We have been called on to publish our views on the portions of Scripture referred to above, and in obedience to the desire of our friends we cheerfully present such views as we have upon the subject. It has been thought by some that the prophet in this text contrasts the child of God with the unregenerated idolater, but a careful investigation of the subject will, we think, convince the candid inquirer after truth that the whole subject is addressed to the real Israelites, who represent the real children of God. The subjects addressed were those who among the people of Israel, “Fear the Lord and obey the voice of his servant,” especially such of them as “walk in darkness, and have no light.” We do not understand by this description of the subjects of the address, that the servants of God, who fear him and obey the voice of his servant, never enjoyed the light of divine revelation, the light of life, or the light of the divine presence experimentally, but those simply, who for the time being are walking in darkness, from whom, for the trial of their faith, the Lord withholds the sensible radiance of his gracious presence. This is not infrequently the case with the people of God, as we may justly infer from the often repeated lamentations of the saints of both the new and old dispensations. This very prophet, Isaiah, was led to cry out, “Verily thou art a God that hideth thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior,” and David said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” The disciples’ eyes were holden sometimes, even when Jesus was personally with them, even in the flesh, that they should not for a time know him. There probably is not a saint on earth who would not utterly despair, if compelled to believe that God’s children are never left in a state of darkness, wherein they walk having no light. Those who profess to be always in the light, to have no dark seasons, no fiery trials or distressing doubts, are regarded justly as strangers in Israel. But the text contemplates those who walk in darkness, because they fear the Lord. Notwithstanding their darkness, they still walk, and that in obedience to the voice of his servant. To such only as walk in darkness, and have no light, is the blessed privilege given, to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God. The servant, or servants of the Lord, whose voice was to be obeyed by the God-fearing Israelites, were those holy men, by whom God spike to the fathers. They all spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Hence the communications of God by them demanded obedience, and that, too, whether they were in the light, or in a state of darkness. But, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” And his Son has appeared in the flesh, and taken on him the form of a servant. In his transfiguration, a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” He was spoken of by the prophet as God’s servant who should deal prudently, who should be exalted and extolled, and be very high. He came down from heaven, to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish the work. The apostles of the Lamb were also servants of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and divinely commissioned to set in order authoritatively, all things pertaining to the doctrine, order and ordinances of the christian church. Under the gospel dispensation therefore, those who obey the voice of his servant, are those who obey our Lord Jesus Christ as their King and supreme Commander, and by his authority, his apostles, as those whom he has seated on thrones of judgment in his kingdom.
We may fairly infer that our darkness does not release us who fear the Lord, from our obligation to obey the commandments of Christ, whether they be enjoined by him personally, or through his inspired apostles; in either case they are the voice of his servant, in the prophetic sense of our text.
Now then, Who is among you that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? What shall be done in such a case, and under such circumstances? True, it is a trying state to be in, and to have to walk in the dark is certainly to walk by faith, and not by sight. The faith which is of the operation of God, always leads its subjects to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God, for it destroys all confidence in the flesh. When all is total darkness around us, we cannot walk by sight, for we have none, we must therefore either stand still, or walk with a reliance on our guide. Christians who walk in darkness, can trust in nothing short of the name of the Lord, nor is there anything that can stay or support them, but their God. Why are they directed to trust in the name of the Lord? Because the saints have an interest in the name of the Lord, as the son has an interest in the name of his father, or as the wife has in the name of her husband. The legitimate son has a legal right to bear the name of his father, as an indemnity against want. The wife who has no other reliance or means of subsistence, feels perfectly composed, while her husband’s name is good at the bank, for all that she needs, for any sum that she may ask. By marriage union, she has a right in that name to the extent of all that is necessary for her support and comfort. Thus our beloved Lord has instructed his bride, that whatsoever she shall ask of the Father, in his name, he will do it. If she is in the dark, and needs light, or wisdom, she will call upon the Father of lights, in the name of her Husband, who is her Lord, and he will give liberally and not upbraid her.
