Chapter 7 - Deliverance and Death to Sin


In taking up what is now before us, we shall be treading ground already plentifully trodden by the feet of combatants, and where we shall find ourselves under the necessity of recalling what has been elsewhere said, and in connection with the doctrines also which we are now reviewing. But the topic is one of such great importance for doctrine and for practice, and is still so little clearly understood by many who might be expected to be most clear, that it cannot be in vain to take it up once more, and in view of statements and arguments which it cannot but be for profit to appraise at their full worth, both scripturally and experimentally. The experimental test is necessarily of great value in a matter so eminently practical as this.

According to the writer whom, as in general, I shall quote here, "If I were to put the question, 'How is deliverance effected for the Christian from sin and from the world?' the natural answer would be, 'By death.' I admit it; it is effectuated in that way. But then the Christian has to die to it, and how is he to be brought to that? I dare say some would answer, 'We have died to it in the death of Christ.' That will not do. I say the death of Christ is your title to die to it, to die to one as to the other. 'Our old man has been crucified with Him '-that is your title to die to sin; and the world is crucified to the believer in the cross of Christ - that is your title to die to the world. I quite admit the title of the Christian to die by the death of Christ both to sin and to the world, but my present point is what it is that gives power in the soul to die to sin and to the world. I believe Scripture makes it very plain; if a Christian is going to travel that path, and to enter into the thought of God about him, he must be attracted by the grace of God and by what God presents.

There are two things in Scripture to which the Christian is said to die, sin and the world. In regard to law you are become dead to it; God has released you from one bond, and formed another. Then in regard to the flesh 'You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you;' that is the change that takes place in the Christian, he is no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit. You are never said to die to the flesh, that I know, but by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the body. But you can very well understand that in that case deliverance stands on a different basis. The law is compared to a husband; and you could not be free from law if God had not dissolved the bond. On the other hand you could not be in the Spirit, if you had not received the Spirit of God. But in regard to sin and the world we have to die.

I could not think of dying to sin if our old man had not been crucified with Christ. That is my title to die to sin. What I understand by it is that all that comes under the idea of our old man, what a man is as in the flesh, God has dealt with judicially in the death of Christ for Himself and for me too. If it were not so you could not die; if our old man had not been crucified in the cross of Christ, you would be on the footing of responsibility as to the old man; but our old man has been dealt with in the cross of Christ, that we might not be on that footing, but might be privileged to die with Christ."
Let us pause here, and try to get clearly hold of what is being taught us. The language is plainer than it often is, and there ought not to be much difficulty in arriving at the meaning, whatever we may think of the conclusion that we reach. The scripturalness of it will not be hard to settle either, when this is done.

Deliverance from sin, it is stated, is effected for the Christian by death - true; but not simply by Christ's death for him: this gives him title only to die to sin, the death which in fact delivers him. And in the same way exactly as to deliverance from the world. It is not the same as to deliverance from the law: here a bond existed which only God could dissolve; and therefore here he becomes dead by the body of Christ. Then as to the flesh, while you are not said to die to it, you must have received the Spirit to be in the Spirit; and that is (or shows?) your deliverance.

