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"A PERFECT MAN,"
[We have been led to the following article through some of our readers expressing a difficulty in receiving the exposition entitled—"That which is Perfect is Come." That difficulty we have taken to the Lord for ourselves, and put the result before our readers.]
"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the
measure of the gift of Christ And he gave some,
apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto A Perfect Mam, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we, henceforth, be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
Some have interpreted the phrase—" unto a perfect man "—in the above scripture, to mean—
Unto the Church glorified with Christ, arguing that the Church is to look for Gifts till then.
For ourselves, we have several difficulties in receiving this interpretation, which we desire, in much love, to humbly submit to our brethren.
1st. The language used by the Holy Ghost is not The perfect man, but "a perfect man." We understand it as having, not a future, but a present meaning. Paul, writing to the Ephesian saints, says the Gifts were given—" Till we [Paul and them] all," individually, "come unto. . . A Perfect Man, unto the measure of the full stature (morally and spiritually) of Christ," "walking even as He walked." (1 John ii.) Paul adds—"That«?«be»o more Children," so that some, with himself, had already arrived at the perfeetness to which he alludes, and when All had, then the gifts would be no more needful, believers simply "speaking the truth to each other in love."
2nd difficulty. As scripture must interpret scripture, what other scripture speaks of the Church hereafter with Christ as a glorified Man? Is it not rather the Lamb and the Bride?
3. But, (perhaps says a brother,)—Does not the Scripture reveal the mystery of the Church being the Body, as well as the Bride, and may not this mystery of the Head and the One Body be referred to in the above expression—"to a perfect man "?
We think not. First, because we cannot find that the emblem of Head and Members or Body is ever used with reference to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church as glorified together.
This latter emblem is only used when reference is made to the Divine union and co-action of Christ and believers Now—Down Here—teaching, as this precious emblem does, the duty of subjection, the fact of dependence, the blessedness of vital union and of being the objects of ceaseless care.
But let the beloved reader prove whether this emblem is used in a temporary, earthward sense only.
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ and make the members of an harlot f" (1 Cor. vi.)
"Which w [now] his body.'' (Eph. i.)
"That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel."
"Edifying of the body." "Increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love." (iii. and iv.)
"He it the saviour of the body [nourisher and cherishor of the church. Just as a man cherishes his own flesh] .. even
so the Lord the church; for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (v.)
But the emblem used in the Word to set forth the relationship of the Church to Christ, when glorified together, is "The Bride, the Lamb's Wife." Not the Body.
This meets the difficulty which many of us have had in holding together the two "mysteries."* And some have endeavoured to show that the Church is not the Bride, but the Body, and that saved Israel is the Bride.
We regard the emblem, therefore, of Head and Members as expressing present, Not future, union and action through us (believers) on earth. Indeed, it is a higher emblem of the more wonderful union of Christ and believers under This dispensation as compared with the union which existed under the Old. Then, it was Vine and Branches: now, it is that—and something more.
When the Lord Jesus gave his disciples the Vine emblem, He was still on earth; the Root and Stem were still in the earth. But now, in bodily presence, the Lord is withdrawn; and the more appropriate emblem is, not the Vine below, but the Head above. We are called to abide, not in the Vine Visible, but in the Head Invisible.
All the members enumerated in the 1st Corinthians express action and Action only; none are indispensable to the Vitality of the Body—ear, eye, smell, foot, hand. The mouth, for instance, as receiving food, is indispensable to the vitality of the body. To speak of a reputed spiritually gifted brother as a "mouth" (as has been done in our hearing) is simply untenable. For suppose a so-called "teacher's" ministrations are not possessed, then, how would the members fare without a mouth? But let those testify to the grace of Christ who, in faithfulness to Him, have had to walk apart.
We press this figure of the "Body," therefore, as setting forth an earthly aspect only,
"Our life is hid with Christ in God"
The Church is not manifested apart from Christ. The true and only Church is not seen and known. The Church is now like Eve, before her separate existence; she was In the Man, and was taken out of the Man. Of us it is written, "we Are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."
"But, when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear With Him in glory."
"So shall we be for ever With the Lord."
As a visible fact no longer in Him, but as the Church the Woman, one—for every one—With Him.
* The word "mystery," as used in the Scriptures, does not mean something hid, bat something that was hid but now revealed.
