Like those Emmaus travellers we go
Forth from the city-gate of things below; Christ
at our side, His Scripture for our light, Here burning
hearts and there the beatific sight.
Already I have broken ground to some
extent in the all-important subject of private Bible
Study. Let me now put before my reader and Brother
a few more detailed remarks and suggestions on that
subject. Such is the holy Book, and such is the
variety of possible modes of study, that all I can
dream of doing is to touch some parts and sides of
the matter which present themselves with special impressiveness
to my own mind, or which experience of the needs of
friends has suggested to me somewhat particularly.
To discuss the sacred problems of
Scripture Inspiration is not my purpose here.
Elsewhere I have attempted to deal with some of
them. All I would do here is, in view of what
is truly a “present necessity,” to ask
my Brethren, very deliberately, not to be in haste
to take up with the last and boldest word of what
is called the Higher Criticism (I speak particularly
now of its application to the Old Testament), as if
its “advances” were always towards light
and fact. I have no complaint against the term
Higher Criticism, which has a recognized place in
literary technical language, denoting that familiar
and lawful process, the study of books not for their
grammar and style only, but in order to infer from
their whole phenomena what their age is, and their
structure, and their character. The Higher Criticism
is a term pointing not to methods and results transcending
ordinary intelligence, but to a study which aims “higher”
than grammatical and textual questions considered as
final. And thus of course the most earnest defender
of the supernatural character of the Scriptures may
be, and very often is, as diligent a “higher
critic” as the extremest anti-supernaturalist.
A PLEA FOR CAUTION.
It is not its definition in the abstract
but its actual work and spirit, as seen in many leading
instances, which constrain me to enter an earnest
protest against a too easy confidence in this criticism
of, particularly, the Old Testament Scriptures.
It is “a thing to give us pause” when
we are asked to accept it as proved, or at least as
extremely probable, that righteous Abel is a myth;
that there was little, if any, monotheism before Abraham;
no theophany at Sinai; no Wilderness-Tabernacle; no
record of the conquest of Canaan written till long
generations after the event; not much written record
at all till Samuel; few, if any, Psalms before the
age of the Captivity, if not before the age of the
Maccabees; certainly two if not more Isaiahs, and
probably hardly one Daniel; at least, that the book
bearing his name dates from the second century before
Christ, and is in fact a Palestinian story-book which
has not, perhaps, even a nucleus of history within
it. It ought to make us stop and think when we
are told that Isaiah did not predict coming events;
indeed (for the drift of this teaching goes very strongly
in that direction), that predictive prophecy is hardly
to be recognized anywhere; that it is better out of
our thoughts; that it is but “soothsaying”
after all, and that the true work of the prophet was
not to fore-tell but to “forth-tell,”
to proclaim present and eternal principles, which
again were not revealed to him from above but arrived
at by intuitions and meditations within his own consciousness.
It is a grave thing to be asked to believe, as many
would have us do, that such was the lack of feeling
for veracity in ancient Judah that Hilkiah, Jeremiah,
and Huldah could arrange for the “discovery”
of a fabricated Deuteronomy, and then (see the narrative
in the Second Book of Kings) [xxi-20.] get the
prophetess to follow up the fabrication with awful
denunciations all fulfilled in
the name of THE LORD Himself. Such theories we
are asked to hold in face of our Master Christ’s
deliberate, persistent, manifold testimony to the
supernatural character and authority of the
Old Testament; to the solidity of its records of fact,
to the reality of its predictive element on
which He stayed His sacred soul in Gethsemane, and
on the Cross itself. It is no longer a question
of details, an inquiry whether the numerals are invariably
authentic and accurate; whether the minute particulars
of a king’s death as told in Chronicles tally
with the account in Kings. It is a question whether
the Old Testament at large is not a singularly and
flagrantly untrustworthy record. It is a question
whether its literature as a whole is not to be explained,
practically, by “natural causes”; including
a causation by deliberate, elaborate, and interested
A GRAVE ALTERNATIVE.
Is it too much to say that the alternative
has come to be this: Was our Lord Himself right
or very gravely wrong about the nature of Scripture?
