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so that it acts in all its intensity, moved by the power of that nearness. But if we consider the action of the Spirit, these thoughts are confirmed. The righteous man does not grieve the Holy Ghost, and the Spirit works in him according to His own power, not having to set his conscience right with God, but acting in the man according to the power of His communion.
Finally, we have the assurance that the ardent and energetic prayer of the righteous man has great efficacy: it is the prayer of faith which knows God and counts upon
Him and draws near to Him. The case of Elijah is interesting, as showing us (and there are other examples of the same kind) how the Holy Ghost acts inwardly in a man where we see the outward manifestation of power.
In the history, we have Elijah's declaration: “ The Lord liveth, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." This is the authority, the power, exercised in the name of the Lord. In our epistle, the secret opera. tion, that which passes between the soul and God is set forth. He prayed, and God heard him. We have the same testimony on the part of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. Only that in the latter case, we have the two together, except that the prayer itself is not givenunless in the unutterable groan of Christ's Spirit.
Comparing Gal. ii. with the history in Acts xv., we find a revelation from God which determined Paul's conduct, whatever outward motives there may have been, which were known to all. By such cases as those which the apostle proposes to the Church, and those of Elijah and the Lord Jesus, a God, living, acting, and interesting Himself in all that happens among His people, is revealed to us.
There is also the activity of love towards those who err. If any one departs from the truth, and they bring him back by grace, let it be known that to bring back a sinner from the error of his ways is the exercise-simple as our action in it may be—of the power that delivers a soul from death ; accordingly, all those sins which spread themselves in their odious nature before the eyes of God, and offended His glory and His heart by their presence in His universe, are covered. The soul being brought to God by grace, all its sins are pardoned, appear no more, are blotted out from before the face of God. The apostle (as throughout) does not speak of the power that acts in this work of love, but of the fact. He applies it to cases that had happened among them ; but he establishes a universal principle with regard to the activity of grace in the heart that is animated by it. The erring soul is saved; the sin is put away from before God.
Charity in the Church, suppresses, so to speak, the sins which otherwise would destroy union, and overcome that charity in the Church, and appear in all their deformity and all their malignancy before God. Whereas, being met by love in the Church, they go no farther, are, as it were, dissolved and put away by the charity which they could not vanquish. The sin is vanquished by the love which dealt with it, disappears, is swallowed up by it. Thus love covers a multitude of sins. Here it is its action in the conversion of a sinner.
1 CARON. XXI.
It is most lovely to see the way in which David takes refuge in God at the very time His hand was upon him in chastening. He had been away from Him for months, whilst the numbering was going on. But God loved His child, and cannot suffer him to be so at a distance. So He must make him feel his sin. And now David finds that he has to do with God. How the thought of God, and of our personal dealing with Him, throws light on all our ways! For alone with Him must the state of our souls be settled. But never is God more precious to His people, than when Himself their refuge against the sin which He must bring to their remembrance, and visit.
1.-COLOSSIANS i. 24.
“I (Paul) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for His body's sake, which is the church-(Col. i. 24). People suppose that Christ's sufferings were only for and in making atonement. This is a great mistake. The atonement took place at Calvary; and, though the most awful part of His course, only occupied three hours.
In truth, He suffered not only the wrath of God due to my sins in His own body on the tree, but when He came into the world, He came to display God by His sufferings in humiliation; and all through His course He learnt obedience by the things that He suffered; so that, in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.
There are two kinds of suffering which the believer now, in his measure, enters into: 1. Directly God was manifest in the flesh, He became the open book in which God was revealed, and in which those who knew aright about God saw the object of their worship.
The babe born (Luke ii. 7) to shepherd's keeping watch over their flock by night "lo, the angel of the Lord came," etc. (ver. 9—12) "and then suddenly ther was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," (13, 14).
When He came to His public service, and stood in the water to be baptized of John-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost could be set forth together. The Son in the water, the Spirit descending on Him, and a voice proclaiming from on high:,,- This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” When He came to the trans
figuration, He is again greeted from on high: “ This is my beloved Son, hcar ye him." And all this before atonement was commenced. But the glory that gave abroad its fragrance was the marvel of God manifest in the flesh. The Creator tabernacling in the flesh of the holy, harmless, undefiled seed of the woman. But this glory was not separable from the humiliation, from the incarnation.
Answering in its place to this, we get the truth of the church used of God while in the wilderness, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God,” (Eph. iii. 10).
What a difference, when we take our sorrows, our trials, our afflictions, bereavements, needs, temptations, etc., merely as the sorrows of humanity in its present fallen state, and when we take them as parts of our testimony to principalities and powers in heavenly places. "Why should I linger here," said a saint, “ I am of use to no one-whom can I serve, and what can I do?" The answer was: “ Angels and principalities have been eyeing with wonder, that such a thing as you seem to be should have so much of the attention of Christ, be so much thought about in heaven; they look at you and then confess that mercy and compassion, pity and grace, are very real, very substantial things in God. That the Christ ascended and glorified should bear such an one upon His heart and mind."
But 2ndly: The Son, who had been the object of worship and to whom all were subject, came into the world, and learned obedience by the things that He suffered. With this He blended that learning of sympathy as a sufferer. God stooped from governing all things to learn obedience.
Poor Paul had to learn obedience in another sense. Never at the head, but a rebel against the Head, he had to learn to set aside his bad will, and to be meek and lowly of heart. But the lessons which Paul had, not only bowed his own soul to the blessed Lord Jesus who was in very nature, as seed of the woman, meek and lowly of heart, but also his lessons were for the elect's sake. God tauglit him, Paul, that he might be able to teach those who are members of the body of Christ. This, too, gives strength to the soul under trial of any kind, to be able to say, “ Well, not only am I sure that I want discipline myself, but my gracious Lord is teaching me, both how He was the prince of sufferers, in order that we all might find an answer to our sufferings in Him, and is teaching it to me, too, for the sake of His body which is dear to Him, that I may be able to comfort" others with that comfort wherewith I myself have been comforted of God."
2.-HEAVEN, EARTH, AND HELL. The Son of God has undertaken, as to the heavens and as to the earth prepared for man, to purge out every mark and stain of 'sin, and to fill them with a new energy and power, viz., of the Holy Ghost. This redemption of the whole world, as a system, is emphatically His work; and assuredly it is a work that none but He could accomplish. The system of this world, as a whole, does not embrace the universe, nor all the men that have been on the earth, nor all the angels that have been in heaven. There is hell (originally prepared for the devil anu his angels
) open for those men who prefer the service of him, who, in rebellion against God, is a liar and a murderer from the beginning, to the service of that meek and lowly Jesus, the Redeemer, who-the Son and servant of God --is full of grace and truth.
. May we, as saints, be carried in the current of this work of the Son: My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
3.-"MINE OWN WAYS." THERE is nothing so sweet to a man as his own way. will have my own way,” is the language of the natural heart both young and old. And it shows itself both in worldliness and religiousness. “The way of Cain" was his own way: and the many unscriptural ways of God's people, whether in public or private, are only so many indications of self-will. These things call for self-judgment, "for if we would judge ourselves we should not be