He will, indeed (our dear and blessed Lord), remain the Head, but in the same sense that—
"Thb Head Of The Woman Is Thb Man." But now, whilo believers are down here, Christ is the Head of the Church, "which is His body."
4. Thus we feel difficulty in harmonising Other Scriptures with the interpretation that the phrase "a Perfect Man," means the glorified assembly of God in union with the Lord Christ.
But a special difficulty arises out of the Passage Itself.
It is this. James uses tho same phrase, and he Twice uses it with regard to practical walk: and he gives it most clearly the simple meaning which we say it has in the above passage in the Ephesians.
Now, why should the phrase when used by Paul mean something very different?
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (i. 4.)
"If any man offend not in word, the same is A Perfect Man, and able also to bridle the whole body." (James iii.)
In the original, the phrase is the same—Teleiob Andros. We must press this fact upon the beloved reader; the Spirit of Truth speaks to us by both.
But further, teleios we cannot find ever used with reference to the Church glorified, but always to
The Lord Jesus thus uses it twice—
"Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
"If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast," &c. (Matt.)
Paul uses it in this sense a number of times—
"Howbeit wo speak wisdom among thorn that arc perfect." (1 Cor. ii. 6.)
"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and completo in all the will of God." (Col.)
"Not as though I had already attained, or wero already perfect, bnt I follow," &c.
"Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect." (Phil, iii.)
"But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age— (Uleioe, perfect)." (Heb. v.)
Thus we see that "a perfect man," was contemplated as possible now, down here.
We find the word sometimes applied to principles, facts, and things: but never to glorification, thus—
"Perfect will of God." "When that which is perfect is come." "Perfect law of liberty." "Perfect lovo."
One of the most important places where this word is used is 1 Cor. xiv. This passage conclusively settles its simple application to moral perfection down here:—
"Brethren, by not children in understanding; howbeit, in malice be ye children [or rather, babes]; but in understanding be men (feleioe, that is to say, perfect.)"
James's "perfect man" is simply a self-controlled man, able to bridle his tongue—more especially in the assembly, occurring, as it does, directly after the exhortation, "Be not many masters" or teachers, * as the word in the original is rendered in Acts xiii. 1; 1 Tim. ii. 7; 2 Tim. i. 11.
PanFe "perfect man" is one who has "put on the Lord Jesus Christ,"—one who is being "conformed to the image of God's dear Son" by the " all • James wrote before "that which is perfect had come."
things which work together" for that special good, (see Bom. viii.); or, as in Eph. iv., (which we are looking at,) he is "a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
The Lord Jesus was indeed "perfect." Now He Is or/R Standard. To the Jew it was said—" Be To perfect, (tekios), even as your Father in heaven is perfect." But to us who believe in Jesus it is said—
"He that saith he abidoth in Him Ought Himself Bo To
WALK, EVEN AS He WALKED." (1 John ii.)
To this perfectness, the Gifts, as the Lord has shown us, were given to bring up believers from heathenism and Judaism.
"Be yo followers [or imitatore) of me, even as lam of Chriii."
"Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wudom,
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, where
unto I also labour, striving according to his working which
worketh in me mightily." (Col. i.)
Paul does not say, "present to Christ," but "present perfect in Christ Jesus "—perfect as followers of Christ—in all the moral perfectness of Jesus Christ. It does not mean that Paul might present believers "perfect" in the glory. The Lord Jesus will present the Church unto himself; (Eph. v. 27.) Paul strove that he might then present—at that time —every man as apprehending the faith in its unity, or entirety, and as possessing a knowledge of the Son of God, and practically conformed to Him. Think of the newly-con verted Philippian jailer and the proud Jew but recently going about to establish his own righteousness, brought to believe in Jesus—and having no New Testament! They needed " Gifts," indeed, to bring them to the understanding of the mystery of Christ and the Church, and to the knowledge of the Son of God, and to conformity to the Man Christ Jesus.
This is the simple meaning of the above passage in the Eplissians. This perfectness of believers was the Aim and Object of the Gifts, Christ being their
But now that "that which is perfect is come," we are each responsible to know all the mind and will of God, having the Scriptures in our hands and the Holy Ghost to unfold them. Spiritual Gifts, being no longer needed, have " vanished away."