Did the Spirit of Pentecost guide the Apostles into
all truth, or leave them under a vast illusion in
this central matter of their witness? “Do
not follow this Book, young men; follow Christ”:
so said a speaker of high Christian reputation, holding
up a Bible, before a great gathering in America, not
long ago. But what does this mean? Christ
carries the Book in His hand; if you follow Him you
must follow it. If you decline to follow the
Book, your following Him is a following so
far as at present you agree with Him, and not further.
WITNESSES FOR SCRIPTURE.
Meantime, what are some facts of the
case, facts not nearly so well remembered now as they
should be? One comprehensive fact is that the
testimony of nature and of history goes, as a whole,
to affirm the veracity of the Scripture records, and
to do so more and more pointedly as research advances.
In a remarkable recent essay by the Duke of Argyll
(Nineteenth Century, January, 1891), the growing
accumulation of geological evidence for a Great Flood,
affecting at least the northern hemisphere, and falling
within the human period, is forcibly set out by a
master hand. In the same paper is indicated the
fast-gathering evidence, now digging up month by month
from the soil of Palestine, to the accuracy of the
picture of Canaan drawn in the Pentateuch and Joshua.
The Ordnance Survey of Sinai has amply shown that the
geology of the peninsula confirms down to minute details
the record in Exodus. And now the Oxford Arabic
Professor is making it, at the least, extremely likely
that the Hebrew written two centuries before Christ
was more modern by many generations than that presented
by the Book of Daniel.
I am only indicating and suggesting.
Remembering the curiously similar history of New Testament
criticism during the recent past, some of its stages
running out their course within my own memory, I cannot
but think, looking from the merely literary view-point,
that the days are not far off when the now powerful
theories of revolutionary criticism will seem improbable.
And so I ask my younger Brethren at least to pause
before going with the strong, deep stream.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL QUOTED.
Let me quote a few sentences from the Duke of Argyll’s
THE WORK OF THE SPADE.
“The assumption ... that precision
in research is undermining the credit of the Hebrew
Scriptures, is a presumption almost comically at variance
with fact. There is, in particular, one ‘weapon
of precision’ which has of late been working
wonders in precisely the opposite direction. That
weapon is the spade. And what has it been unearthing?
Everywhere over that narrow strip of our planet on
which its human interests have been most impressive
and profound everywhere from Tyre and Sidon,
from Carmel and Lebanon, on the west, to Babylon and
Nineveh and the boundary mountains of Assyria on the
east the spade has been disentombing continuous
and triumphant proof of the genuine antiquity and historical
character of the Jewish books.... Only the other
day Mr Flinders Petrie has told us how the spade has
uncovered those impregnable walls of the Amorite cities
which were reported to invading Israel by the spies
“I may be permitted to express
a very strong opinion that in recent years Christian
writers have been far too shy and timid in defending
one of the oldest and strongest outworks of Christian
theology. I mean the element of true prediction
in Hebrew prophecy. It may be true that in a
former generation too exclusive attention had been
paid to it.... But the reaction has been excessive
and irrational. A great mass of connected facts,
and of continuous evidence, remains which
cannot be gainsaid. Even if the greater prophets
can be brought down to the very latest date which
the very latest fancies can assign to them, they depict
and predict overthrows and vast revolutions in the
East which did not take place for centuries”
The analysis of prophetic consciousness
may be, and in a great measure is, impossible.
But the facts of prediction remain. It remains
that our Lord Himself predicted. He foretold
minutely His own death, and the end of the City and
the Temple, and the circumstances of the close of this
aeon. Was He “soothsaying”? It
remains that He perpetually and most emphatically
claimed to be the exact Fulfilment of predictions which,
on any hypothesis, were then ages old. Was He
mistaken in their character and quality?
CHRIST’S WITNESS TO THE BIBLE.
In those last words I step, as I well
know, upon a field of the most urgent controversy.