How far does this asserted difference exist? It is allowed that "our old man was crucified with Christ," -"was dealt with in the cross, "- and that that is equivalent to what we were as men in the flesh. This was "crucified," put to death, so that "we died with Christ," says the apostle; and He thus having died to sin (our sin) we are with Him dead to sin; our old man - we, such as we were in nature and in practice, were crucified, died, are dead, with Christ: our reckoning ourselves dead to sin is only simple acceptance in faith of a most blessed fact, which must be true before we reckon it, or we should have no right to do so. But thus we have no need of dying. We start with being dead, through the death of Another for us, but which is in this way our death. The reasoning of the apostle with regard to it (Rom. Vi. 7, 8) makes it perfectly plain in what way we are to understand this; for he argues that "he that has died is justified from sin "- so the Greek - and that "if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." He is speaking, therefore, of atonement and its results for us, not of any work in us. It is evident that our having died and being dead with Christ have, all through, the same meaning and application: there are not two deaths or two modes of dying. Our dying with Christ is not something accomplished by the energy of our own wills, - even of our renewed wills; and so the full significance of the change proposed for us becomes apparent. Change it is indeed; for no one can pretend that Scripture anywhere exhorts us to die with Christ; and it may be safely trusted to give us its own meaning, and not to leave us to the tender mercies of interpreters to supply us with more competent phraseology. We die to sin (we are told elsewhere) in reckoning ourselves dead! On the contrary, as surely as we do reckon ourselves dead, we cannot think of dying. Dead men do not die, but only living men. Scripture, perfect here as always, has given us the very contrary of the thought suggested to us, and in complete consistency with what we have seen of its argument all through. It could not bid us to die with Christ, because the dying with Christ of which it speaks is on the cross and the cross is, blessed he God, not a thing in any sense in the future, but an accomplished fact. We have to accomplish nothing, but to accept thankfully what is done. We can reckon it done, just because it is done: the death which is ours is that which Christ died; and therefore not a title for us to die,---which would mean of course, some other death. The apostle in bidding us reckon ourselves dead is not exhorting us to aught else than to set to our seal in faith to that which he has been proclaiming to us. It is a living faith he wants; not a cold assent to an orthodox creed. This surely we need to press, and shall always need; but not to exhort Christians to do what they cannot, and what needs not to be done, because it is done.

After all, it may be urged, are we not contending about a mere clumsy expression, when the same thing is meant at bottom? One would certainly be wrong in making a man an offender for a word, and are bound to give all the credit that one can to those who may in their very zeal for a godly walk have used strained arguments, and misinterpreted, perhaps, some texts of Scripture. But with the motives or influences which incline people to the views they hold we have nothing really to do; and we may easily make great mistakes about them. Besides, the misinterpretation of Scripture may have the most serious consequences, whatever the rightness of intention on the part of those who make it. The heart may indeed be better than the head; but that affects only the question of one's own responsibility. Error is that with which the enemy continually works, and which lie is constantly recommending by the respectability of its advocates. In this case there is a recklessness about the statements which involves a treatment of the word of God most dangerous in its character. We are not to say we have died to sin in the death of Christ: "that will not do;" although Christ died to sin, our old man was crucified with Him, and we died with Him! But again,- we are to say that we have to die to sin (which Scripture never says), and that His death gives us title to die to sin,- which it never says. Then comes up the very important question, how we are to find power to do what Scripture has never told us to do; and to do which is indeed, as is elsewhere said with regard to parting company with the first man, "not quite so easy as it may seem!" So this gap has to be filled. And exactly the same thing with regard to dying to the world; there is "leverage" needed to enable one to accomplish it. Here it is: "I believe that the apprehension that such a circle (the heavenly circle of the church) is revealed in Scripture, and the anxiety to reach it, encourages and strengthens a person to accept the place of death to the world, for if I am going to have part in that circle, all that binds me to the world must go." Paul was content to say in such a reference, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world ;" but the modern commentator has found that the cross is only title to die to the world, and not attractive power, and "believes" that he has found something more effective in the New Testament representation of the Church!

All this, alas, goes but too well with what we have heard from the same person, that if he had his life to live over again, he would study Scripture less! Evidently his study of it hardly yields satisfaction to himself. May one suggest to him that, if he did read it more (as he says he does not) "in the letter,"- if he attended more to its every jot or tittle, and thus showed it more the respect that the word of God should inspire, while there might be less of meteoric brilliancy in his expositions, there would yet be much more of what would command the confidence of those who require to know whence as well as what the teaching to which they bow may be.

But to return to what is (thank God) the unscriptural injunction that we die to sin; if that is to be the definition of our separation from it, who that knows the treachery of his own heart could ever satisfy himself as to his accomplishment of such a complete and absolute separation as is implied in death? How many of us would venture to claim being in such a condition? There is power for it, we are told, in the attraction of Christ as the Second Man! The plain answer is, that attraction is one thing, and power to fulfil what we desire is quite another. It is a strange thing to be told that what a Christian needs is to be "strengthened and encouraged to part company with sin." One can understand, alas, the conscience of a Christian being too little exercised with regard to the less manifest forms of it, and the hindrance to going on with God that is the necessary result of this; but in the man in the 7th of Romans, the specific case by which the apostle illustrates the need of deliverance, the lack of either will or exercised conscience is not what is supposed,but that when he would do good, evil was present with him: the thing which he hated still he did.

