I feel strongly that one has to cast oneself on the Spirit of God, for speaking of mere circumstances sometimes creates difficulty. I would say that it has struck me, where the King is spoken of, the bride is Jerusalem; when the Lamb is spoken of, the bride is the heavenly Jerusalem. Of course, there are many analogous principles in both. Psalm 45 is entirely about the King’s wife—the Revelation entirely about the Lamb’s. Assuredly there is a good deal of interest in seeing the different characters of blessing in their relationships.
I see two grand characteristics in the Lord’s dealings: the one that of righteousness, as it is said, “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the upright”; and the other grace. Not that in His dealings in grace He gives up righteousness, but righteousness, simply as righteousness, could not be to sinners; for they needed grace, which is maintained in righteousness in the Lord Jesus. The position of the church, as knowing divine righteousness in Him, comprehends the character of grace.
I see this distinction going on all through. In Isaiah 60 we have the King and the bride. God could not identify Himself with His people Israel when they failed in their responsibility to Him, and He cast them off; but when, in Isaiah 60, we see them in the stability of glory, their iniquity having been forgiven and carried away into the land of forget-fulness, “the sons of the strangers are to build their walls, and the nation and kingdom that will not serve them are to perish,” etc. They will exercise dominion, but not in grace; power is mentioned in the seat of righteousness at Jerusalem. This made the apostle cry out, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his ways, and his judgments past finding out!”
He saw Jerusalem to be the place, properly speaking, of righteousness, and yet if God had received the Jew on his own proper ground of righteousness without Christ, it would have been unrighteous, for they were transgressors. But they rejected the Messiah and hated the gospel to the Gentiles, and this brought out the fulness of their iniquiry, and if God concluded all in unbelief, it was thus that God might have mercy upon all. The just “as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also not now believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy,” has been brought forward to prove that through the mercy of the church the Jews are to come in. But it should be rendered, “even so have these also now not believed in your mercy, that they also may be the objects of mercy.” They would not believe in the Gentiles’ mercy, and are themselves therefore made the objects of mercy. Even the Jew, who stood on the principle of righteousness, comes in on the ground of mercy.
We see how different the character of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is from that spoken of in Isaiah 60. In the first place, of the former it is said, the nations [of them which are saved] shall walk in the light of it, etc.; not only light goes out from it, but life and grace are its characteristics. The fulness of the love and grace of Christ is expressed in His receiving the church, and it becomes His helpmeet in expressing His grace in that day. In the second place, of the latter it is said, “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted,” Isa. 60:12.
As regards the heavenly Jerusalem, it is not righteousness maintained in power, but grace that will be its characteristic. There is nothing more instructive than taking that which is to be the character of the heavenly Jerusalem, and comparing it with that of the church now. We ought to be now anticipating what we shall become actually in the day when the Lord gives us glory. Nothing that denies was to enter into that heavenly city: the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations, etc.—this should be the character of the church now, purity, love, and grace towards the world. Our place is just that of drawing down now the character of grace that will be displayed in the glory. We do not see in the heavenly Jerusalem the security of righteousness exhibiting itself in power against others, but in grace. Paradise knew nothing of grace; innocent men might live in it; but there was no tree of life there for those who had failed. We read that “the streets of the city were pure gold.” Gold is that which the mercy-seat and girdle were made of. Righteousness is the very walking place of the saints there. Instead of its defiling us, as the world does now, and making our feet need the washing of our High Priest, the very place on which they walk will be the righteousness of God. “Transparent glass” denotes true holiness. The character of the divine purity is aimed at in the laver, ministering death and resurrection. Then the place of our conversation, that on which we stand and walk, will be righteousness and true holiness. In us the world will see that glory which we shall see immediately. “Every several gate was of one pearl.” They will discern in us then the beauty and comeliness which Jesus will have put on us.