What is the weight to be assigned to our ever blessed
Lord’s verdict upon the Old Testament as history
and prophecy? It is now asserted, and by Christian
men, that that verdict is not final; that He in the
days of His flesh so submitted to human limitations
that He was liable to mistakes of fact just as His
best contemporaries were; that we adore Christ, and
rely absolutely on Him, but it is on Christ not as
He was but as He is, the glorified Christ. Here
is an unspeakably overawing subject. I would not
treat of it as if the question could be swept away
in a sentence. But I do, as in our living Master’s
presence, venture to say that His witness to the nature
and character of the Old Scriptures claims definitely
to be ex cathedra. True, He doubtless
spoke in this matter, as elsewhere, not in what may
be called the technical style; not every reference
of His to “Moses” need necessarily mean
to assert precisely that Moses wrote every clause
of the Pentateuch. But the present question goes,
as we have remembered, much deeper. It asks whether
or no the Lord Jesus was altogether and in principle
mistaken. He treated the Law, Prophets, and Psalms
as a solid structure of historic fact and supernatural
promise, divinely planned all through, divinely carried
out and up from the foundation, and leading straight
up to Himself. Was it all the time true that
large parts of them were no more historical than the
False Decretals on which the high Papal claims were
If we revise the opinion of our Redeemer
on this conspicuous point of His teaching, where shall
we securely pause? Certainly we cannot securely
trust, as oracular and final, His own predictions of
things still future, at least in their details.
HE HAS AFFIRMED IT FROM ABOVE.
One great utterance is often quoted
as a confession that His conscious knowledge had limits;
Mark xii. Quite true; but what sort of confession
is it? It indicates in its very terms the vastness
of His supernatural knowledge; asserting His cognizance
of the fact that the angels in heaven did not know
that day and hour. Such an avowal of nescience
is an implicit assertion of an immeasurable insight.
And has He not, as the glorified
Christ, thrown a light of affirmation on the “opinions”
of the days of His flesh? The glorified Christ
sent down the Paraclete. And the first and abiding
work of the Paraclete was to illuminate the Apostles
with a new understanding of the truth and glory of
the Old Scriptures, altogether in the lines of their
crucified Master’s teaching about them.
Unless indeed Resurrection, and Ascension, and Pentecost
are themselves to melt into the haze of myth!
The New Testament is as full of the supernatural as
Reverently and humbly, and with full
recognition of a large place and lawful work for a
true higher criticism in the literature of the Old
Testament, and of the New, I yet decline to think that
our Lord’s estimate of the nature of the Bible
is not to be final for me, and that His reasonings
from it are to be revised, while yet I adore Him as
my Light, my Life, and my God. And I ask my Brethren
to pause many times, and on their knees, before they
PRESENT FULFILMENTS OF PROPHECY.
As regards prediction, let them look
around them. Two great fulfilments of Old Testament
prediction are going forward at this moment. One
is, the vast work of missions, whose whole aim is
to make known “to the ends of the earth”
the Name of Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham,
Son of God. The other is, the dispersion and
yet permanence of the Jewish race, and (may I not
add, in view of the facts of the last few years?) the
beginnings of a re-population of Palestine by the Jews.
Credible statistics assure us that they are now returning
to their old land at the rate of many thousands in
a year. True, no “miracle” brings
them back. But no thoughtful student has ever
said that the miracle of prediction demands miracle
in the circumstances of the fulfilment.
BIBLE READING IS THE BEST DEFENCE OF THE BIBLE.
I have gone beyond my intended length
in these observations. The present urgency of the
subject, which encounters us everywhere, is my apology.
But now, all the more gladly for the delay, I hasten
to a few simple words of suggestion on that practical
duty of Secret Bible Reading which is, after all,
the best and surest antidote and preservative against
scepticism about the Bible, if it is carried on at
once thoroughly, intelligently, and as before the Lord.
Vain without it, worse than vain, will be the most
diligent and successful study of the apologetics of
the Bible. For the Bible was given to be, not
a battle-field, but a field of wheat, and pasturage,
and flowers, and a gold-field also all the while.
How then shall I read my Bible so
as at once spiritually and mentally to know it, or
rather, to be always getting to know it? The answer
must be “at sundry times and in divers
manners.” I must make time to read often,
however brief each time may be. And I must use
methods of study, more than one, in parallel lines.
