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In the second place, our Lord had in His heart the assurance that the purpose for which He came, and over which He brooded, should be eventually accomplished. “I say unto you," He said, "they, multitudes like this centurion, shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." It was not His wish merely that was father to that thought; His assurance was not the birth of conceit and enthusiasm. His Father, Jehovah, had promised Him in covenant with an oath that so it should be. He knew what was in man, and He knew that the spirit of His Gospel was adequate to surmount every obstacle. He Himself was about to take to Himself His great power, and reign over all the elements of nature, all the agencies of providence. He well knew then that He should see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. His omniscient eye, at one glance, saw into the deepest depths of futurity; He beheld the nations of the earth flocking into His kingdom, casting their glory at His feet, bowing the knee to Him in worship; He distinctly heard, as it were, the voices of a multitude which no man could number, as the voice of many waters, as the noise of mighty thunderings, saying, “Now is come salvation, and the kingdom of Jehovah, and the power of His Christ. Hallelujah! the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Yes, the Lord could say with all this in His view—“They shall come from the east and the west; I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”
We all know to how great an extent this vision of our Lord's was verified in primitive times. Wherever the ambassadors of the Cross went forth they were caused always to triumph in Christ. It was scarcely a hyperbole when one of them spoke of the Gospel as thus preached to every creature under heaven ; its sound went forth over all the known earth, and its word to the ends of the accessible world. Since then it may appear that its course has been retarded and its range contracted; but it is not for us to judge of the times and the seasons; with the Lord a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; and our firm conviction is, that all that has transpired in the history of Christendom since primitive times—the slumber of Christians and the corruptions of Christianity-has been a process analogous to that of the seed in the earth, through which it must pass previously to its bursting forth in the efflorescence of the summer and the fruit of the harvest of our world, and will be found to have contributed ultimately to the furtherance of the Gospel and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven. But be this as it may, the signs of the times warrant us to indulge the happiest expectations. Oh, yes! the name of Jesus shall endure for ever; His name shall be continued so long as the sun--men shall be blessed in Him, and all nations shall call Him blessed.
In the third and last place, we must briefly notice the dread foreboding to which the Lord gave utterance as to the fate of His countrymen : they, the children of the kingdom, should be cast out of it; and how painfully this has been verified we all know. He came unto them as His own, and bad they received Him they would have been first and foremost among His redeemed in time and in eternity; but in one mass they despised and rejected Him, and so forfeited at once their place as a nation and their name in His kingdom on earth; and their doom was not only not to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to be cast out into outer darkness. But we should greatly err if we restricted this dread foreboding of the Lord only to His countrymen. We consider that the whole world of professing Christians have entered into the family of the Jews, and are like them the children of the kingdom ; they identify with them in the extent of their advantages and responsibilities; they may identify with them in their murmuring and rebellion. There are multitudes who do so; some who make light of the message of the Gospel, and always postpone its serious consideration to a more convenient season; some who fancy that they have embraced it, and are satisfied with a routine of outward observances; some who hold tenaciously to it as a creed, but in spirit and in works deny its influence. There are, in short, like the Jews, who shall have no part in the celebration of the grand banquet of the kingdom of heaven, but be cast out into outer darkness. Trifle with these things as men may, the denunciation of our Lord in the words we have been considering, if duly weighed, would make the
stoutest heart tremble. What a fate is this for men calling themselves Christians, and Christians of no mean order! What a fate is this for them to be unmasked, and dishonoured, and sundered for ever from the general assembly and church of the first-born! What a doom is this, to bid an eternal farewell to the regions of light and love and hope,—to be driven away in one's own wickedness into the wastes and wilds of the gulf of perdition, into all that is meant by the direful symbols of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth !—a state of undying torment caused by seeing themselves self-excluded from the felicity which is enjoyed by those who have received and obeyed the great truths concerning salvation through Him who is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of the living and not of the dead; the only Potentate, who alone hath immortality; the Author of eternal salvation to all who believe on His name!
THE Nazariteship, as instituted or sanctioned by the law of Moses, like all the institutions of the Israelitish Church, contains much that may be useful for enlarging our views of spiritual life, and even of Divine power and wisdom. For the Nazarite not only represented the celestial man, and the law of the Nazarite the order of his regeneration, but he was a type of the Lord Himself, whose glorification is described by the periods of His Nazariteship and the ceremonies which marked them. It is recorded in the Gospel that when Joseph, by Divine direction, brought Jesus up out of Egypt, where he had fled with Him to escape the wrath of Herod, “he came and dwelt in called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene."
We shall therefore consider the Nazariteship as it relates to the Lord and also as it respects man; for the connection between them is so intimate, that the sense of Scripture is rendered more clear and full when the light of the one is brought to bear on that of the other.
