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only a solitary pear here and there tells of its name and nature.
One requires to be in the presence of the Lord in a scene of unclouded purity, to be able to form an adequate idea of the terrible power and machination of Satan at work, when saints openly turned aside from the greatest servant God had ever used to instruct them. If they had never tasted of the good of the truth, if they never had heard of it from the lips of the apostle of the Gentiles, there would have been some palliation for their perversion and moral blindness. But to be so stultified that they should belie the truth they had once accepted, and thus close their eyes to the brightest light that ever shone into the heart of man, declares that they had fallen under the power of distinct Satanic aggression.
Thus the era of retrogression began, and surely there is no one who has carefully taken note of the opposition to the truth in our time, but must have seen how one of the most significant marks of the enemy's power, is the
shameless way in which some have turned away from the truth which they had once accepted, as well as from the teacher they once revered as God's messenger of it.
Now while this deep dark foe was preying on the consciences of the saints, secretly abstracting from them the very eyesight of the soul, there were also in the assembly openly, "profane and vain babblings" which would "increase unto more ungodliness;" so much so, that two men, well known, maintained that the resurrection had taken place already; that is, that there would be an open denial of fundamental truth. When the assembly became so demoralised as to suffer such an intrusion, it was very evident that the Lord's presence was not there ; that the saints were not in faith gathered to His name. If there had been even two or three of them thus gathered, such a grievous intrusion would have been resisted; and if the conscience of the assembly, not merely the conscience of a few, were not aroused to the enormity of their course,
there was then nooption left but to separate from these vessels to dishonour.
In the first instance we have the abandonment of the teacher sent of God, and once accepted as such. Next we have in the assembly the unblushing advocacy of a teaching which undermines Christianity; "saying that the resurrection has taken place already." Many in Christendom are leavened with this doctrine, who would not avow it. Surely the godless way in which Christians, Corinthian-like, seek pleasure as if their bodies were not the Lord's, is a practical denial of the resurrection of the body; it is the principle of “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” (1 Cor. xv. 32.) Is it to be wondered at that concurrent with, or consequent upon, an avowed abandonment of the apostle (the servant of God, to whom specially the truth of "the mystery of the gospel committed), the next inroad of the enemy would be to introduce false doctrine into the assembly ? When this evil was permitted in the house of
God it was defiled, and the only course open to the faithful, was simply to separate from the vessels to dishonour, and to identify themselves with those " who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Thus as a true remnant they would maintain the truth which had been relinquished, and they, gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, would still enjoy His presence here, and as God's house, where He could make known His pleasure.
Hence the action of divine power is greater in restoring than in introducing. In the latter a space is necessary, but in the other all the influences which together had dismantled and almost destroyed the assembly-God's house -are overcome, and it comes forth, as it were, from the dead in spite of them. Satan seemed to succeed when everything was at its prime, but God sets Satan at nought when, through even a handful, He restores the testimony, and then, too, there is a greater manifestation of His power forus, though not by us.
We have considered the nature of the opposition to the truth when failure set in. Now we have to dwell on the character of it in “difficult times.” The opposition in these times is twofold ; one when the truth is withstood by an exhibition of power, and the other, when their ears are turned away from the truth, and are turned to fables. The first is more with reference to the teachers; the second, to the congregation at large.
It is almost inscrutable, how one professing to be a Christian, could attempt to withstand the truth, like Jannes and Jambres. We must remember that these withstood Moses by claiming to do the same works hat Moses did by “the finger of God." They would neutralise that which was of God, by shewing that they, by their enchantments, could do the same. Their object was to defeat the work of God, and to prove that they were as powerful as Moses, because they could do the same as he did. They did not assume to be sent of God, as Moses