THE FIFTH WARNING.
Chap. xii. 14-29.
Against the Rejection of God's Son.
FOLLOW AFTER SANCTIFICATION.
XH.—14. Follow after peace with all men, and the sanotifloation without which no man shall see the Lord.
The Section on Patience in Tribulation (the Patience of Hope), is concluded, and their now remains the subject of Love and Good Works. It is as if the writer began here what he gives in chap, xiii., but was led into his last warning by the thought of so many who fail in the pursuit of holiness and fall back. When the warning is concluded he returns to his subject in chap. xiii.
Follow after peace with all men, and aanctification. My
relation to my fellow-men is most intimately one with my relation to God. ln the Beatitudes we have mercy and purity following each other: Blessed are the merciful—Blessed are the pure in heart. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable. Where there is no peace with men, peace with God cannot be enjoyed. Paul writes: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, be at peace with all men. In our summons to dwell in the Holiest, we remember how the call to faith, Let us draw nigh, was at once followed by that to love, Let us consider one another, to provoke to love and good works.
Follow after sanctification, lit. "holy-making." We know this word. Holiness is the highest glory of God, and so holymaking is the being taken up into His fellowship, and being made partakers of His holiness. lt is receiving into our nature and character the spirit of that heavenliness and holiness in which He dwells. Follow holy-making, without which no man shall see the Lord. Holy-making is the spiritual preparation, the inner capacity for meeting the Lord, and being at home with Him. The passages in the Epistle, in which we have already had the word, will be our best instruction as to the way in which we are to follow after holiness.
He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. lt is Jesus who makes holy. Of God are ye in Him, who is made of God unto us sanctification. lt is the living Christ who is our sanctification; the more deeply we enter into His life on earth, His obedience, His doing God's will, His giving Himself up to God alone, the more we have this His life abiding in us, the holier shall we be. Holiness is the losing of self and being clothed upon with the spirit and likeness of Jesus.
Jesus spake: I come to do Thy will, 0 God. In which will we have been sanctified. By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The more deeply l enter into the truth, or rather the truth enters into my life, that the sacrifice of Jesus is the crowning act of His perfect surrender to God's will and giving up everything to be one with it, and that it is in His doing of that will, that / have been sanctified—the clearer will my insight grow that holiness is the actual living in the will of God with my will, having the will of God the moving power of my life. Jesus doing the will of God, and sanctifying me in it, has taken me up into it, and planted me for ever in it. As l live in living union with it, doing it and rejoicing in it, that holy will becomes my holiness. lt was in the doing of God's will, and glorifying God thereby, that He was prepared for the glory; the heavenly life, which He sends down by His Spirit into my heart, is a life in which God's will is always and perfectly done; to live in God's will is the true following after sanctification.
Having boldness to enter into the Holiest—the Holiness of Holinesses—let us draw nigh. The Holiest into which we have been taken in to dwell, and the holiness which is to be our characteristic, are closely linked. There, where God dwells in His holiness—even there, is the dwelling of the sanctified one, who enter in by faith. There is the place where we are made holy, where the Son who sanctifies, and the will in which we are sanctified, and the presence of the Holy One, all are met and known in power. He who does not know what it is to enter in, and tarry and worship in the Holiest, to separate himself from the world and its fellowship, to hold communion with the Holy One, will seek in vain by his prayers or efforts to become holy. Holiness is found nowhere but with God in the Holiest of All. Union with Jesus the Son who sanctifies us, union with the will in which we have been sanctified ,by loving and doing it, union with God Himself in the Holies,—in these is the power of sanctification.
Then comes a fourth thought: the Son, and the will, and the presence; and—the rod of God. He chasteneth us for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness. Blessed be God that it is not only in spiritual things that we are to seek our help in the pursuit of holiness, but that everything that meets us in providence can help it too. There is not a trial or difficulty, not a disappointment or vexation, but is God's chosen instrument for making us holy. Our life in Jesus, in the will of God, in the Holiest, is all one with our life in the body and in the world. lt became God to perfect His Son through suffering; the very least of our daily crosses God will use to free us of our self-will, to draw us from the world, to point us to the example and spirit of Jesus. Follow after sanclification; everything in heaven and earth can help you in the pursuit.
