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church, are nothing so glorious and majestic as they shall be seen in these latter days of full maturity. And this is the reason why the vision of the virgins bath about it such excellent glory : for, being the first-fruits of the harvest, they must be as the harvest is : the children of the kingdom come unto the stature of manhood, the church filled with all the fulness of God. It is one and the same house which hath strong foạndations and massive buttresses at its base, plain and unadorned walls, with doors of access, and windows for the entering in of light, architraves and pinnacles for beauty and for glory at the outgoings of its summit. Now, the Apostles and their brethren were the mighty foundations ; the saints gathered in the intervening ages were the smooth and polished, yet unadorned, stones of the wall; and the witnesses who are now gathering by the Master Builder, are stones for beauty and for grandeur, with which to finish the whole building in graceful majesty. It is the same tree whose roots grasp the earth and the rocks in their strong embrace, whose trunk riseth up in plain and stately strength, and whose spreading top beareth the leafy branches and abundant fruit. Now, what the harvest is to the seasons of the year, what the adorned key-stone and centre is to the arch, and what the rich pediments and cornices and other stones of beauty are to the building, such are the virgins, as I take it, to the body of Jesus,--the chiefest manifestation of its glory, the choicest exhibition of its beauty: yet not on that account to boast itself over the other members, but meekly to be satisfied with the portion of His fulness which they are honoured to bear. And I believe, that as the full grown ear of harvest draweth up into itself all the service of the root and of the blade and of the corn in the ear; so the virgin state of the church shall use up
all the materials contained in the primitive church, and all subsequent ages thereof until their own time. The Lord will manifest these things more fully as the events disclose themselves, but at present I feel convinced, that the primitive church, with all its planting by men like Paul, and watering by men like Apollos, was to the church that is breaking out from the casements of Babylon but as the corn in the blade, when compared with the ripe and full-grown ear; just as the opposition offered to the primitive church was but brute force, when compared with that panoply of heavenly delusion with which Satan is now arraying himself, under the fair names of evangelical, liberal, free, and merciful institutions. And as the priests went out from Jerusalem, and on the earliest spots by the brook of Cedron did gather ears of corn as they were found ripened, here and there, to make up the sheaf of first-fruits, to the end the people might not be prevented reaping the harvest in all the coasts of Israel ; so now is the sealing of the 144,000, here one and there another, by
the Spirit of the Father, to the intent they may be presented before God by translation into his heavenly temple, and come with him to reap the harvest which they sowed : for as he that sowed first, is first amongst the reapers, so shall it be with them also ; and that word shall be fulfilled, " Both he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together.”
Moreover, they are said to be not only the first-fruits of the harvest, but the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb:-unto God, as being sealed with the name of the living God; in whom the glory of the Father's name is all revealed, and his mighty power shewed forth in all love, long-suffering, righteousness, holiness, and judgment;-unto the Lamb, as being his followers, his faithful followers, in the midst of the universal apostasy of the church, and the beast-worship of all the world. Inasmuch as they are servants of God, they are sealed from the wrath of the Lamb: inasmuch as they are followers of the Lamb, they have the Father's name written on their foreheads. First-fruits they are unto that God, whom the Lamb doth glorify and set forth as the only object of worship unto man; first-fruits they are unto the Lamb, as being faithful unto that name which God hath given under heaven among men, whereby they must be saved. It is the mystery of the indwelling of the Father and the Son in the flesh of mortal men, who therefore are able to sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and of the Lamb; for servants of God they are like the man Moses, to put forth the terrors and thunders of his power; but sons of God like the Lamb, to shine forth with all the effluence of his love ;servants, to lift the rod and smite the earth with as many plagues as they will; sons, in whom the Father's love may be seen without evil ;-servants for obedience, sons for love ;-prophets of God, to hew the nations with the words of their mouth; priests of the Lamb, to anoint them with the oil of health and joy ;-the olive-trees for oil, which maketh the face of man to shine; the candlesticks, to stand before the God of the whole earth, and to fill it with His glory. Oh the mystery, the mystery of the church in the latter days! how she shall smite the four corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Seth ! Oh the mystery of God and of the Lamb, manifested in the witnesses, who have in them, not only a revealed manifestation of the Lamb as God of love, the God of harmless love; but also the hidden mystery of the unmanifested Godhead of the Father ! Deep, deep they dwell, in the unfathomable abyss of his wisdom and power, fetching forth things unseen, unheard as yet upon the earth, yet close and undeviating from the footsteps of the Lamb, the manifested God: whom Jesus in the flesh revealed, and in the Spirit on Pentecost did further manifest; but new glories, new functions of the Father unseen, of the Son revealed, remain to be manifested in the sealed ones. Oh! it was marred in the
beginning by the mystery of iniquity : they came not to the stature of the perfect man: the church, instead of ripening into the full ear, fell back into the blade, and is descended into the rottenness of the seed; but it shall not be so for ever; there is a harvest unto God and to the Lamb, when the grain shall be like that seed of corn which once fell into the earth, and was taken up into the throne of God. As he is so shall we be—he one, we many in one-for the Lord will not be defeated for ever; his word standeth fast; the world shall yet become blessed with salvation; saviours shall come up upon the mount of Esau-they shall be many, and yet they shall be one; and by our unity in word and deed over the wide world, it shall be known that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of glory, the Lord of power, the Redeemer of the world, the Ruler of principalities and powers, the Prince of the kings of the earth, the Head of the church, the Fulness of the Godhead in a body.