As a sort of ground-work to all other
methods I venture first to say, be always reading
the Bible through, however slowly, or rapidly.
For certain purposes, for instance in order to grasp
the scope of a book, as perhaps an Epistle, or the
Revelation, or St John’s Gospel, or the latter
half of Isaiah, or the Book of Genesis, rapid reading
may be quite reverently done. In any case, get
as soon as you may, and as often as is practicable
and practical, over the whole surface.
Lord Hatherley, amidst the heavy occupations of a
barrister’s and judge’s life, used to
read the whole Book through carefully every year, and
this for more than thirty years. I cannot say
that I do the same. But I aim to read the Bible
over carefully within every few years.
Then, practise what I would call the
plough-husbandry of the Book. “Make
long furrows.” Investigate what the Scriptures
have to say by topics, by doctrines, by leading words,
over great breadths of their surface; keeping that
subject, that word, all along in view.
Bring all your mind to work that way, in the light
of the Presence sought by prayer. An occasional
special form of such study may be illustrated by that
admirable book, written long ago, but full of life
still, the late Professor Blunt’s Undesigned
Coincidences. I was thankful in my first
days of ministry to be led to put in practice its examples
and suggestions by ploughing in the field of the New
Testament for the coincidences between the Gospel
narrative and the allusions to our blessed Lord’s
life scattered over the Epistles.
Then, practise also a diligent spade-husbandry
in your Bible study. Dig as well as plough.
In each narrow plot of the great field there are treasures
hid. Dig a verse sometimes, using perhaps the
spade of parallel references. Dig a paragraph
at other times; a chapter; a short book. You
are quite sure, under the blessing of the Master of
the Field, to bring up rich results, more or less.
I will close my talk upon the Bible
by offering a specimen of such spade-husbandry.
A few years ago, at the Church Congress at Wakefield,
I read a paper on Bible-reading. It mainly took
the line of recommending earnestly the use of the
Biblical student’s “spade,” and then
it illustrated the recommendation by the following
“spade-study” of the Epistle of St Paul
to the Philippians; given here just as it was read.
A CHURCH CONGRESS PAPER ON BIBLE STUDY.
“It has been laid on me to say
a few words on the devotional study of the Holy Scriptures,
taking some one Book of Scripture, and in some sort
exemplifying such study from it. I accept the
theme, with a deep sense both of its opportuneness
in our busy period, so full of temptations to the
Christian Minister to postpone his Bible-study to
other things, and of its sacred, paramount, vital importance.
May our divine and sovereign Master be pleased to
use my simple suggestions to call once more the attention
especially of His ordained servants to the urgency
of our need to be personal Bible-students before Him,
and to the strength and joy that lies in such study,
really pursued. He, in the days of His flesh,
was the supreme Believer in the Bible, the supreme
Lover, Student, Expositor, and Employer of the Bible.
With the letter of the Bible He sustained Himself
and quelled the Enemy in the Temptation, and the quotations
He then selected suggest the minuteness of His study.
Upon the written Word He spent the whole Easter afternoon.
Accepted Sacrifice for Sin, Conqueror of Death, Lord
and Head of Life, He had come that morning from the
grave; and He came as it were holding the Scriptures
in His hands.
“He found around Him in those
earthly days a mass of religious popular opinions,
and He spoke His holy mind freely against the false
among them. But there was one opinion which He
noticed only to sanction, to sanctify, to glorify.
It was the opinion that the Scriptures were divine,
were charged with the authority of God.
“I pray to Him, and trust Him,
my Master and Lord, to hold me now humbly firm to
the end, after many a struggle, in His opinion of the
Holy Scriptures. I would enter into, as He abode
in, their rest; therefore I accept, as He accepted,
their yoke. I would feel what He felt, that living
incitement to their study which is indissolubly bound
up, if I mistake not, with the firm persuasion of
their supernatural character and authority. I
would read them, as He read them, above all things
to act upon them in the life which we, His followers,
have in Him; that life whose exercise and outcome
means our whole walk here as well as hereafter.
