Divine, that constitute the glory that will fill eternity?

If we have learned this song, how can we keep from singing?

We each can say Psalm 40:3‑4 — “You, Lord, have put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. How Blessed indeed is that one that you have brought to make the LORD our trust …”

How can I keep, from singing!
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, not far‑off hymn,
That hails a New Creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul —
How can I keep from singing?

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above post.

 

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1 CORINTHIANS 3:21,23 – A Precious & Very Great Promise

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“For all things are yours; … And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21,23

These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping, these are enjoying. As the apostle declares, God hath given “us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the LORD and His service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art.  R. 3734, c.2. p.4.


Reprint No. 3733-3737 of the Original Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence

BLESSEDNESS SUPERIOR TO HAPPINESS.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:1-16

HAPPINESS describes the joyful moods which come to mankind from time to time, but blessedness relates to that permanent joy and comfort which are the result of the attunement of character to harmony with the divine. The people of the world may at times be happy, and at other times downcast, mournful and troubled; but to those who become followers of the Lord Jesus, and who as pupils in the school of Christ are taught of him, there is a peace of God which passes all understanding ruling in their hearts, bringing comfort and rest even under most adverse outward conditions. The lesson we are now considering describes to us the condition of heart necessary to the possession of the peace of God. In proportion as we get before our mental eyes the true conception and then strive to attain that ideal, in the same proportion will be the degree or progress of blessedness which will come into our hearts and lives to rule there and to keep us in the love of God.

Our Lord and his disciples were on an elevated plane of the mountain side, and crowds of people were coming to hear the message of the great Teacher respecting the Kingdom so long anticipated and which he declared was nigh. His miracles had attested his divine authority as a Teacher, [R3733 : page 71] and this drew the people to him “who spake as never man spake.” (John 7:46) …

The teaching was addressed primarily to those nearest to the Lord, namely, his special disciples, the multitude interestedly watching for any items in the address that would specially enlighten them. It must have seemed strange to all the hearers that our Lord did not talk more about the Kingdom itself, explaining when and how it would be established, etc. But he knew that he must first suffer for the redemption of the world before the Kingdom could come and the divine will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. He knew, too, that the first work in preparing for the establishment of the Kingdom would be the gathering of the Church class, the elect, to be his Bride and joint-heir in the Kingdom. His discourse, therefore, was so directed as to divide the hearers into two classes—some would be disappointed because they were interested more in the glories and honors and dignities of the Kingdom hoped for than in the condition of heart necessary to a place in it. These probably went their way saying that doubtless Jesus was a great Teacher to those who liked his kind of philosophy, but to them it was a very dry and unsatisfactory portion.

Others, though disappointed in the character of the teaching, found something in it which satisfied their longings as nothing else could do—found in it nourishment, comfort, upbuilding qualities. The same is true today: some hear the good tidings of great joy with interest merely in those features which relate to restitution. They are glad to know that there is no eternal torment in the divine plan, but that, on the contrary, times of refreshing are coming to the world, and times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.) But aside from this, all discussion respecting consecration to the Lord and terms of discipleship, all descriptions of characteristic conditions that would fit them for the Kingdom, are wearisome to them, distasteful. Thus does the Truth always separate.

“THE POOR IN SPIRIT”

The message of this great Teacher differed from all others, and was especially attractive to the humble, the lowly. Whereas others would have said, Blessed are the rich, the learned, the prominent, the rulers, this great Teacher reversed the matter, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—blessed are those who are not self-conceited, who do not think very highly of themselves, who appreciate their own littleness and imperfection. Astounding! How are such blessed? Surely the world thinks little of those who do not think much of themselves! Surely they will make less progress in the world! Ah, yes! But, says the Master, their blessedness consists in the fact that they are of the Kingdom—of those from whom the Kingdom of heaven class will be selected.