It may be said that it is deliverance from the law that is in question here. Of this we hope to speak at another time; yet it is evident that the "law of sin in the members," which the experience here reveals, is not produced by law, and has no essential relation to it. The inefficacy of the law to deal with it, (nay, the aggravation of the case by the would-be remedy,) is indeed insisted on, and the need of deliverance from law for any deliverance from the bondage of sin revealed by the experience is emphasized in a way which clearly the teacher before us does not understand. But the point before us is at present, that here is a man who, as is represented, needs no "encouragement to part company with sin," and yet cannot do it. Indeed the man who, without compulsion, yields himself to sin is dealt with by the apostle in another and much severer manner (Rom. vi. i6): "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey? whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" So that the apostle evidently does not consider the Christian as needing to be encouraged to part company with sin, but supposes the readiness to this to be implied in his conversion.

Spite of this, a death to sin is "not so easy as it may seem ;" and the effort to accomplish this is, in fact, the lure that, in some form of it or other, leads so many astray from God's true remedy. God must help us, of course; that is easily conceded; but God does not help us to produce in ourselves the state we are seeking to find satisfaction in; and, on the other hand, He has already done for us what, when in faith we lay hold of it, is effectual deliverance. "Our old man has been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin may be annulled, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that has died is freed (or justified) from sin." We are in Christ before God; and while we identify ourselves in faith with Him, the whole difficulty that we had drops away and is gone. His death is not our title to die in some other way, but is that in which we died, and died to sin, because He, our Substitute, died to sin once for all. "In Him is no sin;" and "he that abideth in Him sinneth not." He is the storehouse of every blessing for us, upon whom as in Him the favour of God continually rests; and as we are in Him, identified with Him, before God, so is He in us, identified with us, in the world. He is in heaven for our interests, which are thus amply, and beyond all need of anxiety, secured in Him; while we have the privilege of being here for Him. In proportion to the simplicity of our faith in receiving this will be our realization of peace, and joy, and power over circumstances, as well as over the sin in us that still remains, and remains to make self-confidence impossible to us, and Christ our continual necessity and dependence.

For deliverance from the practical dominion of sin, we must of necessity be delivered from the law; and therefore the order of truth in the sixth and seventh chapters of the epistle to the Romans. Deliverance from the law and the necessity of this are dwelt upon in the seventh chapter; where the great point is that being under law means self-occupation in a religious way, the attempt to make something of that from which God would turn us away; and in which we find ourselves confronted with an unmanageable evil rooted in our very nature as born of Adam, and from which God Himself does not, in the way we look for it, come in to deliver us. Alas! pride tends ever to come in by the natural and conscientious endeavour to be right with God carried out by legal ordinances and self-culture,with all forms of asceticism superadded. God's remedy for all is the eye off self and upon Christ, with the apprehension, as given by the Spirit,of our identification with Him, so as to make God's delight in Him the joy in which we dwell, and thus the power by which in self-forgetfulness we live and serve Him.

We have therefore only to express our cordial and entire agreement with the teaching we are now examining that the true lesson of the law is that of one's own powerlessness. It is curiously put as a supposition, though it is to be hoped that the writer does not mean that it is no more than that with him: "I suppose it works in this way, that law brings home to a man the truth of his own utter powerlessness. That is the lesson to be learnt; I do not care how it is learnt, in all probability by law, but it has to be learnt." It is evident, one would say, that the apostle expected it to be learnt in that way; and that law is so entirely the human method of religious accomplishment that, apart from the revelation of God in the matter, we have no reason to imagine any excogitation of another. But we need not dwell upon this: so far we are glad to agree with him that the entire "end of the law" is Christ.

