Stacks Image 385


CHAPTER III.


THE WHOLE FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH.*


"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…." (Ephesians iii.14, 15 R.V.)

WHILE God is the Creator of all the animal species that walk the earth and sport in the waters and fly in the air, he is the Father of rational and moral intelligences only. There is in the Holy Scriptures a restricted use of this term which must be carefully observed by all who would not fall into the deadly embrace of modern liberalism. Therefore in the interest of clearness of thought and in vindication of Christian truth, let us see first what we mean by the phrases "children of God," "sons of God" and "fatherhood of God." Strictly speaking, there is but one Person so linked to God by the genetic tie as to be "the Son of God." Hence he is "the only begotten Son." His being is grounded on the divine
nature and is without time limits. He is the eternal Son. All other beings are grounded not on the nature of God, but upon his will, within time limits. They are creatures. The Divine Logos is never spoken of in the Holy Scriptures as a creature. God is never called the creator, but the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ. His sonship is unique and unshared by any other beings in the universe. Sonship to God, when applied to others, is figurative, as is also the fatherhood of God. What then is signified when an archangel or a man is called a son of God? There are several things in the relation of a human son to a father which might be the foundation of this metaphor, such as actual descent and possession of the identical nature — which we have disclaimed for all creatures — or resemblance, imitation, obedience, love; qualities which may he summed up in the word likeness. This likeness is both natural and moral. The natural likeness of the human creature to the Creator consists in personality, intelligence, a moral sense, implying freedom and spirituality, i. e., spirit is the essential principle. The moral likeness exists when man possesses qualities like God's moral attributes, love, holiness, justice, wisdom and truth. But since the moral attributes eclipse the natural in excellence, likeness to God is predicated only of the possession of the moral qualities. Satan, though still like God in his natural attributes, is in no scriptural sense a son of God, because of his lack of the moral likeness. This is true of all unregenerate men. They are not sons of God. Christ plainly told certain Jews that they were of their father the devil, because they had taken on his moral characteristics. The very tap-root of modern liberalism, universal salvation on the ground of the universal fatherhood of God, lies in a neglect of these scriptural distinctions, and in making the divine fatherhood natural and genetic, like human fatherhood, and in reasoning from the latter to the former on this wise, "As no human father would be so cruel as to banish his child from his presence forever, much less will the divine Father." The fallacy lies in the assumption that a wicked man is a child of God, when he is really a child of Satan, because he has taken on his moral likeness. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews declares that certain men "are bastards, and not sons." It will not do to literalize or carnalize the terms "son" and "Father" in speaking of man's relation to God. For the outcome will be universal salvation on the ground of a fondling sentimentalism, an unholy love on the part of God, instead of moral likeness to him in holy character. Another error is expressed in the maxim, "Once in grace always in grace," based upon the idea, once a child always a child. Substitute "once like God, always like God," and the fallacy immediately stands out to view, for Satan once bore the moral image of his Maker. If sonship to God is pressed as a proof of the impossibility of becoming a son of perdition, why may not sonship to the devil be alleged to be an insuperable barrier to becoming a son of God? Are our positions sustained by the Bible? We reply that in the New Testament sonship is the peculiar and distinguishing privilege of those who by faith receive Jesus Christ (John i. 12), and it consists in conformity to the image of the Son of God (Rom. viii. 29), and in no case do the words "sons of God," "children" and "Father" indicate anything but a spiritual likeness. Once, and once only, St. Paul, while preaching on Mars Hill, taking natural religion as his starting point, so as to stand on common ground with his pagan audience, speaks of the human race in the words of a Greek poet, as the offspring of God. Even here he is careful to limit the metaphor to likeness in those natural characteristics in which men consciously differ from "gold or silver or stone." For they are conscious of freedom and moral accountability. In all the New Testament the terms "son," "child," "sonship," "adoption," and "Father," when applied to the relation of men to God, signify a spiritual likeness enstamped in outline by the Holy Spirit at that religious crisis figuratively called the new birth, and in completeness at the subsequent crisis of entire sanctification. Utterly foreign to the Gospels and the epistles and to apostolic preaching as reported in the Acts of the Apostles, is salvation on the ground of the natural fatherhood of God. Such a doctrine would "make the cross of Christ of none effect;" because it would be needless in the scheme of salvation.

