We have before us, to-night, beloved brethren, the concluding portion of God's blessed Word; and I cannot but feel, as we enter upon it, how more than inadequate the account has been of the previous parts, while it is vain to promise one's self better either as to what remains. Still what account could be given that would not be inadequate? And if a partial representation be in some sort a misrepresentation, it will be sufficient to warn you not to suppose that what has been given is intended for more than a stepping-stone to future progress, and to exhibit the places of the books in that numerical order which I believe the whole Scripture to have. This, spite of all defects, I trust has been so far done, and to be able to carry it through to the end. And the importance of it I think has been shown also. The profit will be found by those who will use in practice what they may have obtained. To wrap it in a napkin will bring no gain.
The order of the epistles varies somewhat in different MSS., as has already been remarked; and in the east, as it would seem, the "catholic" epistles stood before those of Paul. But in the west, the order obtained substantially as it is found in our common Bibles. The order of the Pauline epistles among themselves has been also generally maintained as we have it to-day, although not without minor differences. No account can be given of any reason for one arrangement rather than another, and no claim of any divine authority for any arrangement has been made, so far s I am aware. We do not seem, therefore, in any way limited as to this.
Now if the numerical system has any value, the Pauline epistles, and not the catholic, have rightful claim to be the third division of the New Testament. The catholic epistles all have for their subject, in some sense, the path through the world. They stand, in this way, as a fourth division, plainly. While Paul it is who establishes the soul before God, opening the holiest and bringing us in there, as he says himself, "warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Another has pointed out that the very doctrine of justification by faith itself is only explicitly announced by Paul. On the other hand, the walk through the world is not really the subject of one of his epistles.
It is Leviticus that gives the different features of the Lord's great offering as the measure of our acceptance and of our sanctification to God, and it is Paul who interprets this into the plain speech of the New Testament. His epistles, then, are plainly the third division; and is it without design that there are just fourteen of them (if Hebrews be counted in)? that is twice seven, which according to the significance of the numbers would mean, "The testimony of a divine work accomplished." Their character could hardly be more concisely given.
But it must not be supposed that they divide into two sevens: they actually divide into two Pentateuchs, the books of Moses once more being the mould into which these New-Testament books are cast. The three double books rank here as one section each, and one other small book, Philemon, takes its place as a supplement to a larger one - Colossians.
First come the individual epistles, by which I do not mean those written to individuals however; in fact, only one of them is so; but those which speak of individual place and its results. They may, indeed, be classed better perhaps as positional epistles, if only, as I have said, the practical consequences are reckoned in with this.
The second class are those that speak of collective truths, or those that exhibit the Christian as one of a company or fellowship - the family of God, the house of God, the body of Christ.
In the first rank I would put -
4. Colossians, with 2 Philemon, as a supplement.
In the second rank, -
Let us look briefly now at the separate epistles; and, -
The epistle to the Romans has clearly its natural place at the beginning of all the epistles, its doctrine being the first and fundamental one of acceptance with God. But it has also, and in a beautiful manner, the characteristics of its numerical place.
Counsel and election mark it, - those signs of an omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign God. The doctrine of the eighth and ninth chapters maintains the will of God in a way which to some is offensive and to many difficult. Do we not forget that love and holy wisdom must needs characterise His will, in whatever way it acts, and it can never be merely arbitrary?
"God's gifts and calling" are thus declared to be "without repentance;" and this is applied to the case of Israel, still "beloved for the fathers' sakes," and their conversion at another day.
But the distinct peculiarity of Romans is not in this, but in the two main points of its teaching, which are plainly justification and the place in Christ. Neither of these, however, is in itself distinctive. It is in the way they are announced that we shall find what is really so.
As to the first, there is a term used almost confined to this epistle - "the righteousness of God." It is necessary to understand this term, in order to see how it bears upon its numerical place. And indeed the expression itself is perfectly simple. Take the third and fourth verses of the third chapter in illustration: "As it is written, `That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.' But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say?" Here, when God is justified in His sayings, His righteousness is commended, and the righteousness of God is just His righteous character.