We are each responsible, not only to know the truth, but to "speak the truth in love," so that we all may be "knit togother in love," and "grow up into Christ in all things."
The Apostle John, who, writing last of all, regards the Church as having no further need of Gifts, also takes it for granted that beliovers "walk even as Christ walked," "who hath left us an example that we should follow his steps," and who, at all times, spake the truth, and oh, with what love!
We conclude with passages from the 1st Epistle of John, and humbly exhort our brethren to seek to be frequently led of the Spirit into this valuable, lastwritten, and very precious epistle :—
"Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."
"Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not."
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for hi* scod remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is ben of God."
"SEBVE QOD ACCEPTABLY."
"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let Mi have grace, whereby toe may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear : for our God is a consuming fire."
This Scripture is specially suitable as the basis of an exhortation to an attendance at meetings at the times appointed. For our own souls' sake, it is better to be a little earlier than tho time for coming together, in order to engago in silent prayer and communion with the Lord. And, let it be remembered, that for the assembly's sake, every member is bound to take every care to be in the Spirit on coming together, in order to be really helpers, and not hinderors, one of another.
Is it needful to give up anything, in order to be in good time? Then let our willingness to give up be quickened by remembering what we have received—
"A kingdom which cannot be moved."
Then we may well desire to " have [hold fast] grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
Now, coming late is neither "acceptable " to God nor man. Neither is it "reverent;" acting so with respect to an earthly personage would be felt to be very »'r-reverent.
Then we see that we are to serve God, not only "acceptably and with reverence," but with "godly fear." And that because "Our God it a consuming fire."
Though we have come to Mount Sion (not Mount Sinai), yet, as regards the flesh in us, God is ever the same—a consuming fire! If anything of the flesh is upon us, the presence of God will be felt to have a burning effect—burning off from ns all that is of the flesh.
Now, indolence is of the flesh, and if it be allowed in us, we must feel the consequences. But if we be going on with that which is according to God—then there is nothing about us that is consumable. Happy are we, then, when our hearts condemn us not.
But let us not judge one another in regard to this matter: the Lord knows all unavoidable hindrances.
It is blessed to think of Jesus in this respect. As He was wont, " He went early to the temple." Let us hold fast grace, beloved, to " walk as dear children unto all well-pleasing."
2. How Unacceptable, also, is the practice of sending, or aking round a bos, after- the breaking of bread, to every nember of the church! The thought which leads to this >ractice is, doubtless, this—" Everyone in fellowship ought to jive something; so let us afford every member an opportunity if so doing."
Very true; but if the box for the church's offerings bo ilaced at the door, so that all who come in and out must see it, he needful opportunity will be given.
But passing a box round a meeting says more than—" You ught to give." It says, practically, "We expect you to give." md everyone feels that if he did not give those who sit next rould know it. Thus, an element of constraint is introduced.
The consequence is—The jreenets of giving—that beautiful ling—is sadly marred. "Giving" is a fruit unto God; but aw we mar the delicate bloom on the fruit by our rude ealing with it—don't we P
By this practice, "giving" as a duty is pressed at the cpense of freedom. Where this is the case, payments ramble taxes more than freewill offerings, and the church is ade a place for the payment of taxes—PoLL-taxes; that is, ini.thing per head! .
[The principle is true—That we ought to give according to ir ability. But who can tell tho "ability," or pecuniary eans, of his neighbour? There may be no "ability," at the IV-, where we little think it. Suppose the Lord has recently it may be on the way to the meeting—made a special call i- our means. In such a case—and many others—a certain sling of shame may press a gift—no, (we should rather say,) Tax, or Tribute.
Brethren, Let Caesar take tribute, and Caesar only.
But some may Bay—Oh, if we left it wholly to consciences we should not get enough to meet our liabilities."
Ah, is that it? You take such heavy expenses upon you that you cannot walk by faith in regard to meeting them! Oh, let us commit our aftairs to the Lord, and Ho will meet the assembly's needs in His own way. "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.'
Then, let us "walk by faith, Mot by sight" in this matter, and "serve God acceptably."
"A Second Word of Warning to the recent Converts in Ireland on the peculiar doctrines of Mr Darby and Mr Newton. Paul, Paternoster-row. 4d."—With this pamphlet we have received a letter from the author. Neither of the conductors of Precious Truth has any personal acquaintance with, or experience of, the "Brethren's" troubles, and we feel that the late Editor dealt sufficiently with the subject.