When we come, however, to the necessary question as to what is the practical outcome of this for us, we find our agreement soon reaching its end, and a doctrine laid down which we have already sketched, but which is being pressed with continual earnestness, and (one must say) audacity. It is undoubtedly the root of the whole system presented to us. We have, of course, things inconsistent with it presented to us too; if it were given clean cut and with entire consistency, it is hardly to be thought that Christians could go on with it as they manage to do now; but this evasive character belongs naturally to the devious ways of error wherever found, a kind of Jesuitism which may be perhaps unconscious, but which all the more does its work. One may boldly assert that it passes the power of man to reconcile the different statements made. When for instance we have the question directly asked,- a question apt enough if we consider the many depreciatory remarks about it,-" What is the use of Scripture to us?" we are comforted and quieted by the assurance: "It is for doctrine, and is a guard to us, and it is a very important point in regard to it that our minds are thus kept from getting out of bounds." Yet none the less confidently is it declared that if you go to it for doctrine, it only shows you are not yet delivered from the law! Here are the words:
"This question of law is a very great hindrance to many of us, and I think it takes us a long time to get free of law. I will tell you how it works - people go to the Scriptures to find exhortations and rules; they want chapter and verse, as they say commonly, for their doctrine, and they want precepts for their conduct. That is all legality, it is the letter, and I think people are uncommonly fond of the letter; they go to Scripture in that sense to a large extent."

So, though Scripture is "for doctrine," to go to it for doctrine is legality! and although it is a very important point that by it our minds are kept from getting out of bounds, yet where the bounds are in this case is a mystery which must remain a mystery. When it is suggested that "the unsearchable riches of Christ are accorded to us by the Scriptures," that supposition is promptly repelled with a "No; you cannot get them except by the Spirit"! Who ever thought you could? But are they communicated to us apart from those inspired Scriptures the possession of which has been thought of as furnishing us with all the mind of God for His people here? But "The idea of the word of God is, that God puts Himself into direct communication with man. . . . A man preaches effectually only what he has learned from God, not from what he has found in Scripture."

These things are put in fullest opposition; and yet what a man supposes he has learned from God is to be kept from getting out of bounds by what he has learned, not from God, but from Scripture! "I do not think people learn exactly from Scripture, but from the Spirit of truth, but the more familiar people are with the Scripture the better; because a man's mind is thus continually pulled up in its tendency to go beyond the limit"! To make the contradiction more complete and absolute, it is the same person who says, "I claim only the light of Scripture." Thus, though of course, he did not find it in Scripture, the light of Scripture is all he has! He was taught it, perhaps, independently; and then taught that it was all the while in Scripture, although he himself did not find it there, and "effectually" no one could. There is thus a continually fresh revelation being made to souls, not derived from Scripture, and which yet Scripture gives them authority to press on others, although it cannot, of course, teach others what it did not teach them, and people are legal and wrong if they go to Scripture for doctrine at all! Surely, as the wise man says, "The legs of the lame are not equal."

And after all it may be doubted whether any of us know what deliverance from law is, even the one who is teaching it to others. He has been himself studying Scripture, (only too much, he thinks,) and all his teaching he finds in Scripture, and only thus can press it with authority on others. How can he himself know for how much he is really indebted to this, which has thus been floating in his mind, and which he recommends us all to be familiar with? Really it seems as if the only thing that we could be quite sure he did not learn from Scripture is just this doctrine of his not learning from it. A good deal more, however, will be found to be involved in this.

It is legality also, we are told, to go to Scripture for precepts as much as doctrine. Precepts there surely are, in the New just as well as in the Old Testament: is it meant that we are not to listen to them? Well, at any rate, we are not to go to it for them. Are we to be taught them outside of Scripture? But then we must go to Scripture, to find out if our minds are betraying their natural tendency to get out of bounds! Nay, it would seem that we must be taught even more decisively by Scripture thus, than we have been already taught without it. Yet this primary teaching is supposedly by the Spirit of God, which after all we cannot rightly accept save under the "guard" of Scripture! What a wilderness of perplexity and unreality it is, which nevertheless cannot escape from the control of what the Spirit of God has provided for us all, except as, alas, this loose and careless slighting of the Spirit's instrumentality may enable us to leap the "bound," and follow our own thoughts with little check from aught beyond them.

And this is sure to be the result where (although it is confessedly good to be familiar with it) the study of Scripture is treated lightly: "a Bible student is not much after all." Aye, but "if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Prov. ii. 1-5). Where but in Scripture shall we search, where find, after this fashion? Let us set then these human thoughts within the so necessary bounds which befit them.