We read of the church under the character of a goodly pearl, which the merchantman finding sold all that he had for it. Its comely beauty is thus exhibited, and its desirableness to the merchantman, which made him willing to sell all that he had for it; and Christ, for that loveliness with which God clothed the church, did the same. The doorway of the city has the character of grace in the flowing forth of the river of the water of life. Here are no plagues and curses. It is most profitable to bring the light of the glory of the coming dispensation to the circumstances in which they are, so that the character of that light may be expressed in these circumstances. In the case of the Jews who walked in the light of the coming dispensation, those who had faith and hope in that which was not present, and who thus obtained a good report through faith, brought in the energy of the divine thoughts into their circumstances, though walking obediently to the dispensation they were in.
I would refer to a passage in Psalm 145, speaking of the blessing of that day, where we have brought before us the blessing of the saints on earth when Messiah takes His place in the kingdom; a conversation between Messiah and the Jewish saints in that day, stating what their happiness will be, etc. The deliverance of Israel, and God’s dealings with them, will make them competent to declare His acts to the people which shall be born. Messiah and His saints speak these things together, and they tell the nations what their God is (vers. 11, 12); and then we have the character of the kingdom. Israel’s business will be that of learning the character of God, to make it known to the Gentiles; and this should be the business of the saints now. The world cannot know God, but we are called to be the “epistle of Christ, known and read of all men.” The church has to be Christ’s letter of recommendation to the world. The church, being made a partaker of grace, can rise above all law-demands. Innocence could not do this. There was no healing-tree in the garden of Eden, but, the church being made partakers of grace now, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The greatest part of the church’s blessing consists in being united with the Lord Himself. It is not merely that it is glorified and loved, but the Father loves us as He loves Jesus. The best proof of this love is that He has given Jesus for us. That love which is brought out through the glory associates the church with the Son: He comes in the glory, and the glory which it will have is consequent on love. The source of the glory which will be displayed is more blessed even than the manifestation of it. It is blessed to be manifested in favour; and why? Because the favour of the person is precious to me. In John 17:23 the Lord prays that the world may know that “thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” While the Lord has obtained all for us, yet, when He comes to give His bride her glory, He does not say that it is a proof that He has loved her; but, in the blessed self-hiding of love, He says that it is the Father’s love: “and thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” This is exceedingly blessed and beautiful. The Lord gives witness before the world, not that He loves her, for this was shewn in the necessity of her sinfulness. There is nothing more precious than the love between the church and Himself; but to the world He exhibits the church as loved by the Father, which gives it honour, not in connection with sin and shame. We see the same principle brought out in the history of the prodigal son, however touching that love may be between the ruined sinner and the Father, which causes Him to fall on his neck and kiss him; yet before the servants He takes him home in honour, with the best robe on, and the ring on his hand, etc.
We have to understand the depth of the love of Christ in meeting the sinner. This brings out the costliness of His love; but there is something besides this. When He loved the church before the world, it is as the Father’s giving her glory, and taking delight in her. The love of our Lord Jesus is perfectly blessed, touching, and considerate towards us; there the heart’s affections learn to delight in Him. I would now merely refer to one passage, Ephesians 5:27, “that he might present unto himself a glorious church,” etc. As God took Eve, and presented her to Adam, so the last Adam will present the church unto Himself. There will be all the divine delight in doing it. The church is called the Lamb’s wife, because He suffered for her. It is impossible without suffering to bring out the fulness and savour of love.
The heavenly Jerusalem is shewn [in Rev. 21] to be really of divine source, “descending out of heaven, having the glory of God.” When we think about sin, without reference to the glory of God, we come short of a right estimate of it. The moment we have tasted of the “glory of God,” compared with this everything is sin. The blessing of the church must not come short of this glory. The Father has loved the church and given it to the Son. The bride is taken out of Christ (as shewn in Gen. 2 if not Psa. 139:15, 16), and has the “glory of God.” Man, having got the knowledge of good and evil, must either be miserable in using knowledge against God, or by faith rise above the evil as God is above it. Hence it is this which is the place of the church in union with Christ, and grace is wrought into glory. We see that “the glory of God did lighten it,” and that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it, not the Father. While God unfolds Himself in His various characters, in His wisdom, in different dispensations, the very place of the worship of the church is that which is the whole display of God’s wisdom and power: “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” In Ephesians 3:21 we read, “unto him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end.” This seems to raise the church as the crown of all dispensations, set up as over, and the link of God with, all dispensations. The glory will then be His: “to him be glory in the church,” etc., according to the power which worketh in us.