Our own souls, we may say, have been refreshed by certain of our brother's remarks on the inconceivable magnitude of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross—remarks which we may be led to transfer to our columns.
"The River Op Life."—A series of papers utterly mystic, based on fanciful interpretations of Old Testament Scripture— most grievous.
"Light In The Dark Valley." 8. W. Partridge. 2d.—A truthful tract, eloquent j rather too eloquent. The power of truth is weakened when we attempt to assist it by a stream of rhetoric The attention is apt to be caught by our beauty, rather than its force.
We regret the writer does not seem to be quite clear that the Christian's "living hope " is the "appearing of the great God, our Saviour Jesus Christ." He who is waiting for the Lord from Heaven is indeed delivered from the bondage of the fear of death.
"Election And Everlasting Punishment."—On this latter subject we think we shall do well to simply hold in its natural meaning the text—" Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels These
shall go away into everlasting [aionios] punishment, but tho righteous into life eternal [aionios]."
"The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." We " are but a feeble folk," and take shelter in the rocks and fortresses of God's Word, which endureth for ever.
. "Is IT HONEST TO ABIDB A MEMBER OP THE CHURCH OP
England f" Macintosh. Is.—A laborious attempt of a true partisan of the English Establishment to justify its liturgies and practices. We require Scripture for everything; this writer gives us logic. Take, for instance, the following—
"The Bible is truth; the Articles accord with the Bible; therefore, the Articles are truth."
"The Articles are truth; the Prayer-book accords with the Articlos; therefore, the Prayor-book is truth.''
By this logic, the Bible, the Articles, and the PrayeT-book are proved of equal weight and value as standards of truth!
Are they P
May tho writer learn with us that "That which is perfect is Come."
"Signs Op Our. Times."—First article very good. We do not fall in with the interpretation put forth in this pamphlet, that the sixth vial is now being poured forth. And think this pamphlet is one of a class whoso tendency is to work up a morbid wistfulness concerning dates—an excitement that may result in a disastrous re-action.
Error.--In our last, page 242, col.l, ten lines from bottom, for "past disappearing," read " fast disappearing."
GATHERING TO THE LORD.
"10, E Row, London.
"Dear Brother,— Perhaps it will bo cheering to my brethren who meet in the name of the Lord to know that a few Christians have lately come out from the systems of the present day, and meet in a brother's house. We are about eight in number. We believe we are led of the Holy Spirit, and if we are to meet elsewhere, the Lord will open a door.
We meet on Lord's Day morning for reading the Scriptures, and in the evening for Worship and Breaking of Bread; and on Tuesday evenings for reading the Scriptures. We can, indeed, say the Lord has greatly blessed us. If it was ever needful that Christians should coino out from the apostate systems, it is now. God bless all who are honouring Him, and who are jealous for His Word and Truth. May we be firm, is the prayer of yours truly in the Blessed Lord, G. C. G."
[Conductors' Note.—It is very natural, Dear Brother, to desire a larger place to meet in. Our views have been fully expressed recently on that point. We indeed regard the following things as desirable—
1st. That the room should be easily accessible from the street.
2nd. That tho outer door should remain open during the meeting.
3rd. That a simple bill or tablet should announce to passersby the times of meeting.
4th. That the brethren would do well to seek to be led to a spot near at hand, at which to preach the Gospel and invite Christians to the Scripture meotings.
Desiring simply the glory of tho Lord, we may well desire, earnestly and confidently, a room sufficiently suitable. Two parlours with folding doors, in a brother's house, is what most naturally directly suggests itself to the mind.
We do well, indeed, to desire not To Shut ourselves up to ourselves. At the same time, we can do nothing of ourselves; but must Wait upon the Lord, to bo Guided and helped of Him. Until He gives us what we think to be better, we must " be content with such things as we have." And thankful, too.