Follow after peace with all men, and sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord. Seeing the Lord! What blessedness and what glory to the soul that has once learnt to love Him! As the bride puts on her beautiful garments, to meet him she loves and to whom she is to be united, the call comes to us to put on our holy garments, to array ourselves in the beauty of holiness to meet our Lord. Let our whole heart respond in the prayer: Lord! make me holy, that l may be found ready to meet thee when thou comest.
7. This sanctification is as much by faith as justification. Both are receioed in union rnlth Christ: the peace of the one and the power of the other are found in the abiding union through an abiding habit of faith.
2. Follow after—the same words as in Phil. lii. 12, 14; l press on, if that l may apprehend; I press on toward the gval. lt is the thought of the race—pressing on after holiness, fellowship with God, with Jesus, with God's will.
OF FALLING SHORT OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
XII.—16. Looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled;
16. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his own birthright.
17. For ye know that even when hs afterward desired to Inherit the blessing, he was rejected (for he found no place for repentance), though he sought It diligently with tears.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, was the warning in chap. iii. And in chap iv., Let us fear lest any one come short of the rest. And in chap, x., Let us consider one another, exhorting one another. Here it is the same thought — Looking carefully—the word really means taking oversight—lest there be any man: each is not only to care for himself, but for his brother too; lest there be any man—there must not, through our lack of faithfulness, be one— that falls short of the grace of God. Here we have again the great danger against which the Epistle warns us earnestly. It is the terrible complaint from which every congregation suffers. There are so many who, just as lsrael left Egypt, but came short of the promised rest, for a time make an earnest Christian profession, and yet come short of the grace of God—receive the grace of God in its beginnings in vain: never truly become possessed of it and by it. As it was true of the Galatians, with all their zeal for religion and its forms, so of these too: Ye are fallen away from grace (Gal. v. 4). The running of the race with patience; holiness, or even the earnest pursuit of it; the joy and the power and the fruit of the Christian life—all are wanting. Let us look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.
Three things are mentioned as causes and marks of this falling short of grace. Lest any root of bitterness springing np trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled. The root of bitterness may refer to a person, who by wrong conduct or doctrine causes trouble, and leads others astray. Or it may refer to the error itself, some mode of thought or behaviour by which the many are defiled. The spirit of the world; too great interest in temporal things; bitterness in religious differences; being led by the carnal reason more than by God's word or Spirit; giving way to sin; any of these things may be the root of bitterness, in regard to which the call sounds : Be careful, look round, and watch.
Lest there be any fornicator. Here a special sin is mentioned. Each church as a whole must watch against this sin, not waiting till it is found, but looking carefully, and doing everything to prevent, lest there be any. Christians must maintain in society the high moral tone which refuses to condone sin in either high or low. In all its members, and among its young people, it must be a witness for purity of life and lips and heart . And to all who are fallen it must seek, in the power of the gospel, to offer the helping hand of love. Lest there be any fornicator.
Or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat, sold his own birthright. We have seen that faith is ever the separation from the visible. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob sacrificed all to become heirs of the heavenly city of the future, and the heavenly blessing. Esau lived in the present: for a momentary satisfaction he parted with his blessing, the promise of God, and his inheritance in the future. And even so there are numbers who are called Christians, and yet are profane. There is nothing sacred or holy in their spirit or life. They are absorbed in the present of the possessions and pleasures of the world. To speak of their pursuit of holiness would be a mockery. Let us think of such, and mourn and pray and labour for them. Looking carefully lest there be any one of you a profane person, like Esau.
For ye know when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected (for he found no place for repentance), though he sought it diligently with tears. We remember the yet afterward of faith. What a contrast here, the afterward of the worldling. For the present with its pleasures, the divine birthright, the promise of God, and the future inheritance is neglected. And when it is too late, when the heart is shrivelled up, and the power of the will and the power of faith is lost, the thought of something better is awakened—but, alas, it is found to be too late! Many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able, when once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door! He afterward desired to inherit, but was rejected!