If we turn to the Old Testament we shall find, in the words of Oehler, that "The meaning of the divine fatherhood is not physical, as if God were called the Father of men because he gives them natural life and preserves them in it, but it is national. It denotes the relation of love and moral communion in which Jehovah has placed Israel to himself. This relation is quite unique; Jehovah is only the Father of the chosen people, not the Father of other nations." He says, "Israel is my son, even my first-born." The sonship of individuals, Oehler insists, was not the privilege of Old Testament saints, inasmuch, in my opinion, as the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier, was not yet given. "The notion of
divine sonship, as conferred upon the Hebrew nation in general, and then upon the theocratic king, nay, as affirmed in a special sense of the godly, was still but a notion to be fully realized only in the future. The highest relation of intercourse between God and man, instituted by prophecy, does not attain to the eminence of that filial state inaugurated by the New Testament; for which reason Christ declares the greatest of the prophets to be less than the least in his kingdom." That individual sonship to God was a strange doctrine to the Jews, who were diligent students of their Scriptures, is seen in their indignant surprise that Jesus should dare call God his Father.

Germane to this discussion is the exposition of 2 Pet. i. 4, "That ye may become partakers of the divine nature." "That is," says Dean Alford, "of that holiness, and truth, and love, and, in a word, perfection, which dwells in God, and in you by dwelling in God." St. Peter calls that the divine nature which the divine Spirit effects in us, the image of God re-imprinted on us by the Third Person of the adorable Trinity. The only man who is literally a partaker of the divine nature is the God-man. All who truly believe in him partake, according to their finite capacity, of the moral attributes of the Father, and in this sense are sons. It is a remarkable fact that the Greek verb for "become" in this text is in the aorist tense. This is a puzzle to the scholarly dean, who cannot accept the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification instantaneously wrought by the Holy Spirit through faith. But in his explanation he makes an admission which implies all that Wesley ever taught on this line. He says, "The account of this usage of the aorist has not been anywhere, that I have seen, sufficiently given. It is untranslatable in most cases, but seems to serve in the Greek to express that the aim was
not the procedure, but the completion, of that indicated." If it is completed in the present life, there must be a definite instant in which the work is finished. This is all that Wesley ever contended for.

Alford very properly quotes John xii. 36, "Believe on the light that ye may become sons of light," as another instance of a definite completion aimed at, and not a process. In this case it is the new birth, the beginning of holiness, since the command is to the unregenerate Jews; but in 2 Pet. i. 4 the definite completion is entire sanctification, because Peter is addressing "them that have obtained a like precious faith with us," and is showing to them the full extent of salvation in "the exceeding great and precious promises" which "are given unto us." Why Peter should change the first person to the second; the "us" to "ye," we know not, except it be delicate intimation that he had become a partaker of the divine nature in a sense not applicable to those whom he addressed, that he had obtained complete conformity to the image of the Son of God and was a full-grown son, while they were more or less carnal and were even still babes (I Cor. iii. 1). St. John also makes two grades of sonship (1 John ii. 13), "little children" who know the Father and cry, "Abba, Father;" and young men who are strong and have permanently conquered the evil one through the Word of God abiding in them by the grip of faith which never relaxes its hold. Reader, to which of these classes do you belong? If to neither, aspire to be born from above; if to the first class, be not content with Christian infancy, but aspire to the strength and victory of Christian manhood. Beware of old babehood. A dwarf awakens only pity and disgust.

