Lecture 4 - The Woman Jezebel, and the Voice of the Church

(Rev. ii. 18-23).

We are going on to-night with the fourth of these epistles
to the seven churches - the epistle to Thyatira. It is only the first part of
this that we shall have before us now. The latter part will be reserved until
another time, if the Lord will.

We have now come to what has very
plain and simple application to Popery, or Romanism. We have been tracing the
steps leading down to it; and when we begin to speak of Romanism (if this be a
true application we are making in this address now), let us remember that God
looks at it as inside of what, in a certain sense, He owns as His. I do not
mean that He owns the woman Jezebel, but that He does own the church of
Thyatira, where the woman Jezebel is. It is not something outside, with which
we have nothing to do, but merely to let alone. It is not something that has
arisen independently, outside of us (though we are surely separate from it,) it
is something that is only the legitimate result, the full ripe fruit, of what
we have seen maturing in former epistles.

We have, in fact, been
tracing its gradual rise. First, the Assembly of God - the called out ones,
losing their separate place as that, and becoming a "Synagogue" - a mere
gathering of people indiscriminately, as it were, together. Then we have seen
the appointment of a distinct class of priests to go between God and the
people, because the people were now strangers, in fact, and not able to go to
God for themselves. That is what we mean by "clerisy." In the next place, we
have seen the marriage between the Church and the world - her complete
settlement in it; and how this necessarily gave her the things of the world,
only to become baits to worldly men to assume the role of Christian teachers,
who themselves, on the other hand, brought in the doctrine of Balaam, teaching
and seducing God’s people more and more to amalgamate with those around
them, and to give up all pretence of separation. That was Balaam’s work
with Israel, whose history has been, as it were, the anticipation of our own.
Now we come to the church of Thyatira - the full ripe result of this - the
woman Jezebel, who is doing systematically, and as a prophetess, what they had
done as individuals, and with less pretension.

I do not intend to
confine myself to what is called Roman Catholicism. If we were merely looking
at it in that way, we should be attacking something we have very little to do
with. But I want to show you that the very principle that is so plain in Popery
obtains much more widely, in fact, with those even who have come out of Popery,
and who ecclesiastically are fully outside.

I must, first of all,
however, show the application to Popery itself. Evidently, the great point in
this epistle is the sufferance of this woman Jezebel. This woman Jezebel is now
at the same work as the followers of Balaam formerly. But, as I have just now
said, they were but individuals. Now the professing church as a whole is doing
it - for this is the force and meaning of "the woman." This woman is teaching
and claiming absolute authority, the authority of a prophetess - that is, in
fact, inspiration for her teaching. She is claiming infallible authority. And
yet, according to the Scriptures, the woman has no right to teach. "I suffer
not a woman to teach" is the principle there. In Scripture, the Church is
always the woman, never the man. This is very simple, because the Church is
what is espoused to Christ, and it is Christ who is the Man to whom she owns
subjection. It is from Christ, therefore, the Word has to come to her. The
moment she herself presumes to teach, that very moment she is of necessity
setting up an independent authority apart from Christ. She is in revolt from
her proper allegiance to Him who is professedly her Lord.

It is the
woman in the Man’s place here. It is the Church, substituting herself for
Christ. She bears also a remarkable name - Jezebel, which carries us back to
the days of Ahab, king of Israel, - those days of the worst part of
Israel’s history, and of one who, though queen of Israel, was a Canaanite,
an idolatress, and a bitter persecutor of God’s saints and prophets.

I need scarcely point out to you how remarkably this name Jezebel
suits the well-proved character of the Romish church. If you go on to Babylon
the great, the woman of the seventeenth chapter of this book of Revelation, you
find her drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs
of Jesus. And there she is pointed out as sitting upon the seven hills, and the
city reigning over the kings of the earth.

Her name is remarkable in
another way. The most commonly accepted meaning of the word Jezebel is
"chaste." While the Lord speaks of her fornication and killing her children
with death, her pretension is the exact opposite. She pretends to be the chaste
spouse of Christ; and in the seventeenth chapter she is called the harlot. What
is her character? Every one knows that she claims infallibility for her
teaching - it is her boast. No church has gone to the full extent of that as
Rome has. She claims to be a prophetess, and therefore to speak with authority
from God, oracularly, and yet she at the same time is teaching and seducing
God’s servants "to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to
idols." She is putting the seal of God on the most horrible iniquity.