Self-confidence, self-esteem, may win for its possessor a high and honorable place in the present time, but is disesteemed of the Lord; and those who have such a spirit will be the less prepared for the tests and conditions which the Lord will impose in selecting the heirs of the Kingdom, the joint-heirs with Christ. Yes, indeed!—there is a favor and blessedness associated with being little in one’s own estimation: it preserves from many a false step into which egotism would lead. All who are seeking to follow the instructions of the great Teacher, who naturally are poor in spirit, humble-minded, deficient in self-esteem, have much advantage every way over others as respects this particular element of character. And those who are not naturally humble should take heed to the Master’s instruction, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, that they may be exalted in due time. (1 Pet. 5:6.) The Lord’s followers, then, should continually [R3734 : page 71] practise humility and be especially on guard against pride, self-conceit, etc.; they should know on the great Teacher’s authority through the Apostle that God resisteth the proud and shows his favor to the humble, the poor in spirit, to such an extent that only the humble will share with the Lord in the inheritance of the Kingdom.—1 Pet. 5:5; Jas. 4:6.

MOURNERS BLESSED AND COMFORTED

Again it seems strange, contrary to the usual thought, to say “Blessed are they that mourn.” The general thought is that those who mourn are to be specially commiserated. What principle lies behind the Master’s assurance that there is a blessedness connected with mourning? We reply that we cannot suppose that there is mourning in heaven—we must suppose that there is happiness, blessedness there. Hence the blessedness of mourning must in some way relate to our present imperfect, sinful conditions and surroundings. Sin is in the world, and death, the wages of sin, is being paid out to the entire human family, carrying into every home more or less disappointment, sorrow, trouble. Where these are appreciated rightly there must surely be mourning. The world is sick and dying; … he who is “merry” must surely be correspondingly irrational. Who but a foolish person could be merry in the shadow of such a charnel-house! Those who are merry under such conditions give evidence of so wrong a condition of heart and mind that we may know that they will require rigid disciplinary instructions (such as will be accorded to the majority of mankind during the Millennium) in order to bring them to their proper senses.

On the contrary, those who do mourn because of a realization of their own imperfections, their own fallen condition, and who to any extent mourn in sympathy with the poor, groaning creation, these have corresponding advantages because of their saner condition of mind; they will be the more ready for the heavenly message, telling of the glorious blessing that is to come through redemption in Jesus and through his Kingdom, which, as the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, shall bring in health, healing, life and comfort to all the families of the earth. Blessed are these mourners now, because they are in that much more favorable condition to hear the voice of him who speaketh from heaven—speaking peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. They shall be comforted. Their comfort shall not wait either until the new [R3734 : page 72] dispensation of the Kingdom shall be fully inaugurated and bring in the blessings of restitution: their comforting will begin at once, for their mourning will bring a readiness of mind to hearken for the Lord’s favor. So to these he will be pleased to make known something of the riches of his grace and lovingkindness through Jesus. They will have therefore the best opportunity for attaining the peace of God which passeth all understanding through the holy Spirit in this present time, and also in the dispensation to come.

Sorrow may be associated with sin and imperfection. It is proper that we should realize our fallen condition and be sorry for it, but this sorrow may be healed at once through the knowledge of the great redemption sacrifice and through our acceptance of a share in the merit of the same. But there is another sorrow or mourning which is not because of sin but because of sympathy. Our Lord, who was separate from sinners, had this spirit of mourning. It was this mourning in sympathy that led to his tears at the tomb of Lazarus, and the same that led to his being called “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”—Isa. 53:3.

In our imperfect fallen condition, even after our hearts are fully consecrated to the Lord and imbued with his Spirit, it will not be possible for us to enter so fully into sympathy with others as did our dear Master; but we are to cultivate this spirit of sympathy, which is a part of the spirit of love, and the more we grow in grace and in character-likeness to the great Teacher the more we will have of the spirit of sympathy, the more sorrow and mourning will appeal to us.