Looking carefully, lest any man fall short of the grace of God. What a solemn thing the Christian life is, the race for life we have to run! With what dangers we are surrounded! Our daily needs and our daily food may be our destruction. lt was eating that lost Esau his birthright. lt was eating that lost Adam and his seed the kingdom of God. lt was in refusing to eat, when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness, that Jesus won back heaven for us. ln our home, in our body, in our daily need, the temptations to ease and enjoyment, to sloth and standing still are ever around us and in us; let us take heed lest we fall short. Let us look carefully, and see if there are not others around us who are fainting and turning back, and let us count it our duty and privilege to care for them. Let us beseech grace of God to give us power in faith and love to be the deliverer of our people and our brethren. lf we feel powerless to speak to others or to influence them, let us lay ourselves before God with ihe cry that He would use us to save some: He can fill us with His Spirit and His love.
1. Looking carefully—the word is the same as bishop, overseer. Lest any man. We art all to watch over each other. Do we really take the state of Christians to heart? Do we indeed look round carefully and lovingly, to consider what can be done? Consider Jesus! consider one another l—rAe two commands are inseparable.
2. Afterward, he was rejected! O my brother, lf you have escaped this danger, l beseech you, by the mercy of God, think of those who are in lt, and say to God that you will do anything He wishes you to save them from that terrible fate.
NOT SINAI, BUT SION.
XII.—18. For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with flre, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19. And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard In treated that no word more should be spoken unto them:
20. For they , could not endure that which was enjoined, If even a beast touch the mountain, It shall be stoned;
21. And so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.
lN confirmation of the call to follow after sanctification, and the warning against falling short of the grace of God, or despising the birthright blessing, we are now reminded of what our true position is as believers, and what the fulness of blessing of which we have been made partakers. This is set before us first by way of contrast: We are not come to Mount Sinai (18-21) the place and state of Israel at the giving of the law. Then we are told (22-24) what the wonderful life is to which we now have access: We are come to Mount Sion. lt is only the living faith that realises our true position and privileges, that will nerve us in the pursuit of holiness, and keep us from falling short.
Our whole Epistle has taught us that all God's dealing with man is founded on the principle of two dispensations—the one of preparation and promise, of weakness and failure; the other of fulfilment and perfection, of life and power, the power of the endless life. The Epistle has taught us, too, that though we now have our place in the new dispensation, we, just as the Hebrews, may be living in the old, through ignorance and unbelief, experiencing nothing of the power and the life of the better covenant. As a consequence, all the weakness and sin of lsrael of old still continues in the Christian; he knows not what the eternal redemption is, and cannot live in it. We have the difference between these two dispensations in the suggestive words: Ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched: Ye are come unto Mount Sion. Which things contain an allegory: for these are two covenants; one from Mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, and answereth to the Jerusalem that now is. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother (Gal. iv. 22-26). The whole secret of the Christian life lies in the right apprehension of the difference between the two systems, the one with the spirit of bondage and fear, the other with its boldness and liberty.
Ye are not come to the mount that might he touched,1 with its fear and terror, with its command not to draw nigh under pain of death, and its words which only made them that heard entreat that no word more should be spoken to them, with the mediator of the covenant himself saying, I exceedingly fear and quake. All this is a symbol of what the law does; it works wrath and fear and death. It comes with demands we cannot fulfil; with its threats it rouses to effort and performance, but gives neither the love of God's will nor the power
1 "The apostle reminds us of seven things in connection with the giving of the law—(1) The mount touched by God; (2) Fire; (3) Blackness of cloud; (4) Darkness; (S) Thunder; (6) The sound of a trumpet; (7) The voice of God."—Saphik. Notice in the next passage the sevenfold glory of Mount Sion.
