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fields turned away Lot, and when the water so engrossed the nine thousand seven hundred of Gideon's brave followers, that they were suddenly disbanded and unemployed ; ready and willing to serve, but disqualified ; the case with many in this day. Thus, Mark, when at Pamphylia, returned to his house at Jerusalem. This is so common, that no one is safe from it. In fact, there is sure to be a temptation presented to us after every advance, and the only preservative is to continue : " Whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." The insidious feature in this declension, is, that there is no apparent surrender of any position. Where there is power, there is the refusal of everything which would divert us from our good beginning. Indeed, the way to help one in this state, is simply to recall them to their beginning
Secondly. When one who has, through grace and much exercise, been led to the right ground, and has been blessed there, is overpowered by human influences, while retaining, as he thinks, the right ground and the truth-like Barnabas taking his kinsman, and going to Cyprus, or Jacob at Shalem ; and all because a worldly sentiment was indulged in. This is a very painful declension, because one is like Ephraim, “grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not." There is no easy recovery from this, because one is deceived, unless one feels the pressure of the world one has fallen into, and then God restores, as He did Barnabas and Jacob. In both it was an unjudged worldliness which led to their fall. Had they walked on straight, as called of God, they would have been preserved.
Another class, while admitting the beauty and excellence of heavenly things, are really discouraged themselves from going up to possess them, because they have no faith, and discourage others. This shews the danger of sentimentalising on truth. It is here, no doubt, Demas was, and all that are in Asia, who turned away from Paul. The knowledge of truth in itself is not power, as we see at Corinth, and with the two disciples going to Emmaus, and very markedly with the ten spies. They commended the land, but discouraged the people. They had not faith for themselves, and therefore they would taint others, as they were tainted themselves.
Again; often, when there is true devotedness, with an unbroken will, there is a great deal of energy in preaching or doing. It is painful to see, at times, with much devotedness, really no spirituality ; like Martha, cumbered about much serving, or the disciples going a-fishing. This declension is very specious, because many, as well as the person himself, regard such a course as very useful. It is the occupation with the usefulness which feeds the declension. Generally, those under this form are buoyed up with their own sense of what they had done—ready to say, • We have left all, and followed thee." When power works here, they are oc
cupied with their gain in Christ, and not with their service, or their surrender for Him.
One more case. A declension of a very covert character, and one not easily corrected, is, when one contends and suffers for the right position -- the heavenly position-and while, like the two and a half tribes, he endures in battle to secure the position, he never tastes or knows the good of it, nor is he marked by the power of it. The position of a heavenly man, without the power, is delusive. It is the power that makes known the reality of the position. The two and a half tribes fought for the position in Canaan, but never enjoyed the land, their hearts were where their families and their cattle were. No one could, in faith, accept the position of a heavenly man, without being characterised by separation from this world, a real severance from all on this side Jordan. Perhaps, in no way has the testimony suffered more than by insisting on heavenly position without practical self-deniai.
Worldly honours may be declined, while there is as much consideration for oneself in earthly things, as if there were nothing greater.
The Lord give us such a sense of the greatness and reality of our heavenly portion, that we may be found more truly in His path here.
EXTRACTS. THE simple thing to lay hold of is Christ's work-His work determines my standing. Where His work puts me, a believer, there I am. Christ's work embraces the beginning and the end. It must do so, or it would not be finished. There must be an end as well as a beginning. Out of Egypt, and in the land ; out of the far country, and in the Father's house ; as you get, in figure, in Exodus xxiv., the blood shed, and heaven in sight. Hence our blessed Lord begins with the finish of His work to the woman of Samaria (John iv.), and He calls His work