The very commencement of the address here has marked reference to her teaching.
In other cases you find the Lord presenting Himself in a character suited to
the state which He is addressing. Here He presents Himself as "the Son of God."
There is nothing more distinct in the teaching of Rome than that He is simply
the Son of Mary. They exalt Mary above Him in every possible way. They say Mary
is a woman, and has a tender heart; therefore go to Mary rather. Mary, too, is
a mother, and she can command her Son. Even if they own Him to be God, this
still serves to exalt Mary more; for then Mary is the mother of God and queen
of heaven. That is the blasphemy of Rome. The Lord takes distinctly therefore
here His own proper title as the Son of God. How striking it is I If we look
into it, we shall find every word applying in the most complete way to that of
which it speaks. This woman Jezebel is the Church in Christ’s place;
lowering Him, we may say, in every possible way to exalt herself; setting aside
His Word to introduce her own, and claiming for her word that authority which
she denies to the word of God itself.

You know how she denies it. She
will tell you - exalting at the same time her own tradition to a level with it
- that there is no doubt at all that it is the word of God; but she will tell
you at the same time that you cannot understand it except as you listen to her
teaching. Practically it is her teaching you are to hear: as she misapplies
Scripture, you are to "hear the Church," and will give you Matt. xviii. 17 for
it. If you ask, on the other hand, how you are to know the Church, she will
give you marks, as Unity, Sanctity, Catholicity, Apostolicity (not one of
which, notoriously, applies to her); but she will not send you to ascertain her
character from that very book which she calls the word of God, and which she
pleads in behalf of her own authority! She opens the book to show you a
fragment of a sentence - hear the "Church" - and then she shuts it tight
between her fast-closed hands, and says, with a self-possession that almost
redeems it from absurdity, - "and that is myself; you must hear Me!" So, in
point of fact, what she inculcates is the blindest possible credulity.

But I do not dwell upon this any longer. We want to have something that
concerns ourselves. And I think there is no difficulty in finding that which
concerns us abundantly in the very principles which are involved in this. We
may think ourselves quite outside of Popery, while we are holding the very
principles of Popery itself. We may have got the root, while disclaiming the
proper fruit of the tree; but, beloved friends, the root, undoubtedly, is to be
found everywhere in the soil, and plenty of fruit too. That root is the
Church’s authority to teach - to give forth what you are to listen to as,
in some sense, authoritative, because she teaches it. Of course, when I say
that, I admit fully that that is maintained in very different degrees and ways.
If I go to Ritualism, I shall find, for instance, pretension almost as high as
that of Rome herself, only connecting itself with an antique Catholicism of
whose traditions they are merely the jealous guardians. This is still the
infallible oracular Church, only with an infallibility less tangible, and
doctrines less defined.

But church-teaching is not necessarily
connected with this pretension at all. If we look through Christendom, we shall
find almost every little sect in it professing to define for herself doctrines
which she holds, and which she insists upon her members holding. I do not mean
to say that they claim infallibility at all, or that they do not appeal to
God’s blessed word for what they hold as truth. That, of course, is all
right and in place, but I mean something very different from that. I mean, if
you take, for instance, the churches of the Reformation, and those which have
sprung out of them since, you will find that every one is still holding fast
this principle - that the Church is to teach, and it is necessary that a body
of doctrine should be put forth as church-teaching to which appeal can be made,
and which may answer for the truth their members hold. In this we have spite of
its disguise, what I may call an essential principle of Romanism - the
Church’s, instead of Christ’s authority - the Church pretending to
give a word which is authoritative to those who, if they are not members of
Christ, are nothing.

Let us look at it a little more fully. As I say,
in the first place, there is this pretension about it - the Church claims to be
a teacher. I will not say now an infallible teacher - that would be pure
Romanism: but nevertheless a teacher. And those who hold to the Church, what
ever that church may be, are at any rate bound to submit to her teaching. Now
if we take Scripture, how completely contrary it is to all this. In the first
place, what is the Church? The Church is the assembly of God’s people -
the assembly that is Christ’s body: its members are members of Christ.
From first to last in the New Testament, you will find no better equivalent of
the Church, in God’s thought. What man would make of it is recognized, I
grant; but that is another thing. It is the Church which is Christ’s body,
and to it every member of Christ, and he alone, belongs. But when that is said,
the question is, where is the teaching body? Plainly, the body of Christ is
composed of all, teachers and taught alike. The very youngest babe in Christ
belongs to that body as well as the oldest and most advanced. How is it
possible, then, that this Church can give any authoritative utterance at all?
The fact is, you must necessarily put aside that definition of the Church the
moment you think of its teaching. Whom would it teach - itself, the world, or
what? Is it not plain that you must not confound the teachers and the taught?
And if the Church is the teacher, the teaching must be for those outside the
Church. And who teaches the Church?