I would regard them, as it is apparent that He regarded
them, as being (in a sacred sense) self-sufficient;
not, indeed, to the self-sufficient reader, but to
the reader who prays in reverent simplicity that the
Holy Spirit may dispel every moral mist, every hindrance
of heart and will, from between him and the meaning
of the written Word; and who intends in truthful sincerity
to consent to, to obey, the discovered meaning; and
who is taking pains over the Book.
“It is a great joy to know how
entirely this was the view of the matter held, and
loved, and taught in the ancient Church. Is there
anything about which there is a larger consent of
the Fathers? St Athanasius loves to dilate on
the [Greek: autarkeia], the self-sufficingness,
of ‘the divine Scriptures.’ St Cyril
of Jerusalem entreats his hearers to guide and fix
their belief by the reading of the Canonical books.
St Chrysostom boldly accounts for all mischiefs by
the lack of personal acquaintance with the Scriptures.
“We are in the nineteenth century,
almost in the twentieth, and perhaps we therefore
need, even more than our elder brethren of the fourth,
to renew our energies in Scripture-study by prayerful,
painstaking recollection of what the Book is.
We need an ever fresh realization of what it is immortally,
unalterably; the divinely trustworthy, and therefore
authoritative, account of God’s mind, and specially
and above all of God’s mind concerning Jesus
Christ and our relations to Him, our life by Him,
our peace, and power, and hope, in Him. And it
is a few words about this aspect of Scripture, and
the search of Scripture, that I now lay before you,
with humility and simplicity of purpose, in the way
of a description and example of a sort of study that
has been a great blessing to myself.
“Take one of the holy Books,
or a section of one of them; and for this purpose
shorter is better. By a certain exercise of imagination
suppose yourself to be reading a newly-discovered
fragment of the apostolic age. Treat it somewhat
as many of us have recently sought to treat Bryennius’
discovery, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.
What microscopic attention has been brought to bear
upon that little book, just because good evidence
gives it a place in the first century, and because
it speaks of Christ, and of Christians; of faith, worship,
ministry, and life, in a part of the primeval Church!
Now I attempt from time to time, reverently but very
simply, to treat some inspired Epistle somewhat in
the same way. I place myself before it as much
as possible as if it were new to me and others.
I seek, with something of the curiosity which such
conditions would create, to collect and arrange its
theology and its ethics. And then I bring in upon
the results of my study the fact that it is God’s
Word, the Word which I am to embrace, and live upon,
and act upon, to-day.
“For example and suggestion,
let us turn to the EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS; few
but golden pages, precious product of those two years
of St Paul’s physical imprisonment but blissful
spiritual liberty. To stimulate our consciousness
of what the Epistle contains to reward search, and
search alone, let us try to place it before us as what
it is not now, but once was, a newly-given oracle
of God. It was once read for the first time,
perhaps in the house of Lydia. Let it be to us,
so far as thought can make it so, what it was then.
And let us remember all the while that it is really
even now new, for it is immortal with the breath of
the Spirit of God. It not only ‘abideth,’
but ‘liveth,’ for ever.
“Let us take two titles under
which to classify the results of our inspection of
this primitive Document. First, its doctrine of
Christ; then, its doctrine of Christian Life.
As a subordinate third title we may collect what it
indicates of Christian life as exemplified in the
Writer’s allusions to his own experience.
“I. The Christology of the Epistle.
“(1) We trace hints of the human
history of Christ. He was man, in reality
and in seeming; He died a death of suffering, the death
of the Cross [i, 8; ii.]; He rose again,
for there is a power of His Resurrection; [ii.]
and, apparently, He so left this earth that it was
known that an immeasurable exaltation attended His
going, so that the heavens are now His seat [i.],
from which He is definitely expected to return. [ii.]
“(2) Going back to antecedent
and prehistoric matters of faith about Him, we find
here that before He became man He subsisted in possession,
lawful and natural, of the manifested reality [Greek:
morphe] of Godhead, equal to God [i.]. His
appearance as man was the sequel of His own action
of will in that eternal state [i.]. It was
a novel and voluntary assumption of the condition
of the Bondservant, the [Greek: Doulos], of God.
Antecedently possessing the [Greek: morphe] of
God, He now de novo ‘took’ the [Greek:
morphe] of a bondservant. What created beings
in general are of course, God’s bondservants,
He had not been but now became; a fact as astonishing
in its region as the fact of His possession of the
Supreme Nature is in its region. He assumed this
[Greek: douleia], we find, because His essential
work was to obey, to ‘become obeying,’
yes, to the extent of death [i.]; which death was
thus in Him altogether voluntary, part of a free undertaking
to be not His own. The immediate result for Himself,
it next appears, was an exaltation by God to supreme
majesty under all these conditions. As being
all this, possessor of Deity and accepter of bondservice,
He was now de novo proclaimed as [Greek:
Kyrios], as Lord, in a sense interpreted by the adoration
of the universe; to the glory of God His Father.
For it repeatedly appears in the Epistle that God is
His Father; He is the Son of God [i.]. Further,
all ’the riches of God in glory’ [;
i.] are ‘in Him.’ [i.] It appears
that in His exaltation He is embodied still, for it
is to likeness to the body of His glory that the body
of our humiliation is to be changed at His expected
return. He is Almighty ‘to subdue all things,’
and the subjugation is ‘to Himself.’ [ii.]
“(3) As regards His relation
to His followers, such is it that their whole life
and every exercise of it is mysteriously but emphatically
said to be IN HIM. He, the supreme Bondservant,
is to them (we continually read) absolute Lord.
His grace animates their spirit. The divine Spirit
ministered to them is His [; i.]. Their
’fruit of righteousness’ is generated
and produced ‘through’ Him [.].
He is evermore and profoundly near to them. Their
heart-emotions are ’in His heart.’ [; i.] To believe in Him is their essential characteristic
[.]. To suffer for Him is a special boon to
them [.]. They live in expectation of His
return, His day. [, 10; i; ii.]
“II. The Epistle’s
account of Christian Life, inward and outward.
“We gather that the disciples
are saints, [Greek: hagioi], separated from self
and sin to God; brethren to one another; the true Israel,
citizens of the City above [, 14; ii, 20; i.]. Their being and life are so united to Christ,
that they as Christians (and it is evidently assumed
that this covers everything for them) exist,
and are to act, ‘in Him.’ In Him,
we find, they are ‘saints’ and ‘brethren’
[, 14; i, 2; i.]; in Him they are to
‘stand fast’; to be ’of one mind’;
to ‘receive one another’; to possess comfort,
consolation; to glory; to rejoice [i; ii,
3; i.]. It is solemnly guaranteed, under
certain most holy and happy conditions, that ’the
peace of God Himself shall’ the promise
is positive ’keep safe their hearts
and thoughts in Him’ [i.]; wonderful words,
but perfectly distinct. In them God ’has
begun a good work, to be carried for its completion
up to the day of Christ’; and God is now ’working
in them to will and to do for the sake of’ His
plan and purpose [; i.]. It is laid upon
them accordingly, in the profound inner rest of such
union, such possession, such submission, to ‘work
out their salvation,’ to live out their life
as the saved, with the ‘fear and trembling’
of sacred reverence [i.]. They are ‘to
look each not on his own things,’ but on the
things of others, in their Lord’s manner [i.]; to hold together in loving and courageous union
for the Gospel, standing fast in ‘one soul,’
under the ‘one Spirit’s’ power; to
keep their place in the midst of evil surroundings
as the ‘children of God’ [.] and the
‘light-bearers’ of ‘the message of
life.’ [i.] They are to abstain totally,
in the power of their life in Christ, from all sin,
to ’do nothing’ (I take all possible note
of these ‘alls’ and ‘nothings’
as I study and classify) ‘for strife or vainglory’
[i.]; to be ’anxious about nothing, but
in everything’ to tell God their desires; to
’do all things without murmurings and disputings’
[i; i.]; to be ‘unblamable, unhurtful,
unblemished, God’s children,’ not in a
dreamland, but in the realities of Philippian life;
to bear fruit, ‘fruit of righteousness, which
is through Jesus Christ,’ [i.] and so to
bear it that at last it shall turn out, in the day
of the Lord, that they are ‘filled’ with
it [.]; every branch is laden. They are
to let their ‘moderation,’ that is to say
their yieldingness, their self-lessness, come out
in common life, ‘known to all men,’ in
the power of a ‘Lord at hand’ [i.];
to fill their thoughts with all that is good, straightforward,
chastened, pure [i.]; to ‘mind’ the
things in heaven [ii; ii.]; to have ‘the
mind of Christ’; to grow in spiritual perception,
along with the growth of love [.]; to live the
life expressed in that profound summary, ’worshipping
God in the Spirit (or, by the Spirit of God); exulting
in Christ Jesus; having no confidence in the flesh.’
“III. The Life in Christ exemplified
in the Writer.
“Here let us forget the Apostle,
for he speaks wholly as the Christian, and in a way
manifestly meant to be an instruction to all Christians.
He appears, then, in our document, as one whom Christ
has ‘seized,’ has ‘grasped’
[ii.]; as one who has discovered in Christ, and
in Christ alone, the supreme Gain, the supreme Object
of knowledge, the supreme Spiritual Power as the Risen
One, [ii.] the supreme Interest and Reason of
life [; ii-14], the one possible supply of
the unspeakable need of a valid Righteousness before
the Judgment Seat. Yes, he must be ’found
in Him, having the righteousness which is from God
on terms of faith,’ [ii.] the faith which
enters into Christ. ’In Christ,’
we discover, the Writer is, everywhere and always.
His ‘bonds’ are ‘in Christ’;
his ‘glory’ is ‘in Christ’
[, 26.]; his hopes and trusts about the common
events of life are ‘in Christ’; in Christ
he has ‘found the secret’ how to do all,
all he has to do, in peace [i, 24.]. Christ
fills his present life [i.]; when he dies, he
will be so ‘with Christ’ that it will
be ‘far better’ than this present life,
though it is full of Christ [, 23.]. He is
the willing but most real bondservant of Christ [.]. His relations with Christ so fill him with
peace and the power of peace, that extremely irritating
rivalry and opposition at Rome does not irritate him,
but occasions holy joy, and the suspense about life
and death in which Nero keeps him is powerless, wholly
because of Christ [, etc.], to evoke anything
but a statement of the dilemma of blessings which life
and death in the Lord are to him [, etc.].
On the other hand, as the whole Epistle indicates,
every pure human sensibility circulates naturally in
this supernatural atmosphere [E.g. i,
28; i.]. And meanwhile, though ‘perfect,’
in respect of reality of union and communication with
his Lord, he is not yet ‘perfected’ in
respect of application and results; the goal, the
prize, is yet to come. [ii, 14.]
“And so I shut my Epistle to
the Philippians, leaving very much more in it for
the next occasion. Such a study has not demanded
long hours. It has asked only interest, purpose,
and painstaking, a few such fragments of daily time
as we must, yes, must, make and take for the
Bible, if we are not to starve our people and ourselves.
Suffer me to repeat it with deep earnestness; we must,
we absolutely must, not merely devotionally read but
devotionally search and penetrate this divine Book.
And what shall come of the effort? By the grace
of God, sought in the deep joy of a profound submission,
it shall come that we shall each one realize, with
a vernal newness and delight, that Christ is mine;
that the springs and secrets of this life in Him are
mine, for the realities of my home, my parish, my
study, my soul. I go (it is for each one of us
to say it) with renewed thirst and certainty to Him
the eternal Fountain; I live, I live, yet not I; and
therefore I can work. It will be ‘with
fear and trembling,’ as I know myself to be indeed
in the eternal Presence; yet it will be also in the
power-giving ’peace that passeth understanding,
keeping the heart and thoughts, in Christ Jesus,’
a keeping that is not meant to vanish outside holy
places and holy hours, but to do its strongest and
serenest work in the midst of crookedness and perverseness,
under the stress of toils and burthens, as truly for
me to-day as for the Philippians and their Teacher
“The Spirit breathes upon the
And brings the truth to sight;
Precepts and promises afford
A sanctifying light.
“My soul rejoices to pursue
The steps of Him I love,
Till glory breaks upon my view
In brighter worlds above.”