Let this meaning by adhered to every where, and every passage will be simple, and the doctrine plain and uniform throughout. "The righteousness of God" is not, therefore, what is conferred on or imputed to man, but is the character of God Himself. Now when the apostle says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," he gives as the reason, "for therein is the righteousness of God revealed, by faith, to faith." The revelation of the righteousness of God gives thus its peculiar power to the gospel: God's righteousness in good news to sinners.
Righteousness! and why not rather mercy or love? Certainly these are shown no less; but there is a most important reason why it should be righteousness that is insisted on in the gospel. Did you ever find any one, whatever his sins, afraid of the mercy of God? No, you will answer, that is impossible. Or of His love? That is equally impossible. Of what, then, is the sinner afraid in God? Plainly, of His wrath, and that as against sin is righteousness.
Now it is the glory of the gospel, and that in which its power really lies, that in it God's righteousness takes the side of the sinner who will take his place as such before Him. Where is this righteousness declared? The third chapter states this: it is Christ "whom God hath set forth a propitiation, through faith, by His blood" - so the Revised Version rightly renders it, - "to show His righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing of His righteousness at this present season, that He might Himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."
In the blood of Christ, then, God's righteousness is shown. Against sinners? No, surely, but for them, because for them that precious blood was shed. And note, that in justification righteousness is alone in question. Love can do nothing. Mercy even can do nothing. A sentence of justification can be pronounced by the lips of righteousness alone. No wonder, then, that it is this that the apostle insists on as the power of the gospel. It is one thing to say, "I hope in His mercy;" it is quite another to say, "I rest in His righteousness." And this every poor sinner, taking his place as such before God, is through the blood of Christ entitled to do.
This is the distinctive doctrine of Romans, and this it is which so beautifully marks it as a first epistle. If the number 1, as we have seen, speaks of God's accordance with Himself, - of His oneness in the consistency of all His attributes, - then this is just what the epistle to the Romans shows, - His righteousness actually pronouncing as to believing sinners the sentence of justification, in which His love delights.
But there is a second part of the doctrine of Romans which equally illustrates its numerical place; and this speaks of our place in Christ before God. Here the doctrine is, that Christ is the new Head of blessing, as Adam was the old head of condemnation. Life for us in Him is life with all the value of His work attaching to it: "In that He died, He died unto sin once; and in that He liveth, He liveth unto God: even so reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus." (Chap. vi. 10, 11, R. V.)
These are the two parts of the doctrine of Romans in its first eight chapters, developed, of course, there, in a way I cannot at this time trace. Of the ninth and beyond I have already briefly spoken. We have here the characteristic features of the book, and I need not press further their correspondence with the place it has at the beginning of the epistles.
The epistle to the Galatians fills the second place as dwelling upon the contrast between law and grace, the first nevertheless bearing witness to the last, to which it is the ministering handmaid - the Hagar to another Sarah. If the Acts be the historical Exodus from the yoke of bondage, Galatians is its doctrinal statement and justification. This is evident.
The characteristic word in Galatians is the "cross." Other epistles do indeed speak of it: 1 Corinthians, Philippians, and Colossians twice; Ephesians and Hebrews once. But in Galatians it has a peculiar place. Testimony as it is to the world's enmity to Christ, it is testimony no less to the opposition of the law to man's salvation. The curse of the law has to be borne by Him who would in His love redeem us from it.
"Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree." How strange, too, the testimony in the curse, which might seem as if it were suspended through the ages just to fall upon the head of Christ! Why should a man be specially cursed who hangs upon a tree? What answer can be given except that thus must be marked that death which was to be borne for sinners, as not simply man's infliction, but God's penalty? What, then, must be the moral result, but that "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts?" And as to the world, the apostle expresses it in most vehement words, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified to me and I unto the world!" And "Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father."
Thus the exodus from the law is an exodus from the world also, and deliverance is thus far complete.
And now Ephesians comes in to give the positive side of what we have in Christ, and raise the Christian up to the full height of his position. Ephesians has very decisive marks of the place it holds - the third place; for there is no book that so opens the heavenly places for us: Hebrews, indeed, as worshippers; but Ephesians, to set us there in Christ.