In revealing God there are three great characters in the dispensations: first, that of Almighty; then of Jehovah; then that of Father. The apostle, in 2 Corinthians 6, speaking of the place of the church as being separate from the world, says, “wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This was the first character in which God manifested Himself in dispensation; but at this time God Almighty did not say, I am your Father. The very principle and essence of this present time is that God is revealed in the character of Father. Jehovah and Almighty are not the proper relations of God to us. When the glory comes, there will be the full perfection of everything: “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.” The Lord God Almighty as concerns the glory, and the Lamb as having brought us into security through His sufferings, are united. For eternity, in chapter 21:1-8, it is simply, “the glory of God did lighten it,” etc. We have nothing about the Lamb after the millennium: the bride, the Lamb’s wife, will be His helpmeet, as the minister of grace, and God is the Most High.
I would now turn to the question of Messiah’s kingdom. There is a difference between the state of things in which there is a King reigning in righteousness, and “the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” If it dwells there, there is no need for rule. When there is a liability to evil, we want power to secure good. During the millennium there will be the King reigning in righteousness—not merely dominion in righteousness, but securing righteousness by power. I distinguish between the states of “dwelling” and “reigning.” The time when God will be all in all will be analogous to that of paradise in its character; the millennial time, to that of Noah’s power, though there will be a great deal of the Adamic power brought in. Noah, if he had been faithful to the power given him, would have had a great deal of the Adam blessing; but he failed entirely, and then failed family discipline. The character of millennial blessing on earth will be the security of righteousness by power. But when “God shall be all in all,” the new Adamic character of Christ will be displayed over a new creation, and all evil will be done away: “the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and he will dwell with them; and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be their God.” Therefore on the incarnation the heavenly host sounded, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward [or, in] men.” But when the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the word was, “Peace in heaven.” If Christ takes His place over earth and heaven, there must be peace between God and the people on the earth.
Then, as to the scriptural phrase “for ever,” there are one or two points on which I would speak. I do not acquiesce in the alteration of that passage in Hebrews 10: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” I believe it is right as we have it in some Bibles—the comma after “for sins,” not after “for ever.” It does not refer to the length of the time that He sits there, but to the fact that Jesus is not as those high priests who stand daily offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin, but that He has sat down, as the continuous evidence of the perfection of His sacrifice, that the believer might have always a purged conscience. This is the force of the passage, and not that He is perpetually in heaven.
I see distinctly, in regard to the saints as to Christ, that they shall reign for ever and ever. It is not said with Him for ever, but more generally as regards His reigning for ever. I see distinctly in Daniel 2:44 the same thing presented as in the passages which have been quoted, namely, the merging of the human character into the divine perpetuity of the kingdom; not looking at the King in relation to the speciality of the kingdom as to the necessity of its continuance, but shewing the blessing of supremacy that belongs to Him as Lord. In regard to the quotation in Ezekiel, it must be taken in a modified sense, because it is about Israel, a mere question of generations in the land; “your children’s children shall dwell in it for ever.” Now the very elements—not the earth only, but the elements—are all to melt. The kingdom of the Lord God of Israel shall not be destroyed. They are but witnesses for an appointed time that Jehovah reigns.
I will now turn to 1 Corinthians 15. It does not refer to Messiah’s kingdom down here. The kingdom that is to be given up refers to that spoken of in Psalm 8. Here is the question of all things being put under man’s hand. When judgment comes, the Father (we read) judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Thus the Son has a sort of independent kingdom. In the Person of the Lord Jesus God has set man over the works of His hands. Is this title in Christ now? Yes, and the church owns the title, while the world does not; but if He were to take the power, He must exercise it in righteousness. In the sense spoken of we own Christ as reigning, but not as sitting on His own throne. Psalm 109 describes the rejection of the Lord, and His deep humiliation. In Psalm no Jehovah says to the Son, “Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” He shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. His kingdom comes at His appearing. This is a question between man and God, not the question as to Messiah’s kingdom. Does He deliver up the rule as man when He appears? Clearly not; but He must reign until His enemies be under His feet, till He has put down all rule and all authority and power. His enemies are not yet put under Him, though the Father has put all things under His feet in title now.