to do it. lt only discovers and condemns sin; the sense of selfreproach and self-condemnation is all it can bring. Read Rom. vii. and see there, where the law alone, and not the Spirit, is mentioned, the impotence and the wretchedness which it reveals. Read Rom. viii. and see there what the liberty and the peace, the life and the love, the joy and the strength is which comes with the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Ye are not come to the mount that might be touched. Why should it be necessary to tell the Christian this? lf Sinai is so terrible, who could wish to live there? who would not gladly accept the first message that God calls him away from there? Strange to say, the awakened soul is ever in danger of thinking that there is no way to pacify Sinai but by fulfilling its demands. God's grace is so wonderful, the way in which He has met the claims of Sinai is so divine and beyond man's comprehension, that the human heart, when it begins to seek salvation, ever does so in the way of effort. And even after we have believed in Jesus, we are always inclined to look to what we can do to satisfy the demands of God. We know not that in calling us away from Sinai to Mount Sion, God not only gives us a free and full pardon for sin, but the law written in the heart, the power for a new obedience by the Holy Spirit, and the fitness for entering into His presence, and dwelling in unbroken fellowship with Him.
Ye are not come to Mount Sinai This is just the word every Christian needs who is in danger of being discouraged and fainting in the race. You are not under the law. Your complaints that when you would do good, evil is present with you, prove that you are still under the law, trying to fulfil it. It is all in vain. You must ask for the Holy Spirit's teaching, to show you how entirely you are taken from under the shadow of Sinai, and placed on Mount Sion. Oh, try to understand what God is speaking to you in His Son. Christ is to be your life. In the power of an endless life He is your High Priest, bringing you near to God; He is your covenant Mediator, putting in divine reality the law into your inmost parts ; your Priest-King, sending from His throne the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself as the law of your life. Ye are not come to Mount Sinai; its fear and terror are exchanged for faith and trust . Come and live by faith, and Christ will be your life.
1. in studying the meaning of a word or truth, lt is often most helpful in cases where we are in danger of confounding, owing to apparent resemblances, things that differ, to find out what lt is not. There is so much in salvatlon by the law that looks like true salvation, that many are all their life led astray. lt is, therefore, of infinite consequence to know well what this means: Ye are not come to. The place to which Christ brings you to, not in the least Mount Sinai. Say now, l have nothing to do with Mount Sinai.
2 Mount Sinai means, as mr.n takes lt, life by self-effort, by our own goodness, Got helping us; by a religion of self, with God's grace to fill out what self cannot do. Mount Sinai, as God means it, is sin and wrath and condemnation: the death and the end of self, to prepare the way for Christ . Mount Sinai points away to Mount Sion and to Christ. There He does all.
YE ARE COME UNTO MOUNT SION.
XII.—22. But ye are oome unto Mount Slon, and unto the olty of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to Innumerable hosts of angels,
23. To the general assemby and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to Ood the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24. And to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel.
Ye are come unto Mount Sion. A traveller by train has often reached a place without his knowing that he is there. The guard or a friend has to tell him. Often it is because that he had expected the journey to last longer. So deep is there in us the spirit of salvation by effort and attainment, by what we are and feel, that the rousing call is needed continually. Here you are, sooner than you thought, in very deed, come to Mount Sion! Come, let us walk about Sion, and go round about her. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Sion. God has made Himself known in her palaces for a refuge! Let us consider its sevenfold glory as here set before us. And may God, in the power of His Holy Spirit within us, reveal to us what it means, that we are come unto Mount Sion, that we have been made meet for dwelling there, that Mount Sion is in actual spiritual reality our dwelling-place, where the powers of the heavenly world rest upon us and work in us.
1. Te are come onto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Read the description of the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelations (xxi. 1-3, 10, 11 ; xxii. 27; xxii. 1-5), and listen to the voice: Behold! the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. The Lord God Almighty, and tlie Lamb are the temple thereof. The glory of God did lighten it, and the light thereof is the Lamb. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein; and His servants shall do Him service; and they shall see His face. This is the glory to which Jesus has brought thee in, when He took away the veil. ln the power and experience of that opened way the Holy Spirit enables thee to live. This is the city which Abraham looked for, which hath the foundations. Thou art come to it. Of this city thou art now a citizen. In it thou canst live, for thou hast been brought into the Holiest, the very centre of the city, the very presence of God. Ye are come unto Mount Sion.