We have not the Christian as dead to sin or law or the world now, but first dead in sins, and then quickened and raised up with Christ, a wholly new creation. Sanctification is thus provided for: "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them."
Then we are "made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
And from being afar off are brought nigh to God, and have access through one Spirit to the Father. And not only so, but are made a spiritual habitation of God, growing into a holy temple in the Lord. Then we have the revelation by the Spirit of the mystery of the Church before hid in God, that to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God.
Then a prayer, that through the power of the Spirit Christ may so dwell in the heart by faith that we may be filled up unto all the fullness of God.
The Spirit, and union by the Spirit, with its result the formation of the Church, as the body of Christ, - these things, as is well known, characterise Ephesians. And I might go on, but it needs not. The place of Ephesians as a third epistle is fully manifest, and this is my object now.
Notice, again, how these epistles are connected together. Romans and Galatians give the full clearance of the believer from all that is against him, - sin, the flesh, the world. Romans introduces to Galatians by "the old man crucified with Christ." Galatians completes the deliverance. Then Ephesians takes up the positive side of quickening with Christ, the heavenly place, and union by the Spirit. This, by its "filled with all the fullness of God," leads us the central truth in Colossians.
Colossians is a beautiful fourth epistle. It is not, indeed, the path through the world itself, which, as I have said, is never the subject of Paul's epistles, but it is the furnishing for the path. Its characteristic text is certainly chap ii. 9, 10 - "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are filled up" (complete).
You will remember how we saw the division of 4 into 3 and 1. Notice, then, how these numbers characterise the text just mentioned. The two clauses are stamped respectively with these two numbers: "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead" - 3; and "In Him ye are filled up [or complete]" - 1. For this is in fact our spiritual perfection, in which true internal harmony is found.
And this is what the epistle as a whole develops. In the first chapter is the first part, as indeed it is already stated there: "For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell" - so, manifestly, the Revised Version notwithstanding, it should read. Then comes, in the second and third chapters, the development of how in this fullness we are filled up. And here the blessings of Romans and Ephesians both are found, except the being ourselves in heavenly places, because it is of life down here the epistle speaks, yet the life of the risen man to whom Christ is all, and his responsibility to walk worthy of the Lord, - indeed to walk in Him.
Philemon comes in here as a supplement, I doubt not. I was a good while doubtful of its place, and yet once seen, it is simple enough. Onesimus is mentioned in Colossians, and was sent back at the very time of that letter, Philemon belonging himself to Colosse. It is strange, in fact, it should have been separated from that epistle, except from its being written to an individual, not an assembly as in the latter case.
The subject, too, no doubt seems different. It is nevertheless most beautifully connected as an appendix, as we shall easily see. For it is striking that addresses to masters and servants are found (along with other relations in life,) in both Ephesians and Colossians; to masters in Paul's epistles, no where else; thus this address to a master fittingly follows.
A reason, too, for these addresses in these two epistles is surely this, that the thought of the place in Christ, and the new life of which they speak, should not be taken enthusiastically to do away with the relationships of the present: a real danger, as it has proved, for some.
Now Philemon demonstrates practically how for the apostle these relationships remain. Onesimus is now by his conversion much "more than a servant, a brother beloved," yet Paul sends him back to his master, though he would gladly have retained him, but without his mind would do nothing. The epistle thus shows strikingly the true exalting power of Christianity, not intended to release from the duties or disadvantages of an earthly place, - not to be a lever to lift into earthly position or ease, - but to fill with a competency to serve in the lowest and lowliest, like Him whom we all serve.
How well Philemon fills its place here I need not, surely, point out.
And now Philippians, as an experimental close to this part, comes to tell us how great the gain for one to whom Christ is "all." The epistle is a blessed and wonderful Deuteronomy, in which sin is no longer before one, and the flesh can be dismissed as having no confidence in it. (This is the practical result of the lesson of Romans being learned.) It tells of one who has found the cross of Christ, the end of a path which leads out of the world to the highest place with God: and this is the moral lesson of Galatians. It speaks, too, of One in whom all is found for the heart - an Object outside the world, and above it: and this is Ephesians and Colossians. Finally, it tells us of the result as to all passed through here; of the compe- tency of Christ so enjoyed for all exercises and all emergencies. A grand and triumphant conclusion to this first Pentateuch of Paul the apostle.