On the other hand, however, the more we receive of this same holy Spirit proportionately we will have the greater peace, the greater joy in the Lord and the greater rejoicing, because of what we will be increasingly permitted to discern in the unfolding of the great plan of salvation under which all who mourn in Zion shall be comforted. So, then, the most advanced Christians, who have the deepest and most holy joy, should be the ones who at the same time would have the deepest sympathy with mourning and sorrow. Who has not already noticed this, that as our Lord and Teacher is the exemplar of perfection, so those who most nearly imitate him are usually such as have had deep experiences in the school of sorrow and mourning, and in whose hearts and characters deep spiritual lessons and characteristics have been engraved?

The word comfort does not contain the thought of relief, but rather that of strengthen together, or added strength. In other words, the Lord does not propose to take from us that noble quality of sympathy which we receive in the school of experience, but he does propose for all those who become his true followers that they shall be comforted or strengthened together, that he will give them a blessing of strength to endure, which will compensate their mourning and spirit of heaviness. He gives this through the promises of his Word and the glorious hopes which he sets before us, and he gives it also through the living epistles of the dear members of the household of faith. Note how the Apostle calls this to our attention in 2 Corinthians 1:4, where many times over he repeats the thought of our comforting one another with the comfort wherewith the Lord has already comforted us. Oh, what a privilege we enjoy, not only of being comforted by the Lord through his Word, but of being used of him as channels for comforting or strengthening or upholding one another during this mourning time, when some, more than others, have in themselves weaknesses and frailties to cause mourning to themselves and to others. Blessed are those who, being comforted themselves, shall be used of the Lord in the comforting of the other members of his body.

“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK”

The poor in spirit or humble minded, who do not think highly of themselves, are unquestionably the same as the meek, the gentle.

The Century Dictionary defines the word meek as “self-controlled and gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; forbearing under injury or annoyance.” Webster defines meekness as “submission to the divine will; patience and gentleness from moral and religious motives.” As we look about us in the world and note the meek of the earth we do not see them more prosperous than others, and our Lord’s words that such shall inherit the earth would astonish us and seem quite untrue if we did not understand that he referred to blessings beyond the present life. Surely the millionaires of earth, that own the larger portion of it and its riches, valleys and slopes, are very rarely to be counted as the meek. And so we see that the Master did not say, Blessed are the meek, for they do inherit the earth, but “they shall inherit the earth.”

When, Lord?

Answer: When God’s Kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven—then the meek shall inherit the earth. So, then, if we perceive that the rude, the unjust, the self-assertive, are grasping the bounties of earth in the present time, and if we find ourselves rather crowded out because of meekness, let us remember our Lord’s Word that we are especially blessed, and let us cultivate this quality of meekness more and more, and let us not think to exchange it for a spirit of arrogance and self-assertion and vindictiveness, to grasp earthly fame and name and riches. Let us rather be content to cultivate this spirit which the Lord assures us he approves, and let us wait for the time when this class shall inherit the earth. We perceive that the inheritance will be with a view to giving it to the human family under the terms and conditions instituted during the Millennial age. Then the meek of the restitution class will inherit the earth; they will be given the advantage everyway, and eventually all who are not meek will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death.

The meek ones of the Lord’s followers even now in a measure receive the fulfilment of this promise, as the Apostle declared, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:22,23.) These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping these are enjoying. As the Apostle declares, “God hath given us all things richly to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the Lord and his service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art. [R3735 : page 73]

BLESSED THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY

Our Lord refers to two of the most potent influences known amongst men. To what activity will not hunger and thirst spur us? Similarly there is in some a heart-hunger and thirst for that which is right, that which is true. The majority of people evidently do not have much of this hunger of the soul: natural eating and natural drinking are their special attractions. But all are not so, and there is a special blessing for those who have the soul-hunger to which our Lord refers. “They shall be filled”—they shall be satisfied.