The admonition in the next verse of our text, is to the same character, and shows the consequence of disregarding the instruction given her to trust only in the name of the Lord, by trying to supply her lack of light and comfort by her own inventions. It has been said in relation to natural things, that “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and what has been more common with the saints when cold and comfortless, when dark and disconsolate, than the suggestion from the flesh that they must do something to improve their condition? When we are in total darkness, the question is, Can we not kindle a fire that will afford some light? And when cold, Can we not make a fire that will afford us comfort and warmth? Under these circumstances and impressions, the dear children of the living God have often been tempted by the devil, and inclined by their own ungodly natures to forget that they have renounced all confidence in the flesh, and trust alone in the name of their Lord, and stay alone upon their God. The flattering tempter tells them they are not machines, they must be up and doing, they must use means, they must gather sticks, although it be the antitypical Sabbath, and they must kindle fires, and compass themselves about with sparks, and warm in the heat of their fire, and walk in the light of the fire which they have kindled. Alas! how often have the children been thus beguiled. Get up a protracted meeting, call in some skillful manager who can get up a revival, collect some combustible matter, make a blaze, and then raise the shout, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire!” But is this trusting in the name of the Lord? Or is this staying upon our God? Is it not a lamentable evidence of distrust in God, when we resort to the inventions of human reason, for religious prosperity or comfort? This shall they have of the Lord’s hand, they shall lie down in sorrow, for the Lord will chastise them for their follies. He will not consign them to the perdition of the ungodly, but he will cause them to lie down in sorrow, for their departure from the pathway of righteousness. But who ever heard of an unregenerated sinner being sorry for having kindled religious fires? They glory in it. From pulpit and from press their vain gloryings are proclaimed abroad. We are ridiculed by those, as anti-efforts, inert do-nothings, &c., who will not worship their net, and burn incense to their drag.
As an encouragement to the faith of God’s dear children who walk in darkness and have no light, still to trust in the name of the Lord, instead of looking to themselves or to their own works or inventions for light or comfort, they are in this connection called to hearken to the Lord, and look to the rock whence they are hewn, and the pit whence they are digged, to look unto Abraham their father, and unto Sarah that bare them. Abraham walked in total darkness, so far as human wisdom or light is concerned, for he went out not knowing whither he went. In regard to God’s covenant with him, and his seed in him, he had simply to trust in God. Nature could afford no light or comfort in regard to what God had promised. Abram was stricken with years, and his body as good as dead, before the promised seed was born, yet he staggered not at the promise, for he believed God, and trusted in the name of the Lord. And when he was called to take his only son, even Isaac, and offer him upon an altar, he had to walk in darkness, without any light of nature to aid his vision. Yet he knew that God was able to raise up Isaac even from the ashes of the altar, and he trusted in his God. Look also unto Sarah, whose incredulity, laughed at the promise of a son, unless it could be brought to pass by the use of means, on the account of which she ultimately laid down in sorrow. But God was faithful to his promise, and at the appointed time the promised seed was born, according to the word of the Lord. “I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him,” saith the Lord. Look then to this example of God’s power and faithfulness, and be not faithless, but believing. Not only was Abraham alone when God called him, but God alone blessed and increased him. No aid was required to assist him in the performance of the work, no contributions to replenish his treasury, no bond maids for instruments, nor human contrivances to facilitate the end. God was alone in calling, blessing and increasing Abraham. Look at him as a solitary unit called alone. Look at him as a multitude whose number excels the stars in the firmament, or the sands on the sea shore, and say, What hath God wrought? Then shall ye be prepared to rely upon his power and faithfulness to fulfill his word that he has spoken, and the oath that he hath sworn, that he will comfort Zion in all her waste places; that he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord, without any human aid or instrumentality whatever.
Our subject affords instruction and admonition, comfort and encouragement, to all the saints who hearken unto the Lord. The Lord God and the Lamb are the light of the holy Jerusalem, there shall therefore be no need of candles or artificial lights. He is a wall of fire round about his people, and a glory in their midst; therefore they are not to kindle fires of their own for light or comfort. However dark may be their way, it is their privilege to cast their care on him, and ‘trust in his name as a strong tower, in which all his family in heaven and in earth are named. They that trust in him shall be as Mount Zion that cannot be removed; but they that seek to wizzards that peep and mutter, shall regret their folly; for he will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless his loving kindness he will not utterly take away from him, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail. Once has he sworn by his holiness that he will not lie unto David.
Middletown, N. Y.
October 1, 1855.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 247 - 252