A glimpse at these things makes one long to pause and go more deeply into them. But this would be to give up what is before us at the present moment. We must even hasten on at an increased rate of progress.
The second Pentateuch of Paul commences with two epistles, the earliest of all he wrote: -
1. The Epistles to the Thessalonians.
The two epistles are alike addressed to the "church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ," and this is peculiar to them. It is significant therefore, of course, of the subject of the epistles, which are of great simplicity. The second is but an appendix to the first, upon a special subject.
The first epistle, written to those but recently converted, is full of the joy of the witness for Christ they were already giving, the work of their faith, the labor of their love, the patience of their hope in Christ; for young as that hope was yet, its endurance had been severely tested. All this manifested God's election of them, their reception into the family of God as begotten of the Spirit and Word, amid much affliction.
The rest of the epistle reminds them of what his own walk had been among them, speaks of his affection and anxiety for them, and, for their encouragement, communicates to them, a new revelation from the Lord concerning the resurrection of the sleeping saints, to be caught up with the living when He comes. The last chapter exhorts them, as children of the day, not to be surprised in the night as others, to put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation: the same Christian character as before dwelt upon; for what defence can there be against the world like the cultivating of the faith, love, and hope which are fixed beyond it?
The theme of the epistle, then, is the family of God, and their character, with which, not as something over and above, but as essential to its development, the doctrine of the Lord's coming is specially dwelt upon. It is referred to, indeed, again and again, all through, and the Thessalonians were converted to wait for God's Son from heaven.
The second epistle brings out even more, perhaps, the importance of this, speaking after John's manner to the babes of Antichrist, to be revealed before the day of the Lord - not His descent into the air, - should come. An apostasy from Christianity should precede and make way for the man of sin.
2. The Epistles to the Corinthians.
If the epistles to the Thessalonians give us the character and hopes of the children of God, those to the Corinthians speak of a fellowship in which the children of God are now gathered together. Corinthians gives us the Church of God, as the practical fellowship of saints on earth, not in the heavenly aspect in which Ephesians presents it. But upon earth there is a trinity of evil to oppose and corrupt, if possible, that which is of God; and Corinth was noted among the Greeks themselves for its vice and profligacy. The power of the Spirit of God had been shown signally here, and the Lord had much people in the city; but they had not maintained themselves in holy separateness from the evil around, and the epistle devoted to the order of the Church on earth is a striking witness to the in-coming evils. Divisions had rent their fellowship, the wisdom of the world had displaced to a great extent the wisdom that was in Christ, the loose walk permitted among them outraged the very heathen, while from the idolatry around even they were not separate. Thus the world, the flesh, and the devil had place already in what was the temple of God on earth, and instead of mourning, they were rejoicing and puffed up.
The first division of the first epistle deals with these evils; the second develops the internal order of the Church: the subjection of the woman to the man, as of the man to the Lord; the regulation of the Lord's supper, the showing forth of His death; the gifts in the body, and the spirit and manner of their exercise. Subjection, testimony, mutual ministry in love, - these are the things insisted on. The third division shows how the Word of God itself, the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection, was in question among them: the whole basis of the assembly was being lost.
The second epistle is again an appendix to the first, its subject being the ministry of the Word, its charac- ter as the ministry of the new covenant, its trials, exercises, sustaining power and compensations. Of this the apostle is himself the living exponent, and all his heart is told out in it; but we see also that ministry is not confined to this public service, but that the minis- tering of one's goods even is also this.
In the third place comes the epistle to the Hebrews, which answers so clearly to the place it fills that few words are needed to make this plain. It is largely a commentary on the text in Leviticus, the "day of atonement," only with the vail of the sanctuary now rent, and boldness to enter in through the blood of Jesus. The priesthood of Christ is, of course, largely dwelt on; and the going outside the camp, to which now the Jewish Christians are urged, is the simple consequence of the glory itself having for the third time left it, and the sanctuary being now outside.