Nothing in this promise implies a miraculous filling or satisfying: the thought connected with the illustration rather is that, hungering and thirsting,they will make use of their time, knowledge and opportunities for seeking the bread of eternal life, which satisfies, and the water of life, which truly refreshes; and that in proportion as these are sought and found and used will be the blessing. We have the Lord’s guarantee of the blessing for all who are in the attitude of mind to seek and to use the spiritual refreshments he provides.

Righteousness here applies to right in every matter—Truth. God is the great standard of righteousness, and he communicates it through his Word, his exceeding great and precious promises delivered to us through Jesus and his apostles. The majority of the world, careful for the meat that perishes, think little of the Truth and get little of it; the few hungering and thirsting for it are filled, refreshed, sanctified by it, and in word and in deed and in thought are being fitted and prepared for still further blessings in God’s due time—participation with the Redeemer in the Kingdom and a share with him in the work of blessing and uplifting mankind.

“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL”

Mercy is akin to love, and in proportion as the fall has effaced love from any heart in that proportion mercy will be lacking. Of course we cannot always judge by the outward appearance, as there are outward forms and expressions of love without the heart. So sometimes mercy is extended without the real spirit of mercy prompting it. Sometimes it is to be seen through the recognition of a principle without a sympathy with that principle. The true Christian learns in the school of Christ not only of his imperfections and his need of divine mercy, but having found that mercy and having entered the school of Christ it becomes one of the most important lessons he can learn to extend similar mercy toward others. The Apostle declares that “Mercy rejoices against Judgment”—against the execution of justice. (James. 2:13.) Strange as it may appear, those who have most need of mercy for themselves appear usually to be the ones least ready to accord mercy to the failures of others.

Contrariwise, those who grow most in the spirit of the Lord grow proportionately merciful and compassionate. Some of the Lord’s people have more to overcome in this direction than have others, and may therefore show less development in proportion to their efforts; but the thought should be continually before the minds of all that it is very unbecoming for those who themselves have need of divine mercy to be sticklers in the last degree in their requirements of justice for others, in their refusal to exercise mercy toward others. Not only so, but this lesson which our Lord so frequently emphasized he intensified when he said, You do not from the heart forgive those who trespass against you, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.

… Our mercy must be more than formal, more than an outward forgiveness and reconciliation—it must be from the heart, sincere. In proportion, therefore, as we each realize our need of divine mercy through Jesus, in that same proportion let us be very merciful to others—especially toward the brethren and all who in any sense or degree demonstrate their desire for righteousness.

“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART”

The word pure is very comprehensive—without adulteration, sincere, unsullied. No member of the human family is by nature in this condition. On the contrary, the Scriptures assure us that the heart of the natural man is exceedingly deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9.) The heart in this text and in general conversation is used not as the name of one of the organs of the human system, but as indicating the inner mind, will, intention of the person. As originally created man was the image of God, and hence was then pure in heart, sincere, honest, truthful, perfect-intentioned; but, by reason of disobedience, sin and selfishness have been developed in the human heart and will, and the God-like qualities originally there have been to a considerable degree obliterated. Hence it is that those who become the Lord’s people are said to have a new heart, a new will, new ambitions, new desires. Where the conversion from sin to righteousness is thorough it is truthfully said, “Old things have passed away, all things have become new.”—2 Cor. 5:17.

To accomplish so radical a change of will, of intention, requires a powerful influence. It may be of fear and it may be of love, but we are assured that the results of fear are imperfect, and that only love produces the lasting, perfect, acceptable conditions. Fear may have to do with the beginning of a change of heart, but it certainly cannot carry the conversion to completion, for, as the Scriptures declare, “Fear hath torment,” and the peace of God cannot rule in the heart that is subject to such distress. (1 John 4:18.) Hence the Scriptures set before us the heart conversion which results from the knowledge of God and love for him, saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and again assuring us that “perfect love casteth out fear.”Mark 12:30; 1 John 4:18.