But you must recollect that Satan is to be let loose at the end of the millennium, and fire comes down from heaven, and devours those whom he deceives. If death, as has been said, will be used to destroy the enemies, still this proves that there must be enemies to be destroyed, and we must look to something afterwards to render death void; as to the saints, we know that it is rendered void. The apostle, in this chapter, drops anything but the resurrection of Christ and the saints. When all things shall be subdued, then the Son, as man, the Last Adam, shall be put in subjection at the end. It will not be then man governing the world, but man will be done with, and God (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) will be all in all. God shall wipe away all tears. Nothing about the Lamb; the mediatorial character will be then removed.
I separate entirely Messiah’s kingdom from the bride, though both are most blessedly connected. His glory will shine upon the earth, and the nations will see the glory in us; we shall see it in the Lamb. Seeing Him as He is, we shall be made like Him. We shall have nothing to do with the destruction of the Beast; Christ will not be revealed as Prince of princes, but as the Lord from heaven. In the description of the Beast, in Isaiah 14, we have first his human love of power: then thou hast said, “I will ascend into heaven,” etc. He takes every character of Christ, and asserts that he has it. The Son of man, who is in heaven and from heaven, comes down in power, and puts down this man, and people must then believe that Christ is King; Messiah’s kingdom will not, in its full sense, be established then. The character of the rule of the Beast is that the pride and power of His kingdom proceeds from self, and God will shew man’s will to be a horrible lie against His power, and prove the truth of that word, “by me kings rule”; but Antichrist cannot be touched till his iniquity is full, and he says, I will go up to heaven, I will be like the Most High; and, therefore, because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.
I believe there will be a testimony of remission of sins preached in the name of Jesus, the instrument of the Holy Ghost to effect a penitence, an Elias ministry that will draw out the hearts of the remnant after Him, something similar to that described in the Song of Solomon; then, when they have looked on Him whom they have pierced, they will mourn because of Him. Whilst Antichrist rages, they are preserved. Israel is brought up through the wilderness, and they appoint themselves one head, and great shall be the day of Jezreel. In this David-reign of Christ He has also to subdue the enemies that are in the land; and after the Assyrian comes up and is destroyed, the indignation is over and will cease. Thus Christ is associated with Israel and begins to secure the earth, while the gospel of the kingdom goes out to the nations; after this the Son of man sits upon the throne of His glory, and judges the nations according to the manner in which they have treated His messengers. Messiah having thus established His kingdom, there is peace, and then the heathen know that Jehovah He is God.
I would here remark that all the nations mentioned in Genesis 10 are comprehended under the two powers, Gog and the Beast; and it is remarkable that the nations are now arranging themselves just according to the order which scripture describes, though I would not speak as the oracle of God as to their identification with present circumstances. The Lord may hold back His hand, but I believe it hastens greatly. In Isaiah 18 is described the land shadowing with wings, spreading its protection over other nations; indeed the whole chapter is a distinct account of what will happen to Israel at the time of its restoration. Many details are given elsewhere.
There is a little confusion sometimes as regards the instruments of power. The promise to the saints is that they shall reign with Christ as kings; but when Christ takes the earth, it will be as Prince of Judah. It is also written, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? “We find the blessings of the world secured by righteousness and true holiness—heavenly rule. The saints may accompany Christ in glory when He comes to judgment, but His robe will be red, theirs white. Though the saints are with Him, they are the executors not of vengeance, but of grace that sustains all righteousness.
As to the third part of the question, let me say that these words, “differ essentially,” must refer to the standing of the saints; for, as to the ground on which any man is a saint, there cannot be any difference. The development of the character of God does alter in different dispensations, but we know His character can never alter. For instance, take sanctity: God is known in this character, whether it be among the Jews, or in the church; and two cannot walk together except they are agreed. Fellowship may not have the same external form, but it must have been the same principle. The Lord Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” and the Spirit of Christ is the same. This is always the ground on which there is dealing on the conscience. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” The principle is essentially the same, before the flood, after the flood, and at any time. Holding fast these things is very important. Certain things that we have learnt from God become necessary principles in all dispensations; but as to the character and form in which they are developed, they are different, save that this great principle is the same. Sin having come in, there must be grace, and there must be righteousness.