It is unnecessary to inquire into the origin and immediate the Nazariteship. It is commonly supposed to have been a custom of ascetic life among the Israelites, borrowed from the heathens, before the time of Moses; and that the law of the Nazarite was given, not to institute but only to regulate it. This is probably the case. must not infer from it that the institution, when once recognized by the Divine Lawgiver, is less spiritually significative than if it had originated in a divine command. Even supposing it to have been derived from the Gentiles, it does not follow that it originated with them. For most of the religious customs and ceremonies which were and still are found among heathen nations, are not inventions but corruptions. They originated in an age of the world when the true God was known and worshipped; but in descending through the dark ages of man's history have become perverted.
The primary meaning of the Nazariteship is separation, and the Nazarite was one who separated himself from the more common business of life to dedicate himself to the service of God. Separation from the world, to whatever extent it was carried in the Israelitish Church-and it was not carried far—is not to be considered as a pattern, but as a representative of separation from the world on the part of the Christian. The Christian is to separate himself from the evils, not from the business of life; he is to renounce the love of the world, but not to flee from
But we its uses.
The Lord, in this, as in all respects, was our pattern. He was "boly, undefiled, and separate from sinners;" yet lived and laboured in the midst of them. It is not, therefore, the separation of ourselves from the ordinary duties of life, and the dedication of our thoughts and our time to religious study or devotion, that is meant by the Nazariteship, but the separation of the ends and purposes of life from the world, and the consecration of them to God. And when this is done, the thoughts of the heart and the actions of the life, whether they relate to the body or the soul, to the world or to heaven, are all holy unto the Lord, and all serve and glorify Him. It was in this way that Jesus was separate from sinners and consecrated to God. For as a man, or as to His Humanity, He always did those things that pleased the Father, or that were in harmony with the Divinity that dwelt within Him. While His whole life was one of separation from sin, His whole life was also a progression to that perfect righteousness which finally made Him Righteousness itself, and thereby one with the Eternal Divinity. This progression is representatively described by the states through which the Nazarite passed, which we shall now consider.
The vow was taken by the Nazarite for a certain period, during which he was neither to drink wine, nor shave his hair, nor defile himself with the dead. After the period of the Nazariteship was ended, this law was no longer binding, and the things formerly denied could be indulged in. These two states evidently refer to corresponding states which the Lord himself underwent, and which every disciple of the Lord has to pass through. The Lord passed through a state of humiliation, and a state of glorification; and the disciple passes through the two analogous states of reformation and regeneration. The first state was that in which the Lord resisted the temptations of the powers of hell, and denied Himself of those gratifications the desire of which was latent in His Humanity from its birth, and became active by temptation. And this desire was such as is inherited by every man, for “in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted."
During the period of separation, which represented this state of humiliation with the Lord, and of reformation with man, the Nazarite drank no wine, nor partook of anything derived from the grape, because
, grapes and wine signify celestial and spiritual truth, which can only be appropriated and enjoyed in the second state,—that which succeeds the humiliations and trials of the spiritual life. Wine is therefore said to
make glad the heart of God and man, because the holy truth which it signifies, gladdens the heart after self-denial has prepared the mind to receive it in its purity. Before the heart has been prepared by selfdenial for its proper reception, Divine Truth is continually liable to profanation, for, like wine, truth itself may, by an ill-regulated mind, be indulged in even to excess,-spiritual intoxication being the vanity of superior knowledge. The hair also was to be allowed to grow during the Nazariteship, and this formed a prominent feature in the character of the devoted person, and is representative of an important and interesting circumstance regarding the Lord and ourselves. The hair signifies what is ultimate, or last and lowest, and when considered in reference to the Lord, it signifies His divine truth in its fullest manifestation, such as had been given in the letter of the Word, and such as He became when He assumed human nature in the world. The Lord came as the Truth, for He came as “the wisdom of God, and the power of God," to enlighten men, and to break the chain of hell in which they had been led captive. The hair of the Nazarite represented the divine truth which the Lord assumed or became by incarnation.
The Lord, to become man, necessarily took upon Him a human will and understanding, and consequently all that belongs to these faculties; and as the human understanding was created to receive the truth of God, and, in the world, that truth as it exists in the literal sense of the Word, therefore the Lord, by assuming humanity, became the Divine Truth in ultimates, which is the Word made flesh. It was this that constituted the glory of the incarnation,—that gave Him power on earth to forgive or remove sins, and to judge the prince of this world. God has spiritual power only by means of His own divine truth; His power in the world was necessarily exercised by means of that truth as revealed in the world. But when mankind ceased to believe and obey the Word, they ceased to be subject to His power; the Lord had no longer power over them, because His truth had no place in them; they therefore became subject to the power of hell, and were separated from God and heaven. By incarnation God took upon Himself that power which men had rejected; He appeared on earth as that Word that had been “despised and rejected of men,” to re-assert its authority, to establish its power, and to draw men again within the pale of its protection and blessing. The Lord took unto Him His great power and reigned.
Divine Truth in ultimates, such as it is in the literal sense of the Word, being signified by the hair of the Nazarites, it was to represent the power of this truth, in the Lord preëminently, that Samson had such extraordinary strength, and that his strength lay in bis hair. It was