Our Lord’s words intimate that there may be various degrees of impurity of heart, and so we find it: there are some who at heart are really black, devilish; others are drab or gray or speckled. But the Lord singles out the kind of heart that would be acceptable to the Father—the pure in heart. We are all witnesses that we could not claim purity of heart, of intention, of motive, of desire for very many of our friends and neighbors of Christendom, and that so far as we know in the heathen world the proportion would be still fewer. Yet the intimation of our text is that only such as attain to heart purity can hope ever to see God, to enjoy this evidence of his love.

But lest some should be discouraged through supposing that purity of heart means absolute perfection of thought and word and deed, we hasten to correct that thought and to point out that the intention is not always supported by the words and conduct. To will right, to will perfectly, to be [R3735 : page 74] pure in heart, is quite possible, yea, quite necessary to all who would have divine approval; yet how to perform all that they will is sometimes beyond the ability of the Lord’s most earnest followers. The new will, the new heart, must act and speak through the medium of the old body, whose affections are continually in opposition and must be battled against. Hence so long as we are in the flesh, so long as we are obliged to reason, speak and act through the imperfect medium of our fallen flesh, that long will we have need of the merit of Christ to continually cover its blemishes; that thus the new will, the new heart and not the flesh, may be judged of the Lord and tested as to its worthiness or unworthiness of the eternal life and blessings which he has proffered us.

How precious the thought, then, that we may attain to absolute purity of intention, of love, etc., toward all mankind as well as toward the Lord, and that God will thus accept us in his Beloved One, not counting to us the unintentional weaknesses and blemishes which we realize and which others realize perhaps still more than we. How blessed the thought that such will see God, that such have the clearest views of God’s character and plan now, that such shall see him shortly when changed in the resurrection, when they shall have awakened in the likeness of their dear Redeemer.

BLESSED THE PEACEMAKERS

Never was there a time when this statement of our Lord deserved more consideration than at present. We live at a time when envy and strife are in evidence on every hand, amongst all classes, amongst nations, in politics, in business, in homes and families, in nominal churches and amongst the fully consecrated of the true Church. The tendency toward strife is evidently somewhat associated with the strenuous times in which we live; but all the more those who are true members of the body of Christ are to remember the Scriptural injunction, “Follow peace with all men;” and again, “Be at peace amongst yourselves.” (Heb. 12:14; 1 Thess. 5:13.) Some of the best people in the world have the organ of combativeness large, but proportionately they need to have love to control it, so that they shall combat only those things which are evil and injurious, so that they shall think generously, kindly, lovingly of all who take a different view of matters; and while standing always firm for principle, they should take note of the fact that principle enters into remarkably few of their conflicts, contentions, etc.

Each of the Lord’s children should be learning day by day to cultivate the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit, amongst which prominently are patience, long-suffering, [R3736 : page 74] brotherly kindness, love. These things dwelling in us and abounding we shall be more and more pleasing to the Lord and able to assist others in the same direction—to be peacemakers. For who can properly be a peacemaker who is not himself at heart a peace lover?

There seems to be in the majority of humanity a contentious streak, which not only leads the possessor to be quarrelsome and contentious, irritable and irritating to others, but additionally this trait seems in many to be inclined to stir up disturbances in others, when the first principle of decency—minding one’s own businesswould be favorable to peace. As the Lord’s people more and more come to realize the selfishness and quarrelsomeness which the whole world has inherited through sin and depravity, and how this is all opposed to the Spirit of the Lord and of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, love, they should not only strive to develop peace in their own hearts and lives but to be peacemakers amongst men.

“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Yes, truly, the peace lovers, peace promoters, manifest that in this particular at least they are the possessors of the holy Spirit—the Spirit of God. Let us not only merit this title, sons of God, now amongst men who, seeing our good works and peaceable dispositions, will glorify our Father in heaven on this behalf, but let us by the continued cultivation of this same quality of love, under the guidance of the great Redeemer, merit the distinction of being sons of God on a higher plane in the Kingdom.