Ver.5: “ And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”In their mouth was found no guile: they overcame him by the word of their testimony, because they speak not of themselves, but the Father and the Son speak within them. Their word is not their own, but the word of the Father and the Son, which dwelleth in them. They have attained unto the grace of not offending in word; and if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. They are the living revelation of the living word of God: they speak as the oracles of God. It is not a new calling, for to all these things are we called, but it is our high calling attained. Why should men doubt that the tongue of man can be used by its Creator for His own glory? Was it not so in the Prophets by whom the word of the Lord came which is contained in the Scriptures, whereof one jot or one tittle shall not pass away till all be fulfilled ? And wherefore should it not be so always in the members of Jesus Christ, who are predestinated to be conformed unto His image, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ? Hath not Jesus presented before us the example of the man whose every word
and holy as the word of the living and true God? yea, was he not the Word of God made flesh ? and hath not flesh, our flesh, our fallen mortal flesh, our tempted suffering flesh, had the blessed prerogative of bodying forth the infallible Word of God ? Are there any depths of the heart which the Son of God, that made it, sounded not; any obliquities which he straightened not; any errors which he corrected not ? Verily not one. His will, his mind, his heart, his tongue, did all harmoniously consent with God; and this which he accomplished in flesh, of being the faithful and true witness, he continueth in them; “ for in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of
God.” This is the condition to which Christ called his church, when he said “ Be ye perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect." And the provision for it standeth in this, that we are one in the Father and in him: “As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee :” “ I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” By oneness with Jesus we should have his faultlessness, as by oneness with Adam we have his faultiness; for we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, “ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ;” and our renewing is "after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness." It is, therefore, the most damnable blasphemy for any one to think of saying that God proposeth, or purposeth, we should continue with any blemish of sin upon us : for to this end hath he chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, even " that we should be holy and blameless before him in love : " which state of perfection in the divine life these sealed ones are here declared to have attained unto; in whom the purpose of God is accomplished ; and over whom he can say, “ In them I am well pleased.” The church hath ever lagged behind and held back from this holy estate to which the Holy Ghost, in the mouth of the Apostles, doth as constantly entreat her to come forward. It is her very calling: “ called to be saints : " and the meaning of the word saint is not partially holy, but entirely holy; being the word applied to God in the worship of the heavenly host, and to the child Jesus, and to the blessed Spirit. To this the end of our calling these sealed ones do attain : “ They are without fault before the throne of God.” The Apostles laboured hard to bring the church
up to this “ the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” And James, in particular, doth abjure the permission of one single sin in the people of God, saying, “ If we keep the whole law, and offend in one point, we are guilty of all :” and John, striking at the same Manichean licentiousness--that there was an evil principle in man, which God himself in this world cannot subdue--doth over and over again declare, that “ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This is the one pernicious error against which John's whole Epistle seems directed—to wit, that, let God do his best for man, man cannot be delivered from the inveterate habit of sinning; that a man may be a saint, and yet many parts a sinner. But the Spirit of the Lord in that same Epistle declareth : “ Little children, let no man deceive you : he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous : he that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” At the same time, the Apostle is careful to give the glory of this blamelessness to the blood of Jesus, and to
VOL. VI.-NO. I.
the forgiveness of God through faith therein. For there is an error on both hands : on the one side, of a conscience blinded through ignorance and wickedness; and on the other hand, of a hope darkened through ignorance and unbelief. A man may say, I have no sin ; such a one the Apostle declareth to be a liar, and the truth is not in him. But while the Apostle declareth this, he addeth, that“ if he confess his sin, God is faithful and just to forgive him his sin, and to cleanse him from all iniquity;" which being done, he is cleansed, and ought to sin no more: but if he do, then must he confess it again, and again receive absolution through the blood of Jesus. But if, being thus furnished with the power of righteousness, he do go on bringing forth thorns and briers, he is well nigh unto burning; and the teacher who alloweth and encourageth a man in this, is the minister of Satan, and no minister of Christ. In order to become sinless, a man must confess himself a sinner, and be cleansed from his sins in the blood of the Lamb: which blood is also the life of the Lamb, to flow through every region of the natural man, cleansing and quickening and producing the fruit of holiness. Now these sealed followers of the Lamb are such ones as have been washed in his blood, and are quickened by his life, and guided by his Spirit ; and sealed with the approbation and safe-keeping of the Father: and if God doth justify, who is he that condemneth? Oh, it is a melancholy, a miserable delusion of the serpent, to have persuaded all but the whole church that it is an utter impossibility to escape from the habit of sin : which, while it lasteth, produceth sins without bounds, and preventeth holiness, not only in part, but altogether : for Jesus will not be a partial holiness to any man-the man who taketh him for holiness must take him for complete and perfect holiness, must honour Jesus as the subduer and extirpater of all sin from flesh, or else be without any profit of his death and resurrection. hold, therefore, that the doctrine preached and received in the churches, to the effect that the saint should not, or need not, he perfect in holiness, is the subversion of Christ's work in the Alesh altogether, and the prevention of holiness in the believer altogether--not in part, but altogether ;—and wherever that root of error is held, not as an opinion, but as an article of faith, as a practical principle, it doth effectually seal the man up in sin, and keep him far away from the blood of Jesus, which will flow into no heart that honoureth it not as a complete death unto sin and life unto holiness. This is the practical form of atonement; not an indulgence for continual sinning, but an indwelling power of perfect holiness; and he who doth thus honestly believe, and keep in memory the thing which he believeth, shall doubtless triumph over all sin, and attain unto the purity and blamelessness of these sealed ones, in whose