2. And to innumerable hosts of angels. These are they who stand around the throne of God, and who fulfil His will. These are they through whom the power of God works in all nature. These are they who are sent out to minister to the heirs of salvation. With these, their worship and obedience, we are now in fellowship, doing the will of our Father as it is done in heaven.
3. To the general assembly and Church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven. That is, the Church on earth, enrolled in heaven, but not yet gathered in. They are the firstborndestined, as having the image of the firstborn One, to take the first place in creation among all the creatures of God (Col. i. 15; Jas. i. 18.) God keep us from despising this our birthright; let us live as God's firstborn, in living union with all His saints on earth.
4. And to God the Judge of all . lt is not only to the living God, dwelling in the city of God, that we are come, but to Him who is Judge of all. Our redemption gives us such deliverance from sin, that we have already been admitted to the home of our Judge.
5. And to the spirits of just men made perfect. These are the saints in heaven. There are those on earth who are called perfect (v. 14), but these are they who, like Christ, have been wholly perfected. These spirits, too, waiting for the redemption of the body, belong to the blessed fellowship to which we have been admitted.
6. And to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant. Moses was the mediator of the covenant on Sinai; Jesus, of the better covenant, enacted upon better promises. The covenant, we saw (viii. 6-13), has specially to do with our heart, with our fitness for holding fellowship with God, with a will and a life in perfect unison with God's will. ln Mount Sion we are come to Jesus, who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, lives and does all His saving work within us.
7. And the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better than that of Abel . What a heavenly mystery! lt is not enough that for our life in the city of God we have Jesus, the living One, as our life; we find there too the token of His death—the blood of sprinkling, speaking, pleading for us each moment. Speaking, not as Abel's, of wrath, but of atonement and eternal redemption. We are come to the blood, not only as shed on earth, but as sprinkled in heaven—our boldness, our cleansing, our sanctification; speaking to God for us, speaking for God to us, of peace and love; speaking in divine, in heavenly power within us.
Christian, to all this you are come. Just as sure as you are come to God in the Holiest, to dwell with Him, you are come1 to all this, and dwell in the midst of it . God hath brought you to it by the Holy Spirit, and will, by the Holy Spirit, reveal it in your heart, so that you know the things which are freely given you of God. Can it be, that any are content to sleep on, while the call is heard: You are come to the heavenly Jerusalem—enter in and dwell here. There is no other choice—can it be that any will prefer to live under Sinai and its bondage? Can it be that any will count the price too great, and, because they love the world, refuse, with Abraham and Moses, to go out and live by faith, in this city of God. God forbid that it should be so with us. Let Sion, the city of God, with its heavenly joy, and its beauty of holiness, and its eternal life power, be the place of our abode. The Holy Spirit, sent down when Jesus had entered and opened the gates for us, brings down into our hearts the very life and light of heaven, brings us into the experience of it all.
1. 8alvatlon brings to the city of God, to a fellowship of the saints, to a social life of mutual intercourse and help. To find our happiness in the welfare of others, for the sake of Jesus Christ, is of the essence of religion, is a condition of the dwelling in Mount Sion.
2. l saw the New Jerusalem come down from heaven: that took place in part on the day of Pentecost. The kingdom of heaven descended upon earth, in the power of the Holy Spirit, into the hearts of those praying disciples. lt is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that this Ye are come unto Mount Zion can be more than a beavtiful imagination.
3. The Holy Spirit makes all the work and glory of Jesus an inward life in our heart. Let everg word like this, Ye are come, that is too high for us, make us believe more firmly in His hidden inward teaching. He will work in our heart more than our mind can understand.
1 The word come is the same as in iv. 16; vii. 25; x. I, 22, dram nigh.
OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.
XII.—2 5. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For If they escaped not, when they refused Mm that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape, who turn away from him that warneth from heaven:
26. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven.