During the winter season, more especially, it would be a most suitable arrangement, if you, and other small Christian fellowships, meeting like yourselves in your neighbourhood, were to hire a schoolroom or hall, say, for one preaching meeting a week. Then, if souls are converted, receiving them into fellowship in your own houses. Hired halls and large places, we remain convinced, are not the safest and best for fellowship of saints, however useful they may be for occasional United Testimony to the world in Preaching the Gospel with the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
The dear Lord glorify Himself in you, in us, in all. Amen]
OUR CORRESPONDENTS AND OURSELVES. Address Letters for the Conductors to 335a, Strand, London,W.C
J. B.—Dear brother, If we Will refer our difficulties to our brethren, instead of taking them to the Lord aud searchingjtho Word for ourselves, do wo not deserve to remain in doubt and darkness P How often, when we have been consulting our brethren, has the Lord allowed us to come away, with our difficulties quije unsettled! We have been thus obliged to take them to 'him, and have found, to our sweet experience, where our strength lieth—even in the Head, kept unshorn of of the glory due to Him. He, "of God, is mado unto us Wisdom," &c. (1 Cor. i.) Do let us hold this Practically. We know a man in Christ who had a difficulty of a social nature like your own—only last week. Remembering the precious assurance of the Lord, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven," this brother went to another dear brother in fellowship, and interested him 'in his case. The two knelt down and asked the Lord to graciously give light from His Word. They arose, and after a little patient waiting the perplexed one was led to a passage. This was read, and, during its reading, light was poured upon the perplexed one's mind like a flood, that met his case in all its bearings. Oh, the blessedness of walking according to the Word! The Lord bless you. "Ye have no need that any WAX teach you."
H. L. R.—Wo thank you, dear brother, but cannot use your kind communication. We are refreshed at the evident joyfulness with which you contemplate tho Coming of the Lord.
J. S.—The days are indeed, as you say, "dark, pitchy dark," with regard to the World and the Professing Woman. But for this we are prepared by that word which tells us things will wax worse and worse, "deceiving and being deceived." WV long, moro and more, to see the dear Lord, face to face. And we feel a confidence that it is so with dear ones generally. But what we do also long for is—that tho Real Church, the True Woman, may be found blameless at His Coming, ceasing to be wilful, to prefer Her own will to tho Lord's. Wilfulness in turning away from the Word, when ministered, is veiy fiainful; if so to us, how much more to the Lord 1 Yet Hi* ove changes not! let not ours, towards those that are Hi*. We are called to fellowship with Him "in enduring all things." He never ceases, either, in washing the Church with the wattr of tho Word ; in this respect, also, may we have fellowship with Him, with all patience and longsuffering. But it is fin work, not ours. If Ho uses you or us, in any measure, to UV blessing of saints, to Him be all the glory. If our efforts at any timo fail, or rather stem to fail—nevertheless, He is glorified in us. To Him be all glory for ever and ever. Amen.
T. C.—Very dear brother, the Lord iB pleased and is glorified when dear ones hold fast grace under affliction. '' Many arc tho troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." "No chastening for the present Beemeth joyou;, but grievous, nevertheless afterward it worketh the peaceal 1> fruits of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby." Our afflictions aro often blessed to others also. We join in your prayers that blessing may abound towards the dear children ol God, and that all may bo brought into a patient waiting for the Morning Star. Amen to that prayer, doubtless says evenreader.
Header, Torquay.—"The Link Broken" is published by Houlston and Wright, 3d. We should like to hear from you.
J. C. A., J. H., C. R. stiU postponed.
Notice.—In regard to our suggestion that one of the larger and better kind of biscuits would be found a readilyavailable form of unfermented bread for a small gathering, a remark has reached us, that almost all biscuits are fermented. Upon enquiry, however, we find that this is Not the case. But anyone can teU for himself. If the body of the biscuit i» spongy and light, then fertnent has been used. But if it be of a close solid character, oven though there bo " air-blisters" or. the surface, then it is tmfermented.