Notice once more, that the precepts of the epistles were never anything else than part of Scripture. They address themselves directly to the heart and conscience of those to whom they were addressed. Precepts as they were, they were not legal; or else the great apostle who gave us the lesson of deliverance from the law made a terrible mistake. We at least will not charge him with it. He knew surely also, that the Spirit must act through the written Word in order that it may be effectual, whether for sinner or saint; yet that did not hinder him from claiming the most absolute obedience to what he wrote; and that obedience is no less due from us than from them. It is not merely that we are in a loose way to have it before us, but to learn from it, and to give heed as to the voice of the Lord Himself: "If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (i Cor. xiv. 37). The Spirit of God does not come in between, to make this a degree less direct or decisive, but to give it all its power for the subject soul.

IT is not my purpose to pursue the doctrines which we have been considering much further. The fundamental point as to the Person of the Lord has been already and by others sufficiently gone into. We are told that the Lord was not personally man, but man only in condition. His Spirit seems to be spoken of always as His deity which tabernacled in a human body. Thus He was not Man in the truth of His nature, as we understand man, or as He, in the way in which Scripture constantly speaks, is represented as able to enter into the full realization of manhood apart from sin. The Christ presented to us, if a man at all, is truly another man, far other than the One "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," the One "crucified through weakness," now "living by the power of God." But I do not intend to enter upon this further now.

There is yet one thing which should be considered before we close,- a doctrine which is indeed, as it would seem, rather shaping itself than already having received its final shape, but which, nevertheless, presents certain features that can be distinctly enough set forth. It is, in fact, a new ritualism, a sacramental doctrine which, however, in contrast with most doctrines of this character, lowers instead of exalting this so necessary sacrament itself. The doctrine is, in other words, that the sanctuary in which we approach God in the assembly, come together, with the Lord in His place; and the Lord's supper is the way into it, it is the introductory act into the assembly. Once in the assembly your worship becomes of another and distinctly higher character. It is a distress to have hymns and praises expressing the worship of the sanctuary in connection with the remembrance of the Lord in the supper or before this. The supper is the way in which He makes His presence good to and felt by us. When He instituted it, He was about to leave His own after the flesh, and shows them how He would make good His presence to them after He left them. It is a question whether the remembrance of Him connects itself with the sufferings at all. It is calling Him to mind. The instant you call Him to mind, you call Him to mind as the living One. It is the Person. The bread and the wine set before us death accomplished, not accomplishing. One would be slow to make limitations, to prevent the heart travelling over all His sorrows, but we must have it set in the right direction.

In some expressions of this doctrine there is, in fact, a perfect confusion between the remembrance of Him and His presence in the assembly; but it is agreed that as soon as the supper is ended you are in the assembly proper. The praises assume a new character, a character of worship in a higher sense than you were capable of before. In fact, now the sanctuary is open to you, although this must be a practical realization for each one; as to the mass of those gathered, a realization little found, but it is what we are now invited to. Outside of the gathering of the assembly you may have a sense of boldness, but you cannot really enter into the sanctuary except when gathered together, because all is dependent upon Christ, upon the place which He has taken, and it is in the midst of the church that He gives praise unto God; that is, He does not sing with you individually. You sink your individuality in the assembly. His presence makes it the holiest.

This will suffice at present for the doctrine. In taking it up, let us first of all consider how Scripture puts these various subjects before us, the manner of its doing this having great importance, as we shall see. The doctrine we are considering is evidently based largely indeed upon a supposed order of Scripture, - the order in the first of Corinthians. You find there the supper first, then you go on to the assembly and the various gifts exercised according to God. It is admitted, however, that Corinthians omits this very important view of the "sanctuary." The sanctuary constituted by the gathering of the saints is, in fact, nowhere in it, nor the worship of this highest sort, of which we are told. This is noted, indeed, by the advocates of this view. It is explained very simply by the fact that the Corinthians were too unspiritual for the apostle to enter into it with them, so that the omission of what is essential to the doctrine is quite easy to be understood