All who are born of the Spirit into this family of God on the earth may have a satisfactory, yea joyful, assurance of sonship expressed by the Greek word
πίγνωσις (epignosis), a certain and perfect knowledge, not inferential, but intuitive, excluding all doubt and inspiring "joy unspeakable." Should Gabriel write this assurance across the arches of the sky in letters of light, he would not intensify the confidence of the soul which hears the Spirit crying Abba, Father. For the senses, or rather our inferences from them, may he fallacious, but our intuitions never can be. The new-born soul is endowed with a set of new intuitions. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Thus Christianity rests on self-evident truth. This foundation skeptics and agnostics cannot overturn. "Our Rock is not as their rock." Therefore we need not wait till the last day to find out whether we are sons of God, nor climb up to heaven today and look over the shoulder of the recording angel to see whether our names are inscribed in the book of life. There are safeguards set about this question on which destiny hinges. By a sort of double-entry arrangement one copy of God's family record is kept in heaven, and another in the heart of the believer. "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God." "He that is born of God hath the witness in himself." We do not deny that there are children born into the family of God with very weak eyes, who fail at first to read their title clear because of their feeble grasp of faith. They have astigmatic vision, with no distinctness of outline. They see men as trees walking. We have a word of good cheer for such. There is a hand which can touch those eyes the second time and bestow perfect vision. While we have strongly insisted on an immediate knowledge of our adoption by the new birth through the direct witness of the Spirit, we would also emphasize that mediate knowledge which is deduced from the marks of regeneration found in the Scriptures and their corresponding marks observed in ourselves. Hence it becomes us to be very familiar with those marks, the criteria of present character and of eternal destiny.

I. All who belong to the family born of the Holy Spirit are characterized by an unmistaken family likeness. It is a great law running from the top to the bottom of creation that like begets like. The sons of God, whether archangels who have stood before the throne from the day of their creation, or babes in Christ born into the kingdom today, all bear his moral lineaments as incarnated in the model man, man at his climax, Jesus Christ our Lord. The natural features of this family vary almost infinitely. There are we know not how many orders of purely spiritual beings in heaven — angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, principalities, dominions and powers. We are ignorant of their specific differences. But in one particular they are all alike; they prefer holiness to sin, wearing the spotless robe of original righteousness, and loving their Creator with the full measure of their powers. Among the family on earth there are such minor differences as nationality, color, culture, social standing, intelligence and property; but they all wear the image of Christ enstamped by the Holy Spirit. Their Christ-like cast of countenance makes them brothers to the archangels on their thrones. They wear the robe of an imparted and inwrought righteousness, washed in the layer of regeneration, and afterwards whitened in the all-cleansing blood of the Lamb. The children of God are all characterized by holiness in its various degrees, from a new principle lodged by the Spirit in the penitent believer, like a spark dropped from the skies, to the full glow of pure, that is, perfect, love consuming all sin. A sin-loving son of God is a contradiction.