Every creed and confession is, in
fact, the faith at first of a few, addressed to those outside the few who put
it forth. It may gain adherents, and become the faith in that way of a great
number; but however that may be, the authoritative teaching is only that of the
original few, binding, to whatever extent, even the teachers of the same body
afterward. For when you say, the Church teaches us so and so, you do not mean
the present teachers You may be, in fact, recalling them to the teaching of the
Church, or convicting them of departure from it. The teaching which binds (or
is supposed to bind) is not the teaching of the Church today, but the teaching
of certain teachers in the past. The Church, then, is not here the teacher, but
has only bound itself to receive such and such teaching. The whole weight of
some imposing name is attached to the teaching of those who, if they lived in
the present generation, would not be recognized at all as having the same

But apart altogether from Scripture, which is not in
question here, what gave this place to teachers of the past, which those of the
present may not pretend to? Have we not the same Spirit as they had? Have we
not the same Word to enlighten? We may be less spiritual - true: but are not
the Word and the Spirit of God as sufficient for us now as when these
church-confessions were made?

If we turn to Rome we shall find her
more consistent, and therefore more wholly wrong. She does not exalt the past
above the present, but claims the same infallibility as resident in the Church
at all times. And as there are no degrees in infallibility, her decrees of
yesterday have all the authority of Scripture itself. But here the voice of the
Church means the voice of the Pope, or the Pope with the bishops and the
cardinals; and it would be nothing but sheer irony to tell the simple layman
that he had anything to do with the decree declaring the Pope infallible, or
the Virgin Mary immaculate, except in obeying it.

Some may think this
a quibble, and that "the voice of the Church" does not mean that the Church
teaches otherwise than through its teachers; and this would avail for Rome
better than for the Protestant bodies, if (a great deal often depends upon
"if") if it could be maintained. But it cannot; for the teacher is not the
instrument, or mouthpiece, of the Church, but of Christ through the Spirit. "He
gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some pastors and teachers." And not
only so, but the apostle John can speak to Christians as having the Word of
truth and the Spirit of truth, as being in a true sense independent of
teachers. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One," says he, "and know all
things." And again: "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in
you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but the same anointing teacheth
you all things, and is truth, and is no lie"(i John ii. 20, 27).

is indeed infallibility, and available for every Christian; but it is the
infallibility of the Spirit, not of the Church, nor of man: an anointing which
every Christian has received, and which renders him, as I have said,
independent of teachers even, in a true sense - which we must guard, however,
from constructions that man’s pride would put upon it. The apostle
evidently does not mean that teachers are superfluous, or an excrescence upon
the body of the Church. He does not mean to make every man a teacher, nor that
God will maintain him in independence of ministries which He has Himself
ordained. He does not mean us to be isolated units. The Church of God is a body
in which the highest cannot say unto the lowest, "I have no need of you." Ho
who refuses the help that God supplies him with need not wonder if he be left
to prove the folly and barrenness of self-sufficiency.

But yet there
is truth - deep and needed truth for us - in just these words: "Ye know all
things, and need not that any one teach you." It is the knowledge springing
from daylight and good eyes. The best eyes would not avail in darkness; nor the
best light, if we were blind. But the Word is light, and the Spirit of God has
rolled off the darkness from our eyes. To men with proper sight, in daylight, I
can say, not only, "you can see," but, "you see all things." I do not mean the
antipodes, or the other side of the moon; I simply mean that whatever is before
you your own eyes can see. You are not like a blind man, needing to take it on
my authority that the sun is shining, or the clouds threaten rain. Yet I may
call your attention to it, or I may put an object before you which was not in
your field of view before. And this is the proper office of a teacher: not to
give authority to truth, nor yet to decide for you that such or such athing is
true, but merely to put that before you whichmust authenticate to you both
itself and me - itself astruth, and me as a teacher of truth. Here the Word and
the Spirit have their proper supremacy with the soul. They, and they alone, are
the guarantee of truth. They, and they alone, are my true and abundant security
as to doctrine.