BLESSED THE PERSECUTED

Not all the persecuted, but merely the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Many bring upon themselves persecutions for foolishness’ sake and for being busybodies in other men’s affairs. Let us heed the Apostle’s word along this line and avoid persecutions or sufferings for evil doing of any kind; but, as again it is declared, if any man suffer as a Christian let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Pet. 4:16.) It is well, too, that we preserve in this matter as in all others the spirit of a sound mind. There are, for instance, some that evidently imagine themselves persecuted when really they are very kindly treated, and are the victims of their own morbid imaginations. The Lord’s people should be so filled with the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude and appreciation that they would be in no danger of erring in this matter. They should be so generous in their thoughts of the motives and intentions of their friends and neighbors that they would be in no danger of misapprehending them and feeling persecuted by those who are really their well-wishers.

As perfect love casts out fear, so also it casts out these false impressions of evil doing or intention toward us. The benevolent heart, full of love for others, will rather prefer to suppose that slights are unintentional oversights, or to put some other similar good construction upon the conduct of their friends, only yielding to an appreciation of persecution when its intention is unmistakable. Even then it should think generously of the persecutor, realize his share in the fall and be disposed to pray for those who despitefully use them and persecute them. Blessed are such ones who thus hold to righteousness and the spirit of love toward their enemies and persecutors, and who may be sure, therefore, that they are being persecuted for their fidelity to truth and righteousness and not for personal idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. Blessed are they, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. The Lord is looking for those who are so faithful to the principles of righteousness that they will exercise it toward their enemies even when being persecuted by them and on its account. If the Kingdom of heaven is for such it is assuredly but a little flock. Let us strive the more diligently to be of that little flockto make our calling and election sure.

REVILED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE

The Lord’s people are not to revile [criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner] each other or anybody under any circumstances, but are to remember that they are pupils, followers of him who when reviled reviled not [R3736 : page 75] again. Whatever evil others may say or insinuate about us we must be faithful to our Teacher and not return evil for evil, reviling for reviling, nor insinuation for insinuation, but contrariwise must speak evil of no man and be pleased to notice and to mention any good qualities which even our enemies may possess.

Our Lord’s words, however, warrant us in expecting that those who will be faithful to him will share his experiences of being evil spoken of. With his words before our minds we should not be surprised at false charges and false insinuations made against his true followers, and that in proportion to their prominence as his servants and followers. The expression, “all manner of evil,” is very comprehensive, while “for his sake,” is worthy of notice. It does not imply that those who strike with the fist or weapon or tongue and who shoot out arrows, even bitter words, will say, We do this to you for Christ’s sake and because you are one of his. We have never heard of any one persecuted in that manner along those lines, and this cannot therefore be what the Lord meant.

What he did mean evidently is that his followers, like himself, honorable, moderate, possessing the spirit of a sound mind, truthful, honest, virtuous, would naturally be highly esteemed amongst the Scribes and Pharisees, the nominally good; they would have a high place, were it not for their fidelity to the Lord and to his Word. Because of loyalty to truths contradictory of popular errors, because of their faithfulness to the Word of the Lord, they are unpopular, and, like the Master, are hated by those prominent in Churchianity. These conditions bring a double test:

(1) They test the adherents of Churchianity along the lines of the Golden Rule, and when they speak evil through malice, through hatred, through strife, through opposition, they are judging themselves, condemning themselves under the Golden Rule, for well they know that they would not wish others thus to speak evil of them;—either through malice or a concocted lie or through hearsay.

(2) It becomes a test also to the faithful ones—Are they willing to endure these persecutions and oppositions cheerfully as a part of the cost of being the Lord’s disciples? If under the pressure they yield and revile in return, and slander and backbite, they are proving themselves unworthy of a place in the Kingdom. If on the other hand they receive these lessons and experiences with patience and long-suffering, these serve to develop in them more and more of the character-likeness of their Redeemer and tend the more to fit and prepare them for a share with him in his glorious Kingdom. Our Lord’s assurance is that those who are thus tested and who stand such a test will have the greater reward in heaven, and reminds them that similar persecutions from the Lord’s professed people came to all the holy prophets of the past.