The epistle to the Hebrews finds thus its necessary place among Paul's epistles, and there would be, if it were wanting, an evident and important gap; while by itself, also, it could not stand. There is as little place for it elsewhere as here on the other hand it is clearly needed.
4. The Epistles to Timothy.
The epistles to Timothy speak of the Church as the house of God, to be ordered for Him in that holiness which becomes it. Therefore, in the first epistle, the provision of elders and deacons, the care for godliness and good doctrine every-where manifest. The Church of God is the pillar and ground of the truth, and we are to know how to behave ourselves in it.
But already there are teachers of the law, and blasphemers like Hymenaeus and Alexander; and the Spirit expressly assures us that in the latter times men shall apostatise from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and demon-teachings. The second epistle shows already a vast change. The house of God is become like a great house, with its gold and silver vessels indeed, but also those of wood and earth, and some to honour and some to dishonour. Now, therefore, one must purge one's self from these in order to be a vessel unto honour, and fellowship is to be maintained with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. The last days are more distinctly seen, and persecution ever for those who will live godly in Christ Jesus. The apostle's course is finishing with joy, and now we are commended to God and the word of His grace.
These are the wilderness books of the second series. How different from that bright Colossian epistle of the first! And yet the soul of the apostle is bright. In the removal of all that can be shaken, we learn but the more what it is to have our portion in that which cannot be shaken.
Titus closes this series with the Deuteronomic assur- ance that God's way is holy as the end is sure. The truth is according to godliness. The grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, even the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.
Thus fittingly Paul's epistles close. We have yet before us the so-called Catholic Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
The Catholic Epistles.
It is not, surely, without significance that there are just eight writers of the New-Testament books; nor yet that there are just four for the seven catholic epistles. They have thus on the one side the numerical stamp of their division; on the other, the seal of perfection of that path through the world which they point out to us.
The number of their writers is that of their divisions also, and they stand with the apostle of the circumcision first: -
1. The Epistles of Peter.
When Israel journeyed through the wilderness, of all the holy things carried by the Levites, the ark went first.
No wonder, for it was the throne of God, as we all know, and to put it there was just to proclaim the Master they served, and themselves before all things (if they acted in character with this,) an obedient people.
Now this is just the theme of the epistles of Peter. No doubt, in a sense, every book of Scripture, and not one alone, insists upon obedience; but with Peter it is here the theme, and it is a great one; for not all that seems even devotedness is this, still less that "obedience of Christ" to which he speaks of those he addresses as being "sanctified," along with "the sprink- ling of blood;" so that the obedient ones are the blood-cleansed ones.
He speaks of them as elect, begotten to a living hope by Christ's resurrection, guarded through faith to salvation and an inheritance in heaven, their faith proved amid manifold trials ordained for praise at Christ's appearing. They are born again of the Word, children of obedience, redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and calling on the Father, who judges according to every man's work. Thus they are started with the Word their sustenance, and the knowledge of the Lord's grace, to show forth His praises in a world which has rejected Him.
They are to be subject to authorities, fill the relationships of life aright, do well, suffer for it and take it patiently, and if for Christ's sake, rejoice. Judgment, too, begins here at the house of God.
This is the character of Peter's first Epistle. It is God on the throne, though a throne of grace, and the Father He who sits there; we His elect, begotten of His Word, are to walk in obedience.
The second epistle views not only the sin that is in the world, but in the Church also, - rebellion against all authority, that men may freely indulge their lusts. Here the cross and the glory characterize the path; the glory attracts us on, virtue (or courage) is what is needed by the way. We must add to faith virtue, and so ripen the fruit God looks for. Christ is coming, and the day of the Lord will be the destruction of ungodly men.
James is the justification, not of the sinner by faith, as with Paul, but of the believer by his works; that is the justification of his faith itself, - not, therefore, before God, (who knows assuredly if it be real or not,) but before men. "A man may say, Thou hast faith and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works;" - it is impossible, - "and I will show thee my faith by my works." Thus it is the fruits of faith which are alone in question, not simply morality; Abraham offering up his son, Rahab betraying her country, are not this: they are the witnesses of faith, and valuable as that; "faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone."