But here is the trouble with these confessions of
faith - which you will understand I am not finding the least fault with, as the
confession of the faith of those who drew them up. I may thank God for the
Augsburg confession as a protest against error, while I refuse it as an
authority to define or limit my faith. And this is what it came to be used for,
as a test of truth and as security for its preservation - how feeble as such
all Germany bears witness at this day. And no wonder; for thus the
apostles’ teachings (what they presented to the Church as truth) is set
aside, nay, proclaimed insufficient and untrustworthy. The Bible! why plenty of
Unitarians will accept the Bible! What then? Why, get a human declaration as to
the deity of Christ, and that will settle the matter. I am not accusing people
of intentional dishonour to the Word or Spirit of God, but, none the less, such
it is in fact.

It is the common sin and shame of the whole Church of
God. It has been our own, I suppose - all of us. And if unbelief introduced
these things at first, unbelief no less maintains them. And we who have had so
long in our hands an open Bible are proportionately responsible, are we not?
surely much more than those who lived in the days when it was only just
re-opened. I do not say that those who hold these things follow them out to
their conclusion, but I am justified in giving the conclusion to which they may
be followed out. What the Lord says is true in this application, "Ye shall know
them by their fruits: do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

And here, do not let yourselves oe misted by the common thought that
men of God could not teach what is false. In that way the goodness of a man is
set up against the truth of the word of God; and, as I have already said,
God’s word is not allowed to be authoritative because good men speak
different things. Men equally good and learned, who have taken equal pains (we
suppose) to ascertain what it is they teach, are nevertheless teaching things
directly opposite to one another. Yet God has given His Spirit to lead into all
truth, and He has said, "If any one will do His will, he shall know of the
doctrine, whether it be of God." How are you to connect these things to make
them harmonize? If you take men’s goodness as security for their doctrine,
you cannot do it. Thus it is that so many cast the authority of Scripture
overboard. You must not be so presumtuous as to say you have the truth. You may
have opinions. What is the worth of an opinion? Suppose it leads you wrong? If
it is my opinion, it is what I have no title to have, if the word of God is to
be authoritative. Has He spoken unintelligibly, or can His blessed Spirit teach
contradictory things? We must think so if we look at man’s goodness and
man’s character, instead of testing by the Word all he brings.

God meant, and has told us distinctly, that by the Word we are to test
everything. Will men submit to that appeal? "Search the Scriptures" were His
own words, "for these are they which testify of Me." So the Bereans (so often
spoken of, so little followed!) are noticed as more noble than those of
Thessalonica because, as to what even an apostle said, "they searched the
Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Where else shall we find
certainty at all? You may talk of presumption, but, I tell you, in the presence
of eternity we do want certainty - something that we can lean upon that will
not give way. And it is the lack of certainty that is the feebleness of so much
evangelical Protestantism. Infidelity is "positivism," and Rome is as bold as
ever with her claim to possess absolute truth. How will you stand against the
two, if you alone are uncertain? The Romanist naturally turns to you and says,
Don’t you want certainty? I say, Surely I do; and therefore I go to that
which only gives it - the word of God, and the Spirit of God. The moment you
bring in other authorities the word of God is gone.

Take, for
instance, the so-called Church of England: if such and such a person teaches
error, they do not bring the Bible into court, and look at that. It has no
place there. I say distinctly, in judging what is heresy it has nothing more to
do than if it were not in existence. It is the Prayer Book that must decide;
and if it is not condemned by the Prayer Book, the man is entitled to hold it,
rank as the heresy may be. It is what Christians are groaning over in every
direction, but they do not impute it to the right source. They do not see that
it is the very necessity of a creed, which they suppose will secure the truth -
that the necessary effect of the creed is that it removes the real standard of
truth out of court altogether, and puts something else in its place. We need
not question the piety of the men who composed the creed; yet, none the less,
what is the result? Of course, they could not foresee what new heresies would
arise; they could not guard every gap. They were not prescient as the Author of
Scripture is. So their notable security for truth actually is in the way of
their dealing with the error. They have barred God out from settling it in His
own way; and their unbelief in His wisdom and care ties them hand and foot, and
delivers them over to the enemy.

Let me ask you seriously, do you
really think God’s mind is really less certain, less clear, less
plain-speaking, than man’s word? You say that people profess to find this
and that doctrine in Scripture. It is quite true; but do you really mean to say
that, after all, man’s word is clearer, and so can be greater security
than God’s word? If you realize it as His Word, you cannot surely argue
so. Is it not God speaking to man ? - a Father to His children? Does He not
speak even to babes - not to the learned, but the unlearned? If all this be
true (and it is the simplest truth that can be), what must be the result? The
result is, that God’s word must be simpler, truer, safer to trust to, far,
than any possible human creed can be. And to supplement it with a creed, an
authoritative creed, is, in fact, to supplant it: it is to say, God has not
done for us what man can do; that God has not cared for us with even the care
we have for one an other.