To find the doctrine you must go on to Hebrews; only in Hebrews, in fact, you don't find it either. In Hebrews you have, as is evident, no gathering of the assembly as such at all, no constitution of the gathered saints into the sanctuary, no supper of the Lord as introducing you in. All these things, Scripture in the most distinct way, and surely with divine wisdom, has separated widely from one another, in order that there may be no possibility of founding a ritualistic doctrine upon anything for which it can be really quoted. The simplicity of Scripture as to all this is indeed of the most striking sort. No doubt you have in Corinthians the assembly as the temple of God, but it is not connected with worship in any way whatever. Both in the first and second epistles, the doctrine is given to show you the holiness that attaches to the assembly and to warn against any thing that would be a profanation of this. When we come to the supper, you have what is simplicity itself. It is the remembrance, not of a living, but of a dead Lord. We show the Lord's death. Living He is, surely; if He were not, all this would be in vain, but it is not as living we remember Him. This is the confusion which, as we know, Romanism has made, but which it is strange to find continued by those who are almost at the other extreme from it. Nothing is plainer than that the bread and the wine signify for us the body and blood of Christ, the body and blood separate, a dead Christ and not a living One. You remember Him, you don't realize His presence with you; that is not the way it is put, but the very opposite.

You remember the past in the present. It is a past indeed, which presents the One who is a living Person in the most blessed way to the soul. His death is that which surely expresses His love in its fullest, in His gift of Himself for us. Nevertheless, we are looking back, not forward. We are looking down, if you please, not up. Our fellowship is the fellowship of His body and of His blood. The blood presented to us in memorial is, nevertheless, that which was most distinctly shed in the past. He is not entered as flesh and blood into heaven. He is not with us now in that character upon the earth. Yet we know Him by what He was upon the earth, and in no way more deeply than in all this story of His love-death for us to which the supper recalls us. Think of being told that the highest character of worship cannot be rightly found in connection with that in which the Lord's heart is told out as in nothing else! Yet this is only the threshold. It is only the way in. We must leave it behind and get beyond it, although in the Acts the disciples were gathered together to break bread,- not by means of the breaking of bread to do something else. The breaking of bread was the object of the gathering, and how simple is the language used ever ! - "the breaking of bread." With all the wonderful implications there are in it for us, yet how sedulously does Scripture keep us to the most perfect simplicity about it! We are not even told that we gather together to worship God. It is sufficient, it expresses all that need be said, to say that we are gathered together to remember Christ,- on the resurrection day indeed, but to look back upon His death. Resurrection is surely needed in order to put the remembrance in its right place, but to say that we must get past the remembrance in order to enter into the worship aright, is the most presumptuous violation of Scripture and of all propriety for the Christian soul that one could think of, as committed by those who own, nevertheless, what Christ's death is for them.

When we come to the assembly afterwards in the fourteenth chapter of i Corinthians, we have the regulation of gift in its exercise for the edification of the assembly. We have no doctrine of the assembly as the sanctuary at all. It is not even worship that is spoken of. It is ministry; and that so clearly that there cannot be a possibility of question as to it. If, therefore, the way in which these truths are put together has any meaning for us, the ritualism which is now intruding amongst those who might be thought the freest from it, can have no place. When we go on to Hebrews, as already said, there is no gathering of the assembly as such, that is contemplated at all. The approach to God in the holiest is entirely separated from every question of circumstances. It is as open, so far as Hebrews leads us, to the individual saint anywhere, as it is to the assembly; and how important it is to realize this; for the rent veil, (which indeed is denied to be in Hebrews at all,) is that which is the very characteristic of Christianity itself. It is that in which the true light already shines for us and which is the sign of the full liberty of worship that belongs to us now, as those no more at a distance, but brought near to God. Our drawing near does not depend upon a meeting, but it depends upon power in the Spirit alone. We have access through Christ, by one Spirit, unto the Father.

It is surely true that Christ, in the midst of the Church, gives praise unto God. No doubt it is true that we are able by grace to be in fellowship with Him in these praises of His,- nay, in our measure to express them as gathered together. Nevertheless, that is an inference, and not a direct scripture doctrine. The doctrine is that it is He who in the midst of the assembly,- not by means of the assembly,- gives praise to God. As we find it in the twenty-second psalm it refers indeed to the gathering of the disciples after His resurrection when they are put into the place in which His work has set them. The praises at that time were surely His alone. Let us make whatever inferences are legitimate from it. No Christian will make any objection to that, but every right minded Christian will make an objection to having an inference forced upon him as a doctrine of such weighty import as is supposed, and which is used, in fact, to divert him from the very object for which the assembly comes together, which is to remember Him. In Hebrews there is no supper and no assembly. We have a blessed way of access to God. There is a new and living way which He has opened for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. It is remarkable that where, in the doctrine before us, we have the gathering of the saints, as in Corinthians, there is no sanctuary worship, and that where we have the sanctuary worship, as in Hebrews, it is denied that there is a rent veil, and therefore a way of access in that way at all. The fact is we are told that the object of Hebrews is to give us boldness to enter, but there we stop. There is no entrance actually spoken of; yet we are of course to enter, but the very idea of entering through the veil, it seems, shows that the veil is not rent. How it shows it will be a mystery to most, probably, to understand. It is quite true the veil is not looked at as put away, but that we do enter through it. The veil is the flesh of Jesus, and the entrance is made for us by His death. We enter by the veil, but by a way of access opened for us through it. Where is the contradiction between the rent veil being there, and our entering through?

But this unrent veil in Hebrews has another purpose in the view that is held. It cuts off still the holy place from the holiest, only with this effect, that the holy place, the place of the table, the candlestick and the shew-bread, has dropped out now. It is Jewish and we have nothing to do with it. All that you have in the present time is the holiest. You have no holy place. That has no present standing; and if it is still said that Christ is the the Minister of the sanctuary,- or, as we are reminded we ought to take it, as the Minister of the holy places, that has a sort of general reference, wider of course than Christianity, in order expressly to guard against the thought of the holy place having any reference to the Christian. It has been asked, why does it say, then, that Christ entered into the holy place with His own blood? but that is very simply settled. It is supposed that that means the holiest. There is no other word for holiest and you must take it in its connection; and if it be asked, did not the rending of the veil bring the holy place and the holiest together? it is answered, the ground taken is that the first tabernacle has no standing. Therefore you have nothing left except the holiest.

Now the doctrine of Hebrews is, in fact, quite otherwise. "The first tabernacle," as the apostle says, was practically the holy place for Israel. They could not (except the high-priest, on one day in the year) enter into the holiest at all. There was a first tabernacle that they could enter, and a second tabernacle that they could not enter. This first tabernacle, as such, has necessarily come to an end by the rending of the veil. The moment the veil is rent you have a holy place which is formed of the two holy places contemplated before. The first, as first, has come to an end. There is for us no first tabernacle; that is true; but as the word really is, we have "boldness to enter into the holy places by the blood of Jesus." That is the express doctrine as taught in Hebrews itself, that the holy place exists still,- nay, the holy places; while indeed they are one for us. Thus it is that Christ entered by His own blood into the holy place. It is sufficient to say that, while this holy place is by that very fact holy and holiest all in one, thus we have liberty to draw nigh indeed, and we enter not by some new experience of our own about it, but simply "by the blood of Jesus." This in its essence abides for us as Christians wherever we may be,- alone, together, in the assembly, or in our daily walk. It is the character of Christianity; and we are not Christians at certain times or occasions, but we are Christians all the time. A "better hope" has come in for us than the law could give men, for the law made nothing perfect, but we now, by Him who has entered into God's presence for us, draw nigh to God.

In a word, all this ritualism is a plain invention. Neither Corinthians nor Hebrews knows anything of it. Let anyone take simply the passages in which the Lord's supper is spoken of, and let them realize the impression that is made upon them by the deepest consideration that they can give such things.

The simplicity of Scripture appeals to us all and would put the simplest believer into his place with God, privileged to be a worshiper, not through any attainment of his own, but through the work of Another. The constant aim of all that view of things that we have been considering is aristocratic. It is to make a distinct class amongst Christians, to comfort some perhaps with the thought of how much they have attained, to occupy others with themselves after another fashion, and put them practically at a distance.

It is not Christ Himself that in all this is rightly set before the soul, but our experiences with regard to Him; which indeed the Spirit of God works in us as our eyes are upon Christ and our hearts realize His love, but which are put in the wrong place, so that, in fact, we lose very much that which it is the apparent effort to make us gain. Let us keep Scripture as God has given it to us, surely best so, and let us not supplement it with thoughts to which Scripture may perhaps be supposed to give the limit, lest we should go astray, but which Scripture itself has not inspired.