The number of the epistle marks it thus as testimony: but testimony is toward man, not God. Abraham is justified by faith in Gen. xv., alone under the stars with God. But Abraham is justified by works when, long afterward, he offers Isaac up upon the altar. Then it is "ye see how faith wrought with his works."
The testing of this may seem at times minute. If you put the poor man in a poor place in your syna- gogue, how can you have recognized the glory of the Lord of glory? It is a question of faith, and where does faith see poverty or riches?
Another characteristic of James connected with this is patience. It is the fruit of faith distinctly, and what the trial of faith works. Therefore blessed is he who endureth trial. Only let patience have her perfect work, and you are perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. This too is covered by the number 2, which speaks of the low place before God, - not active obedience, but passive subjection.
Then the Word is what governs the soul. There is the mirror in which you are to see yourself. Your speech, too, - your own words - are a special test. Thus the general drift, and the details also, of James' epistle agree with its numerical place.
3. The Epistles of John.
John speaks of the manifestation, not of faith as such, but of that eternal life which, as divine life, produces in us the signs of our parentage. God is light and God is love: thus the life in us will display itself as love and righteousness. This is the general character of the first epistle.
But for this he introduces us first into the sanctuary where God is revealed, - not merely light, but "in the light." There the light must reveal us to ourselves, and the precious blood put away the sins revealed. To be "in the light" becomes thus for John the definition of a Christian. The blood-cleansing does not extend beyond the limits of the light in which we are.
The second epistle connects the love and light together, emphasizing the side of light, or truth.
The third epistle connects them also, but emphasizing ' the love. Love to the brethren is in John a very special manifestation of "having passed from death unto life." The second epistle deals with the question of evil as against Christ - of antichristianity.
Jude closes this series sadly with the warning of the departure of the Church from holiness and subjection to the Lord, so that at His appearing the ungodly ones long prophesied of as subjects of His judgment will be found within the Church itself. But the Lord will preserve His own, and mercy and peace be multiplied to them.
The Book of Revelation.
And now we come to Revelation, the one book of New Testament prophecy, but which goes beyond the Old entirely. Notice, however, it is not in the New Testament a third division, but a fifth, and this for a very beautiful and obvious reason.
In the Old Testament, prophecy alone could lead the people of God into things which yet could not be proclaimed as present. A very characteristic text is, what the apostle quotes from Isaiah himself, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." But that is not now our condi- tion, as the apostle's comment upon it shows: "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
Most fittingly, therefore, do the epistles of Paul, in which the fullness of truth (see Col. i. 25) is given, take the place in the New Testament held by prophecy in the Old. But the place of Revelation is none the less a most blessed and significant one. It is a magnificent summing up - solemn, yet glorious, - of the divine ways with man; of the history of the Church and of the world alike; while beyond - as Israel from the plains of Moab could view their inheritance - our "foundation of peace," our Jerusalem, is shown to us, - her foundation in the displayed perfections of God Himself. Thus the sevens of the book, as I have already said, proclaim God's full accomplishment of all that has been in His heart so long. Here revelation closes, its volume is complete: what is beyond is sight, and the glory of God forever.
I have completed, then, for the present, my task. You must for yourselves, dear brethren, examine and judge if what I set myself to do, God's mercy has permitted me. For myself, it is evident that the numerical seal is on all Scripture, the witness of its completeness and of its perfect inspiration; but also a guide to the interpretation of the Word of a value possibly beyond all present thought. I trust that the Lord will permit me in His grace, if He tarry yet, to show you something that I have seen of this. But the book itself is before us all. It needs and invites the research of all. It is this that the slight outline I have given may, I trust, be used for. If God has been at pains to write His Word after this manner, it is that we may profit by it. If He has given us here a new field of labour, rich with the most wonderful possibilities, shall we or shall we not avail ourselves of it? Who will go into the Lord's harvest-field? - Who? And may indeed the harvest be of joy and praise and abundant blessing, for Christ's sake.