THE SALT OF THE EARTH

The declarations, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world,” may be very properly applied to such of the Lord’s followers as give heed to his teachings and cultivate the blessed states he has described foregoing. All such blessed ones in proportion as they have attained such conditions are indeed the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt is useful in arresting decomposition, so the influence of these, though they be few in the world, is preservative. Looking back along the aisles of history, we can see that a good influence extended from the Law Covenant God made with Israel.

As the Jews scattered more or less amongst other nationalities they carried with them more or less clear conceptions of the divine standards as represented in the Law, and these wherever they went had a preservative and corrective influence amongst men. But it was Jesus and his higher Law of Love, exemplified in his own life and in the lives of his apostles and all his followers, who became the real salt of the earth, in a period when without it we know not what might have been the result. As it is not only the spot upon which the candle or lamp rests that is enlightened by it, but as the rays extend out in every direction, so is the influence extending from every true Christian. It touches not merely his own person or home but to some extent radiates throughout his vicinity. Similarly it is not merely the spot that is touched by the lump of salt that is preserved, but the influence of that lump spreads over a considerable space round about it, and all with preservative influence.

At the time of our Lord’s first advent the world was in a condition in which it would probably have hastened to degeneracy and corruption, but the introduction of the body of Christ and the beneficial influence extending from each member of that body were potent for the arrest of the demoralizing tendency of the times. The light which shone out from Jesus, the Light of the world, and from his followers, had undoubtedly a beneficial effect upon the then center of the civilized world. That influence is still manifest in so-called Christendom. And even today, although the truly consecrated believers in the great Redeemer are confessedly very few in number, yet the general influence, the saltiness from the teachings of the Savior, exercise a wide influence throughout Christendom. Without this, doubtless, corruption and a complete collapse would have come long ago. In spite of it we see very corrupting and corrupt influences at work in every direction and the wider our horizon, [R3737 : page 75] the more general our information, the more this fact will be appreciated.

Before very long we expect that all of the overcoming members of the body of Christ will be changed, glorified, and the body completed on the other side the vail will be without members on this side. The lights will have gone and the darkness will hold fuller sway than ever; the salt will be gone and the corruption will take hold swiftly, and the result will be the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.

Meantime we are to let our lights shine and thus to glorify the Father, whether men heed or forbear to heed; we are to exercise our salt or preservative influence, our influence for righteousness and truth, whether men hear or forbear, though we clearly see that it is not God’s purpose to enlighten the world through the Church in its present humble position. The matter will test us and prove whether or not we are worthy to be members of the glorified body of Christ, which shortly shall shine forth as the Sun in the glory of the Father, and enlighten the whole world in a manner with which our little lamps of the present time will in no sense compare. [R3737 : page 76]

HO, PRODIGAL RETURN!

“Return, return! thy Father’s voice is pleading,
Thy robe is rent, thy tender feet are bleeding,
Return, my child: a welcome here awaits thee:
Resist the cruel tempter that belates thee,

“Return, return! Thy Father’s loving-kindness
Yet in his touch is healing for thy blindness,
Return in all thy rags of sin’s defilement;
Thy Father’s voice bespeaks his reconcilement:

“Return, return! Thy substance hath been wasted—
Yet art thou longing for the bread once tasted,
Return, for why shouldst thou delay the pardon
Arise and go, before thy doubts shall harden

“Return, return! Leave thou the swine and famine
Why dost thou toil among the husks of mammon,
Return thou to his arms, his kiss, his blessing,
After thy sinfulness and guilt confessing,

“Return, return! The angel-hosts bend o’er thee—
They have beheld the Savior dying for thee,
Return, for he will heal all thy backsliding—
Come, weary soul, rest in his love abiding, 

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