27. And this word, Yet once more, slgnifleth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.
28. Wherefore, reoelving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe:
29. For our God Is a consuming fire.
See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. The writer is full of the danger of their falling short, tarrying under Sinai, and perishing there. For the third time (see ii. 2; x. 26) he urges the Hebrews to remember how much more terrible the punishment of sin will be under the New than under the Old. The certainty and the sureness of the punishment under the law give us terrible warning of the danger we incur. Greater privileges bring greater responsibility; the neglect of these, greater punishment. If they escaped not, when they refused Him that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape, who turn away from Him that warneth from heaven. The terrors of Sinai will be far surpassed by the awful judgment on those who refuse Him that speaks from Mount Sion. Mount Sion has its terrors too; let these, far more terrible than Mount Sinai, rouse us to accept its wonderful blessing. He whose voice then shook the earth, hath spoken, Tet once more, I will make to tremble not the earth only, but the heaven also. And this word, Tet once more, signifleth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that these things which are not shaken may remain. ln that final shaking all created things will be removed, that only the things which cannot be shaken, the city that hath foundations, may remain. ln that day nothing will stand but that Mount Sion, which shall never be moved, and they that dwell there.
Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. There is only one thing that cannot be shaken: the kingdom of God—that spiritual world in which His will is done and His love revealed. That kingdom we receive by faith into our hearts. The kingdom of God is within you. And the more our faith knows and owns, amid the things that are shaken and shall not remain, the un movable kingdom, the more will itself become firm and steadfast, and enable us to stand unshaken and immovable too.
Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God, with godly fear and awe. Let us have grace—let us accept, and realise, and always hold fast the grace promised at the throne of grace (iv. 16) for every time of need. Whereby we may offer service well - pleasing to God. We have been cleansed by the blood from dead works to serve the living God. Our entrance into the Holiest and our drawing nigh was that we might serve Him day and night in His temple—serve Him so that we obtain the witness that our service is well-pleasing. Nothing less can satisfy either our heart or His heart. But this is what grace will indeed effect. lt will not only pardon, and not only accept and cover what is defective; it will enable us to offer service well-pleasing to God. Let us have grace and faith for this; without faith it is impossible to please God.
That we may offer service well-pleasing to God with godly fear and awe: for our God is a consuming fire. Jesus was heard for His godly fear. Noah was moved with godly fear. The Father of Jesus, the God of Noah, is our God; surely it becomes us to serve Him with godly fear. lt will be one of the sure fruits of grace in us. The awful realities of sin and judgment that Noah and Christ had to deal with still exist and surround us. The holiness and the glory of God, the power and the curse of sin, our own utter weakness and the terrible danger of the multitudes around us, call every Christian to offer his service to God with godly fear and awe.
For our God is a consuming fire. The fire and blackness and darkness of Sinai were but shadows—the reality will be seen when God breaks forth in His judgment on those who reject His Son. His holiness is a fire, which, by the eternal law of His nature, must consume all that is evil. His love is a fire, which must burn up and destroy all that hinders or refuses the triumph of love.
Fire may be either a blessing or a curse. All depends upon my relation to it whether it meets me as a friend or an enemy. The fire of God, as it comes to purify, to consume the sacrifice and convert it into its own heavenly light-nature, to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire, to transform our being into flames of love,—blessed the man who knows His God as a consuming fire. But woe to him on whom the fire of God descends, as on Sodom and Gomorrha, in wrath and judgment. Oh that in the fulness of faith all believers might see and fear this impending judgment, and, moved with the compassion of Christ, give themselves to warn men and snatch them from the fire. For our God is a consuming fire.
1. l know almost nothing that makes one feel his own impotence more than when a sight is gioen of the apprvaching fate of so many around us, and lt is as lf nothing avails to arouse or save them. Our only hope is to place ourselves persistently at His feet who is mighty to save, and wait on Him for the fire of His zeal and love to burn within us.
2. Godly fear and awe. "For as good as God is, so great is He; and as much as it belongeth to His Godhead to be loved, so much lt belongeth to His greatness to be dreaded. And this reverent dread is the fairest worship that is in heaven before God's face. And as much as He shall be loved, overpassing that He is now, insomuch shall He be dreaded overpassing that He is now. And well l wot that the Lord has shown me no souls that love Him but those that dread Him." (.TREES PLANTED BY THE RlVER.)