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is interested and influenced. I can never address faith but by faith. The most touching and affecting description of a proffered blessing is vapid, and unproductive if there be not faith in God with respect to it by the one who presents or teaches it.
King Saul undertook a right service, but failed in it grievously because he lacked faith ; he thought of man---of the people, instead of thinking of God's word simply and exclusively. It is here that we fail in service. The right service may be entered on, while man is in some way before our eyes more than God, and then there is not faith. When there is faith there is an execution in the service, which declares it to be of God. There is no Ziklag (see 1 Sam. xxx.), there is a straight and effectual extirpation of what is opposed to God.
The captives through much suffering and exercise of heart returned to the land, but when opposed they ceased to build the temple; God is not before them; they have not faith ; they think for themselves, and it comes to nothing; so that after all they have endured to reach the right place, they are not blessed, however laboriously they seek it, because they have no faith. The blessing is lost, though they are in the place of blessing
Whether it be the right thing, or the right service, or speaking of the highest things, or in the sphere of the greatest blessing, if I have not faith, all is a miserable failure; for if God is not before me, man must be. If God is before me, I have faith, and I have the confidence of His support, and what I do is carried on for Him, and has that peculiar mark. If it is man that is before me, there must be a considering for man, a yielding to him, an effort to win his acceptance by kindred power, namely, the natural mind, which addresses the natural mind; whereas when it is God, it is (while plain to the natural understanding) directed absolutely to faith and to nothing else.
The growing evil of this day is the attempt to define a truth critically beyond one's own possession of it in faith. Hence the natural mind works on scripture, borrowing ideas from one expositor or another, and in this mental laboratory a system of doctrine is formulated, which, by its easy reasoning, commends itself to the untaught and ill-established, because it is within the compass of the natural mind. Faith proposes to faith. Faith says, “Stretch forth thy hand.”—The cripple understands it well, but he needs faith.
Divine ministry is always greater in its source than in its expression: “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;" there is more within than has come out; “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Therefore the man of God is an example in faith as well as in word; otherwise he is a “cloud without water.” If we were careful not to speak of any truth beyond our faith, we should be a living testimony to its power; but when we speak of a truth without faith, it is not God who is before us, but man, and then we must suit man's mind, and that is carnal. Like the sons of Sceva the High Priest (Acts xix. 13), we assert truth in which we have not faith.
AS HE IS, SO ARE WE IN THIS
1 JOHN IV. 17. THE death of Christ has closed for faith the existence of the old man—the flesh, the first Adam-life in which we stood as responsible before God, and whose place Christ took for us in grace.
Our place, our standing before God, is no longer in flesh, it is in Christ. Christ, as man, has taken quite a new place, that neither Adam innocent, nor Adam guilty, had anything to say to (for “the best robe " formed no part of the prodigal's first inheritance at all ; it was in the Father's possession quite a new thing). Christ has taken this place, consequent on putting away our sins, on having glorified God as to them, and finished the work. He has taken it in righteousness, and man in Him has got a new place in righteousness with God. When quickened, he is quickened with the life in which Christ lives—the second Adam-and submitting to God's righteousness, (knowing that he is totally lost in the first and old man, and having bowed to this solemn truth, as shewn and learnt in the cross), he is sealed with the Holy Ghost, livingly united to the Lord, “one spirit,” he is “a man in Christ," not in the flesh, or in the first Adam, all that is closed for him in the cross, where Christ made Himself responsible for him, in respect of it, and died unto sin once, and he is alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. He belongs to a new creation, having the life of the Head of it as his life...
Amazing and total change ! from the whole condition and standing of the first Adam (responsible for his own sins) into that of Christ, who—having borne the whole consequence of that responsibility in his place—has given him (in the power of that, to us, new life in which He rose from the dead) a place in, and with Himself, as He now