II. The next trait is a strong family affection. The ties of blood kindred are weak in comparison with the love that burns in the bosoms of the regenerate and sanctified. Jesus, our elder brother, evinced the superiority of spiritual kinship when he deliberately set his disciples above all the members of his mother's family, herself included: "He who doeth the will of my Father, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother." This love for those begotten of God will intensify till it absorbs and consumes all other loves. In the day of judgment the ties of spiritual affinity will be so strong that natural affection will shrivel into insignificance in contrast, so that the parting of families in that day of doom and their eternal separation will produce no distressing pang in the bosom all aglow with the flame of love to Christ and the brotherhood of the regenerate and sanctified. Natural affection is designed for the needs of the present life, but love as the fruit of the Spirit abides forever. This is a sufficient answer to the sentimentalists who assert that the punishment of an incorrigible sinner in hell would destroy the joys of heaven for the father, mother, brother, sister, husband or wife. Our affections will be so purified as to delight only in the presence of the pure and to abhor the society of the vile and to acquiesce without a murmur in the sentence, "Depart, ye cursed." An illustration of this truth occurred in the life of Dr. Robert Breckenridge, an anti-slavery Presbyterian clergyman of Kentucky. When the Southern States attempted to secede from the Union, he stood by the old flag; but some of his sons sympathized with the rebellion. One son, who lived at a distance, had not made known to his patriot sire on which side he would be found in that contest which was soon to drench the Republic in blood. This son was seen one day dismounting at the gate of the old homestead. His father opened the front door and asked this question: "My son, do you come loyal or rebel? Answer, for no traitor to his country shall enter my house." The son replied, "Loyal," and was warmly welcomed. We all feel like swinging our hats and giving this heroic old man three times three cheers. Now, if that indefinite sentiment called patriotism can become, with our approval, so intense as to overshadow and even extinguish family ties, so that the patriot can rejoice in the victory of the Federal army, even though a rebel son lies dead on the battlefield, how far above all natural ties may the love of Christ and his kingdom lift us, so that we may applaud that act of his justice which punishes one of our own human kindred in arms against the King of kings! To you who say that I am mocking at the tenderest sensibilities and rudely handling the most sacred and sensitive tendrils of the heart, let me commend the study of the words of the infallible teacher: "If any man love father or mother, brother or sister, more than me, he is not worthy of me." "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, his own life also," when they oppose his loyalty to Christ, "he cannot be my disciple." Our kindred and our former selves are to be resisted as enemies to our highest well-being when they obstruct our fellowship with him who has redeemed us with his own blood. This justifies all that we have said about the superior intensity of Christian love.

III. This family all speak a peculiar language, not a terrestrial, but a celestial dialect. It is neither an alphabetic language, nor is it pictorial, nor hieroglyphic, but a heart language, heart beating to heart in spiritual unison. Why should they not? A thousand pendulums electrically connected will all, give the same time-beat. All the saints on earth and in heaven have the same heart-throb of spiritual life because they are all vitally connected with the heart of the Lord Jesus. This common language is a common feeling. Hence it can never be mistaken. A half a century ago, in the evening services at camp meetings, the scoffers sometimes would utter mock hallelujahs, but there would always be a lack of unction in their intonations which quickly exposed the imposture, and the good old Methodists would exclaim, "It's the voice of the goats, not of the sheep." The language of Christian feeling can never be successfully counterfeited. The language of the dry intellect, the language of the head, may be misunderstood. Hence wherever religion has consisted in theological dogmas alone, fierce strifes have arisen. But when the gospel has been addressed to men's hearts, and has been received by faith in its transforming power, the weapons of denominational warfare are cast away, and believers vie with one another in magnifying our common Saviour. Such, thank God, are the happy times upon which we have fallen. We live in a day when the Holy Spirit has come down upon the evangelical churches, and we now understand one another, because our hearts speak. In the eras of the warmest theological controversy this heart unison was not noticed amid the din and discord of clashing swords. Professor Shedd says that "Tried by the test of exact dogmatic statement there is a plain difference between the Arminian creed and that of the Calvinist; but tried by the test of practical piety and devout feeling, there is little difference between the character of John Wesley and John Calvin. The practical religious life is much more a product of the Holy Spirit than is the speculative construction of truth." The advance of spirituality will be the advance of that unity for which Jesus prayed in his wonderful high-priestly prayer in the seventeenth of St. John. It is said that an Asiatic Christian convert met a converted Feejee on the deck of a ship. Ignorant of each other's native tongue and burning with new-born love to God and man the one exclaimed, "Hallelujah," and the other immediately responded, "Amen." By these words they recognized each other as brethren in Christ Jesus. But what are these but two Hebrew words transferred, not translated, into all our modern tongues, words which once resounded over the hills of old Canaan? They suggest the ease with which believers communicate when they have learned the language of New Canaan.

IV. This family have a common secret which has never been divulged. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it." With the Orientals the white stone was a marble tablet used as a card of admission to feasts. The new name is an emblem of a new nature which none but the recipient can understand. Father E. T. Taylor used to glory that he belonged to the white-stone company. If you would know this family secret do not knock at the doors of the countless secret societies so rapidly multiplying in all our cities, for they cannot tell you. Ask no one but the Lord Jesus himself, for none of his disciples is commissioned to divulge this divine mystery. The half was never told. I have for many years endeavored to tell it, but I have always failed. "O, taste and sea." This secret is the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, an agent utterly unknown to the unbelieving world because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. It is his office to "shed abroad the love of God in our hearts," filling and flooding with joy unspeakable.

V. Hence this is a very joyful family, since each member has been born of the Spirit and is led of the Spirit. The fountain of joy is an artesian well springing up in their hearts. The peace which passes understanding runs forever, a river of sweet waters, through their souls.

"Like a river glorious
Is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious
In its bright increase:
Perfect — yet it floweth
Fuller every day;
Perfect — yet it groweth
Deeper all the way."**

In the highest experiences of this joy all tormenting fear has been cast out; fear of death, for the believer has the victory in advance; fear of future ill, for he pillows his head upon the assurance "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Their fear of God has no servility. It is the filial fear, respect for the loving Father. Nor are his commandments grievous. The law of the Lord is our delight, my song — the Decalogue set to music. The will of God is no longer a galling yoke upon the unwilling neck, but an inspiration of gladness in the heart.

"I love to kiss each print where
Thou Hast set Thine unseen feet;
I cannot fear Thee, blessed
Will, Thine empire is so sweet."***


No one outside of this family of regenerate souls has any ground for rejoicing, nor any right to be happy. The seeming happiness of the worldling is illusory, not real. It is as fleeting as the drunkard's revelry and is followed by the same depressing reaction; as evanescent as the fatal pleasure of the winning gambler. The felicities of the sons of God are as serene and lasting as God, their author. Under his moral government guilt can never be happy, world without end. Only the sinless angels above, and the spirits of the just made perfect, sojourning in the antechamber of heaven, and the forgiven sinner below, can he truly filled with joy. We sometimes think that the bliss of the pardoned is more ecstatic than the raptures of the unfallen in heaven, "the sworded seraphim and the helmed cherubim,"

"With all who chant God's name on high
And Holy, holy, holy, cry."

For none of these have ever tasted redeeming grace and dying love. Surpassing joy, to see the Son of God lay aside his diadem of glory and stoop from heaven to earth for me, and to have the Holy Spirit visit my guilty soul and apply the blood that washes away all my sin, while the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai cease and a voice from Calvary whispers, "Thy sins, which were many, are all freely forgiven!" This awakens a thrill of joy such as no angel has ever felt. But to be adopted into that glorious and ancient family, the nobility of the universe, the aristocracy of virtue, and to have my name enrolled, not in Burke's Peerage, but in the Lamb's book of life, the family record of heaven, is a joy beyond measure, eclipsing all former joys. But who can portray the still higher joy of the soul's espousals to Christ, the heavenly bridegroom? To be taken into his most intimate confidence, to walk in white, arm in arm with him, and to be called worthy — this is a joy beyond expression. It is not the African bond-maid suddenly emancipated and married to her white master, it is not the rag-picker wedded by Rothschild, glittering in his silks, resplendent with his diamonds, endowed with his millions, feasting on his plates of gold, and wearing his baronial title. It is infinitely more than any contrast that earthly society can afford: it is a guilty wretch disowned of his father, awaiting execution for his capital crime, pardoned, led out of the cell, enrobed in spotless array, with the ring of adoption glittering on his hand, led up the ivory steps of the throne of his reconciled Father and crowned amid the shoutings of myriads of loyal angels; it is the assurance of the Father's everlasting love.

"O wonderful, O passing thought!
The love' that God has had for me,
Spending on me no less a sum
Than the undivided Trinity."****

I have spoken in parables, but I have failed to give an adequate representation of the bliss which attends the realization of Christian privilege when personally experienced in its fulness.

VI. But not the least valuable consideration connected with this family is its inheritance. Avaricious young men are eager to engraft themselves into rich families for the sake of a princely heritage. Thus ambitious and greedy men married women of the Girard blood to be remembered in the will of the merchant millionaire of Philadelphia. After years of impatient waiting they assembled, with large expectations, at the opening of the will to gnash their teeth in the madness of being "cut off with a shilling." But none of God's family will be disinherited or be put off with a pitiful mockery. The seal of his will has been broken. Listen while Peter reads: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you [all persevering believers], who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." It is undefiled. Many an earthly inheritance is polluted with extortion and fraud; it is stained with the tears of widows and orphans and crimson with innocent blood. Such heritages are freighted with the curse of God. But no stain of crime is on the heritage of one begotten of the Holy Spirit. No curse blasts it. It is also incorruptible. It cannot be wasted by use, eaten by moths, swept away by floods, consumed by fire, nor plundered. by thieves. It is absolutely indestructible. God is the portion of his people, a satisfying and eternal portion. "I am their inheritance." Only when God falls into decrepitude and decay will the inheritance of his children come to an end. But this cannot be, for, as Peter continues to read the will, he comes to the words, "It fadeth not away." Ye who rejoice in the anticipated or possessed inheritances of your earthly parents, sit down and soberly cipher out by the use of longevity tables how many, or rather how few, years you are to enjoy your inherited riches. You and your possessions, your houses and lands, your bank stock, bonds and mortgages, will soon be separated forever. In an hour some unforeseen stroke against which you could not fend by insurance, like a Louisville cyclone or a Johnstown flood or a Chicago fire, may sweep away the treasures in which you trust who are not rich in faith and heirs of the eternal kingdom.

Reader, on which inheritance have you set your heart, the fading or the fadeless? earth or heaven? time or eternity?

To assure the believer of this inheritance it has been handed over to one of the family as our representative, and is today held by him in trust for us. Jesus, our Elder Brother, has obtained the inheritance, and is holding it as our trustee. "If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." All questions of probate have been answered, and the estate is now awaiting distribution, when we, now under age, have attained our majority.

In the mean time we are not left without bond or title or proof of heirship. "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. i. 13); not
by the Spirit as some teach, making him the sealer, but with the Spirit, making him the seal and the Father the sealer, so that the conscious abiding of the Comforter in the heart is the seal which authenticates, appropriates and secures. The arrowhead on any article declares that it belongs to the Queen of England, for that is the seal of the British Crown. A piece of sealing-wax attached to a deed authenticates the signature and renders it valid. But what has God's seal to do with my inheritance? Hear the rest of the quotation "which [seal] is the earnest [pledge money paid in advance to bind the bargain] of our inheritance." How long? "Until the redemption of the purchased possession;" until our realization of the full heavenly reward promised by the indwelling Comforter called the Spirit of promise, not so much because he is promised in the Old Testament, but because in the New Testament he is promising the glorification of both soul and body. Since the earnest money was always paid in the same kind of coin in which the full wages would he paid, we have an intimation of the nature of the joys of heaven. We shall drink from the River of Life which flows from the throne of the Father and the Son — the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. We who have the abiding Comforter need not die to know what heaven is. Have you this earnest, this slice of heaven; in your soul? Are you sealed with the Holy Ghost? Is the evidence of your sonship bright and clear? It is not God's will that any of his children should live in doubt with respect to an interest so vast. Assurance is every Christian's privilege. He that believeth hath the witness in himself. Assurance of present salvation belongs to us as much as to the primitive Christians. There is, as centuries roll by, no tapering off of the graces of the Spirit, although there was a designed withdrawal of the extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Spirit. We have no anathemas for those Christians who cannot today read the seal of the Spirit on their hearts, the pledge of an eternal inheritance. We are not here to throw stones at such people, but to tell them that by their lack of appropriating faith they are excluding themselves from unspeakable joy. I do not say that they are shutting themselves out of heaven, for many have groped along in doubt and fear all through their earthly life, unrelieved till God in condescension to some unusual up-reaching of faith unveiled his face to them on their dying beds. Many call this dying grace. They might have had it as living grace fifty years before if they had claimed the heritage of faith. Of what we have said on this point this is the sum: The Father uses no other seal but the presence of the Holy Ghost in Pentecostal fulness. He is the seal of both the Father and the Son.

VII. But the most astonishing characteristic of this family remains to be named. It is a royal family. The earthly members are princes in exile. Their kingly lineaments are all concealed. They are incognito. Their royal glory is eclipsed. A cloud rests upon them here, a cloud of reproach, vilification and often persecution. But the time is coming when the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father. The exiles are to be called home to the palace, their royal blood is to be acknowledged. They are to be enthroned and crowned. "He that overcometh shall sit down with me in my throne, as I have overcome and am set down with my Father in his throne."

This is the tallest promise in the Holy Scriptures. It is like an Eiffel Tower. When I in my imagination try to climb to its top my head swims, so dizzy is the height. In the person of the glorified Jesus the God-man, we, his kinsmen, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, shall be inconceivably exalted. The elevation of a brother reflects honor upon the whole family. But there is an honor above this; it is the enthronement of all the family, not as Napoleon scourged all Europe to make thrones vacant for his plebeian Corsican brothers. The throne of the Son of God is large enough for all the heroes of an overcoming faith. The thought staggers me, that I, an inhabitant of that speck of matter which men call earth, am to sit beside Jesus on his throne, an anointed king. The glorification of Jesus is both the pledge and the pattern of our future glorification. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called [constituted] the sons of God. And such we are." Thus reads the critical Greek text as translated by the Revision. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he [or it] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Study the description of the transfigured Jesus with his face shining as the sun and his raiment white as the light (Matt. xvii. 2; Rev. i. 14-16). John was one of the three favored mortals permitted to gaze upon the transfigured Christ, and it made such an impression upon him that he carried it ever afterwards, a dazzling photograph upon the tablet of his memory. But upon the isle of Patmos a being appeared to him all resplendent and glorious, and John thought he recognized the Lord Jesus with whom he was so well acquainted. For had he not reclined on his bosom? Yes, it is Jesus, there can be no mistake, it is the same glorious form which I saw on the mount when the bright cloud overshadowed him and a voice sounded from the most excellent glory, "This is my well-beloved son." Down falls John upon his knees to worship, when this brilliant form forbids him, "I am of thy fellow servants, the prophets." A mortal man who once wrestled with temptation as we do now, so radiant with glory as to be mistaken by John for the Lord Jesus, the Lord of glory. Thus shall you and I be when our resurrection bodies "shall be like his glorious body." The old Roman patricians, after the firstborn, put to death their younger offspring, and the modern English disinherit them, in order to aggrandize the titled heir. But the family born of the Holy Spirit is unlike the rich and royal families of this world, in the fact that its Head desires not to diminish but to multiply its members, having for them an inexhaustible inheritance. Sordid, scheming and selfish men study to form marriage alliances for themselves or for their children where the dividend is large and the divisor small, in order to secure the greater inheritance. But the estate of our Heavenly Father is so immense, exhaustless and absolutely infinite, that the divisor cannot be so large as to diminish the portion of any heir.

"The more that come with free good will,
Will make the feast the better still."







* "Eph. iii. 14. The Authorized version, "whole family," instead of the Revised version, "every family," or (margin) "every fatherhood," is strongly sustained by "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges," in harmony with chapter i. 10, where "all things in heaven and earth" are summed up in Christ as head, and with ii. 21, where "all the building," and not "each several building." is being completed for "a holy temple in the Lord." The Greek for "all" or "the whole" is the same in the last passage as it is in the motto of this chapter.

** F R. Havergal.

*** Faber.

**** Faber.