The next result of a human creed is
necessarily sectarianism and schism. I know this is a very little matter in
people’s eyes now, and I grant there is something that is worse in
God’s eyes - that false unity which people claim in Rome - a unity, not
internal and spiritual, but external, secured by an authoritative putting down
of all dissent from it. That unity did practically obtain for ages; and what do
we call those times? We call them truly "The Dark Ages:" that was when the
Church’s dictum (in opposition to God’s word) was most authoritative.

Where there is not power to repress dissent after this fashion, the
result of an authoritative creed is to produce divisions. Being human merely,
it will not, of course, be perfect: it will give the measure of its
composer’s knowledge, and, very naturally, also bear the marks of his
failure, wherever he has failed to apprehend the teaching of the Word. These
errors are now, equally with the truth itself bound upon all by the same
authority. People must submit, and do violence to their consciences, or they
must respect their consciences and go outside. The confession becomes thus a
party badge. It binds people together by the very beliefs in which they differ
from other Christians, whom they cannot but own to be walking as godly as
themselves. Scripture itself has to be interpreted in conformity with the
creed, and where it cannot be silenced sectarians are made in plenty, and
doctrines are changed from their design of edification to be the unholy
watchwords of intestine strife.

So we have lost practically the
blessed name of Christians, and are known as Episcopalians, Presbyterians,
Baptists - names derived from our differences only. Our differences are exalted
above what we have in common, and the body of Christ is rent into many bodies,
which become, therefore, human organizations, not divine. God’s Church is
owned to be the true one, but it is invisible. There are practical working
churches, which accommodate themselves better to the many minds of men, and
which they can regulate to their own satisfaction.

Who takes the
twelfth chapter of i Corinthians as defining the actual church to which they
belong? In what church is "membership" neither more nor less than membership of
Christ? Who takes the fourteenth chapter as regulating the Church’s coming
together? Yet the apostle there exhorts every one who pretends to be spiritual
to acknowledge the things he writes unto them are the commandments of the Lord.
Is it all antiquated and passed away, or applies to an invisible body nowhere
to be found on earth?

On the other hand, they tell us that - "The
visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men in the which the
pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered," etc.; and
that - "The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority on
controversies of faith."

Whose is this voice? It is not
Jezebel’s: there is no pretension to infallibility, but the contrary: the
Church "must not ordain anything that is contrary to God’s word written;"
and there is danger of it, for "as the church of Jerusalem, Alexandria and
Antioch have erred, so also the church of Rome hath erred, not only in their
living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith."

is not infallibility, but, on the other hand, a very simple acknowledgment of
danger in submitting to this authority that the Church is said to have. Yet she
is maintained in the power she has abused, and is only warned not to ordain
anything contrary to God’s word. But who is to decide if she does? And
what are we to do, if she does? Conform in spite of conscience, or go outside
the Church? Both the one and the other have been done by tens of thousands; and
the Church’s authority has been maintained in Protestant England at the
cost of innumerable troubled consciences, and the secession of the truest,
bravest, godliest men she ever had. The Act of Uniformity emptied two thousand
pulpits at once. How many have submitted, not strong enough to contend, not
true enough to make the sacrifice demanded, the day of manifestation alone will
show. How many at present do violence to their own consciences every time they
use the baptismal services, who shall say? It cannot be helped, they say, for
the Church has authority to decree, and she has no infallibility to save her
from decreeing error I Does the word of God indeed give authority where there
is such manifest incompetency to use it? No, emphatically; God forbid! It is
the Church’s own decree, not God’s; the woman in the place of the
man, and thus confusion.