As to the difference of the saints’ calling, therefore on the earth during the millennium, it will be quite different from that of the saints now on earth, for the obvious reason that the millennial dispensation, as regards the saints on earth, will be a dispensation of judgment. In one sense it was grace to the Jew, yea, even in paradise. There can be no dealing with the sinner except in grace; but the Jewish economy is not one of grace, but of the law. The law is of works, but grace is not. There never can be departure from the principle on which the soul can stand with God, but the economy of a special time is a different thing. The economy of the church is judgment within itself. The church consists of persons separated by internal sanctity from the rest of the world. Into the church’s outward forms a person may enter, but the church is essentially an assembly of separated persons. The moment it is not, it ceases to be a church. It consists of those whom God has called out of the world. In the millennium it will not be so, inasmuch as the Lord Jesus will manifestly govern the world on another principle; until Satan is loosed again, there is no necessary manifestation of who is not of the world, and who is; but the character of the church is quite different.
When persons speak of an invisible church, it is merely the assertion of apostasy, for the Lord says of the church, “Ye are the light of the world.” Now what is the good of an invisible light? “No man when he had lighted a candle,” etc. (Luke 11:33). I do not say that there are not invisible saints as individuals; but the term, “invisible church,” conveys no other idea to my mind than that of apostasy, and that the church has ceased to be what the Lord set it to be—the light of the world. The church is to be a distinct, manifested, gathered body, while the world is under the dominion of Satan; and in this dispensation is that special manifestation of the church. The Lord gave Himself to gather together in one the children of God scattered abroad on the face of the earth. This oneness can only be maintained through the power and energy of the Holy Ghost. Wherever the Holy Ghost has been grieved, the church has ceased to fulfil in the world what it was sent for; though God’s purposes cannot be altered. Then the church is not one, and the world does not believe that the Father has sent Jesus. The church will be displayed in the glory that has been given them, that by their being one the world may know that the Father has loved them as He loved Jesus. This will be known in the millennium. Then it will not be the Holy Ghost working secretly, as He does now, but the manifestation in the world of God’s reign in righteousness.
The proper duty of the saints now is by secret association with Christ to withstand evil, that they may be fashioned in suffering and grace with Christ. There all the fine traits of fellowship with Christ are brought out, “the trial of your faith,” etc. The vessel of earth being put into the furnace, it shines forth, when it comes out, with all that was in its Master’s mind. In the millennium we shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father, and the government be of the Son of man. A new nature is always necessary to fellowship with God. The man who is taught of God knows that his old nature is bad, learning by experience “that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” The knowledge of this principle I believe the Jewish believer had, and he had a new nature above the dispensation. If he could say, I delight in the law of God after the inner man, then he had a new nature and the Spirit of Christ, as the apostle says, though he might not get beyond the standing of the dispensation; but in the millennium it will not be merely that man born again will be a new creature, but the creation itself will be also new; Satan will not then be corrupting it by our lusts. Now the whole creation is subject to vanity, then it will not be so. Still, man will exist in nature, but the whole creation will not be actually subject to vanity. We are subject to vanity as to the fact of man’s will in it, and the consequent dominion of Satan over it. When permitted, he could bring down a great wind on Job’s house. When the Lord comes as the Last Adam, the saint shall be clear out of all present subjection to vanity—it will be gone, because Satan will be bound.
Through our fallen nature and lusts the creation is wholly under Satan’s power—not that he can do a tittle more than he is permitted. The more blessed man is, and the more blessings he has by-and-by, the more will he enjoy God. It is not so now. I believe they will then have an enjoyment of natural happiness of which we can scarcely have any idea. God having stamped vanity on everything that is under the sun, whatever is sought as an object takes us away now from God. Happiness in the things of nature must therefore now be restrained, as the security of the man-slayer was in the city of refuge, though we have liberty through other hopes. There will be a vast difference between the position of the saints on earth and ours in this respect. The affections of their hearts can fully flow forth on everything around them. The happiness of the saints on earth will be in ministering fulness of joy and blessing through Christ to others: their joy will not be merely in being blessed as recipients, but in having the mind and joy of the blesser. Being the administrators of government, they will be the ministers of blessing. Then will be fulfilled that promise, “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”
It will not be then, as now, “one sowing, and another reaping.” They will not only not have to stir up their hearts to watchfulness against the flesh, having no temptations to resist, but, Christ then ruling over the world, men may lawfully enjoy everything that is in the world. When temptation comes, then those who have not faith will fail. No hypocrite could enjoy natural things unto God, but, the temptation not being there to draw out his evil, it remains unknown to him. “The man who anon with joy received the word” was not a hypocrite; but, when trial came because of the word having no root in himself, he is offended.
As to the fitting posture of the saints. This is a very solemn question; it takes the heart out of the things of knowledge to that which acts on the conscience. The Lord constantly speaks according to His claim of revelation, and not according to our knowledge of it. The Lord said to His disciples, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?” The thing had been revealed, but he answers on unbelief. The measure of our apprehension of it must be according to our faith. The fitting posture of the saint is to have his mind completely in heaven, knowing that he is redeemed and made a priest to God, and that he shall reign over the earth. The things of the flesh cannot enter here; but it is quite another thing how far the body may hinder us. This throws us, day by day, on the Lord for strength in our inner man. While we can say, we are raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in fact we are in an unredeemed body, waiting for the Lord from heaven. This is all I want. And what sets me to work now? The knowledge “that when he shall appear, I shall be like him, seeing him as he is.” As the apostle says, his hope was not to be unclothed, but clothed upon; having the resurrection-life in his soul, he reached over everything that may come in between the present time and the coming of the Lord Jesus, when he should be clothed upon.
The apostle was morally right; he was not looking for death, but could say, “not that he would be unclothed.” If he died, he would be happy, being always ready; but a special revelation was needed to tell Paul and Peter that they were to die. When the disciples were in sorrow because they had lost Jesus, they were told for their comfort that Jesus should so come, in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven. And the Lord tells His disciples that “they should be glad, because he was going to the Father, and would come again and receive them unto himself.” If the kingdom and glory are mine, what difference is it whether I have to put off this tabernacle, or not? It will be only waiting here or there. The crown of righteousness is laid up by the Lord, the righteous Judge, for all them that love His appearing. Right habits of thinking are formed by looking at the glory. A person’s whole habit of thinking is often a He of Satan. All knowledge that gives another set of thoughts, and a link of mental association with Jesus in glory, is very valuable. All these great facts, which upset all things here, say, “I am not a debtor to you, body.” All the Lord’s judgments are promises to the new man. If judgment did not come, evil would be perpetual. It is deliverance to the saint. The promise of the Lord may shake something on which your heart is set; if this is broken by the hand of the Lord in chastening even, there will be blessing and benefit; but it is more blessed to be separated in obedience by the word of the Lord.
The posture of the Thessalonian church was that of suffering, and looking for rest from that suffering; this is the proper posture of the saints: not wanting to be terrified by the prospect of suffering, but needing the prospect of something to relieve them from the suffering they are in; 2 Thess. 1:6, 7. This they have in the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Let us then exhort one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching. When you see these things, do not be disturbed, look up, do not look down, for your redemption draweth nigh. I do not deny that dark circumstances are coming; but may this cause us only to look up like Stephen, and see the glory that is also coming! This would separate us from all that is contrary to the purity, holiness, and love of the Lord Jesus. We much want this separateness. We should look at ourselves in thorough and deep humiliation, seeing how divided and scattered and weak the church of God is; Isa. 22:9-14. We go and philosophise about principles; but the Lord tells us that we are but making a ditch. There is a great deal of planning and wisdom and order—a great many sacrifices—to make up the ditch; “but there is not a looking unto the maker thereof, nor having respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.” That is what we want. As regards our moral condition, and as regards results, we have to be looking for the Son from heaven. May the Lord keep us firm, looking unto Him that fashioned the church long ago.