NFOLDINGS OF THE WORD OF TRUTH.—Being tr lected contributions to "Precious Truth." Is. Cloth. 160 pp. A Neat Gipt Book. Contents—
1.—A Scene near Bethany 1
2.—Hinereh and Modern Nation* 7
3.—Barabbas and Simon the Cyrenian 11
4.—Mary that Anointed the Lord 18
6.—John the Baptists Failure 25
6.—Ere and the Bride of Christ 33
7.—A Prejiguration of the Testimonies to Christ . 39
8.— Words of Warning—(blank verse) 41
9.—The Eire Thousand Fed :. 56
10.— The Church's l'ath and the Church's Mope . . 63
11.—The Four Thousand Fed 67
12.—The Feast of Pentecost and the Sour of Eraycr . 72 13.— The Lord Jesus Christ in the Sphere of Brotherhood 83
14.—The Judgment Seat of Christ 90
15.— Words of Warning, \Part II.) 99
16.—James, the Son oj Alphaus 104
17.— Can Faith Save Him > . . .' 110
18.— The Church the Woman—I. Dependent, 2. Veiled,
3. Modestly Attired. 132
21.—The First and Second Loves 136
22.—The Vine and Branches 141
23.—Th» Church which wan at Jerusalem .... 145
24.—Kept by the Power of God 159
BATEMAN, PATERNOSTER ROW. HEYWOOD, STRA.V
~~"~ Printed by Joan Xyaks, 335a, Strand, Loatab
With this number is finished a volume of this Journal, consisting of 33 numbers.
It was with no desire of ours that the conducting of Pbeciotjs Truth came into our hands. But as that has occurred, we hope to continually look to the Lord to help us, as He has hitherto.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. vi. 12.)
We are not teachers. We should be sorry any more to speak of the need of teachers, as though the Holy Ghost needed the helping out of man f
We are only responsible to speak our simple convictions before the Lord, and pray you to read our pages simply as the testimony as a brother.
Recently the dear Lord has given us much manleveling truth. Unto the dust must man be brought before God can be exalted.
"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.'1
N.B.—Copies of the Title Page and Contents of Vol. I. can shortly be had for binding up, gratuitously, by Subscribers, on application to Brother Bateman or Messrs Hey wood & Co.
The Church is waiting for the Lord from heaven (1 Thess. i.) Saints departed are sleeping, resting in Jesus, waiting for us. (1 Thess. iv.) Saints of old, sleeping with their fathers (IKingsii. 10), are waiting for a "better country, that is, a heavenly," (Heb. xi. 16.) After the withdrawal of the Church, a contrite remnant of Israel, believing that Jesus was and i9 the King of the Jews, will wait His return (Zech. xii. ) Yea, even now the whole earth is waiting and groaning to be delivered from the evils resulting from Satan's sway (Rom.viii.22,23)
In a very different sense, lost souls, "spirits in prison," are awaiting the judgment of the "great white throne" (1 Pet. iii. ID; Rev. xx. 12). Lost angels, having sinned, and being "cast down to hell, and delivered into chains of darkness," are waiting, "being reserved unto judgment" (2 Pet. ii. 4). This place seems to be the "deep," into which the "Legion " craved not to be sent.
"THE SEVEN STARS ARE THE ANGELS."
"The Seven Stars are the Angels of the Seven Churches: and the Seven Candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven Churches." (Rev. i.)
Dear Christian Reader,—What thought have you hitherto held as to what is the meant by the Stars or Angels? Have you received any one of the current doctrines? They are, all of them, unsatisfactory. Let us look at each of them, before we present that which, we are confident, is the true interpretation.
1. First, then, the most common doctrine is, that the "angels" of the churches are "the ministers of the churches." This is the meaning which the translators have themselves supplied, and inserted in the italic chapter-head or contents of Rev. ii. But while thankful to them, (but chiefly to the Lord the Head of the Church,) for their labours in rendering the Scriptures into the common tongue, it becomes us to remember that there are things "hidden from the wise and prudent, but rovoaled unto babes." And this—may be one of them.
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men." (I. Cor. iii.)
Now this first interpretation—that the " angels" are "ministers"—necessarily leads to glorying in men. It is impossible to have the idea that we have an "angel " among us without glorying in him.
But, again, this custom of having one man as a "minister" in each church, is nowhere to be recognised in the Acts of the Apostles or the Epistles to the various churches. This practice may have— nay, must have—arisen very early after the apostles' time; but the fact is denied by none, that no such practice as a one-man ministry was setup, and recognised, and its perpetuation provided for, by the Apostles.
On the contrary, what M seen is plurality of elders and liberty of ministry. Saints should, therefore (being desirous of acting according to the blessed Word of God) gather to the Lord—gather together in His name—and depend upon Him to minister to them by the Holy Ghost through whomsoever He will. This is "walking by faith, not by sight."
This way of meeting simply in the name of Jesus, in full confidence in His assured presence, had been utterly lost to the Church many centuries before the