Jezebel goes farther than this, and wisely.
She does not proclaim her authority and her incompetency in one breath. She is
a prophetess, and "infallible," the only ground upon which her authority can be
righteously maintained. But she is emphatically the preacher of
unrighteousness, teaching and seducing Christ’s people to eat
idol-offerings and commit fornication. It is the "woman" of the thirteenth of
Matthew putting the leaven into the fine flour of the meat-offering; for it is
Lev. ii. that explains the parable there. Just as the "tree" of the third
parable shows the result of the word of the Kingdom to be the establishment of
a Babel- like power in the world, (and this answers to Pergamos) so the "woman"
of the fourth parable corresponds to the "woman" of the fourth epistle; and the
"meal" of the parable would be better rendered by the "fine flour" of
Leviticus. That fine flour is Christ, the bread of life, the food of His
people, and the woman might lawfully have this and distribute it. But she is
doing more - she is adding of her own to it, and this is to adulterate and
spoil it. God has given her no right of manufacture of His people’s food.
If she adds anything to it, it is "leaven " - corruption. The leaven of the
Pharisees and of the Sadducees, and the leaven of Herod, are what the Lord
Himself points out as the danger in connection with His people’s food
(Matt. xvi. 12; Mark viii. 15); and this He plainly points out to be their
"doctrine." The doctrine of the Pharisees was ritualism and superstition; the
doctrine of the Sadducees was rationalistic infidelity; the doctrine of the
Herodians was a courticrship of the world. And here are plainly still the
adulterations of Christianity. It is the Man’s voice, Christ’s, which
alone has title to be heard by the people of God; when the woman speaks, it is
at once insubordination and corruption.

Unhappily those who at the
Reformation so nobly and boldly protested against the doings and sayings of the
woman Jezebel left the root of it untouched in not protesting against all
church legislation in the things of God. Had they left legislation to the
righteous Lawgiver, and claimed for the Church the simple duty of obedience to
Him - had they maintained the authority of His Word alone, and for power the
power only of His Spirit - how different would the result have been I Instead
of this, they took away but infallibility from the woman, (owned the actual bad
fruit of her teaching,) and then, having branded her thus as evil and
incapable, set her up again as before, with only an admonition to teach truly
and according to the Word. The natural result followed. Men having the Word in
their hands now, and having learnt that the Church was fallible, soon found her
teaching actually false. Division followed - discord - doubt of all truth-until
infidelity, on the one hand, proclaims that nothing can be really known; while
Jezebel looks down from her prophet’s chair and asks, "Does not
‘babel’ mean ‘confusion’ ? - where is the real confusion?
with your many voices, or my single one?"

And, in truth, does not
"Babylon the great" extend further, however much her seat may be, and is, in
Rome? When God’s judgment fell upon the old typical city - the seat of
empire of the first apostate - and when, scattered necessarily by the confusion
of speech, they separated and left off building the city, did not those who
abandoned the plain of Shinar carry with them, in their diverse speech, the
evidence that they too were only hindered by that effectualimpediment from
building Babel still? And are not the diverse tongues of Protestantism a sign
of how thoroughly God hates mere outward, earthly, ecclesiastical unity ? -
only thus hindered from being built up again.

Yet let us not be
dismayed. God and His truth remain the same. "He that will do His will shall
know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." If we will be content in weakness
and nothingness to be doers of His will, seeking, not name or power, but the
blessedness of proving the peace and pleasantness of His holy ways, we shall
find His truth the same as ever, and His strength made perfect in our weakness
still. If but "two or three," literally, were left together, His "there am I"
has provided not only blessing but sanction for them. Was there any other with
whom Enoch walked, who of old "walked with God?" We know not: but only of
himself (in his generation) is this written. The "two or three" seems to assure
us it shall not quite be that with us. But still, as singly, must our feet be
walking as it were alone with God.

We shall look at Jezebel in yet
another character, if the Lord will, next time. But I put it to you now,
whether these church-teachings - much wider than Jezebel’s - have not, in
fact, the character I have attributed to them; whether they are not based upon
a false assumption of authority where Christ’s word gives none? whether
they do not suppose God’s word to be incomplete and less plain-speaking
than man’s? and whether they have not led, and do not lead, to the
scattering of Christ’s sheep, instead of gathering them? They do, no
doubt, assume to be for gathering, not scattering; but we must mark well our
Lord’s words: "He that gathereth not WITH ME, scattereth abroad." As a
fact, is not the result further and further division? - must it not necessarily
be so?

And if all this be true, what is our duty when the Church
presumes to step into Christ’s place, and claim the obedience which is His
due alone? Is it humility to give way and say nothing? Is it loyalty to Him to
give up what is His due. Surely every honest-hearted servant of His will
answer, No. Let then the answer be practical and outspoken. Let us return to
the simple blessedness of hearing His words and doing His will - to the yoke
which, being His (far different to what the Church’s yoke has ever
proved), is easy, and to His burden, which is light. Let us hear the words
which, as they come down to us from the centuries of the past, approve
themselves as indeed prophetic: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches."