PSALMS CXXXIX. 15,16.

"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."

A request has been made for our views through the SIGNS on the above Scripture. So far as we know, this portion of the Word has to do with what we have understood to be one of the fundamental points of doctrine, believed and contended for by readers of the SIGNS from its very beginning: namely, the eternal vital union of the church with Christ. We do not understand that there was merely a sufficiency of eternal life in Christ for each and every member of his mystical body, the said body to be created at some future time and a portion of this eternal life allotted to the individual members of it at the time of regeneration after they become the sons and daughters of Adam. This idea does not harmonize, as we see it, with other portions of Scripture. In the first chapter of Genesis, the record is that God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." In the fifth chapter of Genesis, first and second verses, we have this language: "This is the book of the regeneration of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." These quotations appear to confirm what we understand to be taught in the Bible, that Eve was created in Adam, to be later separated and manifested as an help meet for him; he said of her, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." As they were created in the image and likeness of God, it seems clear to us that the bride, the Lamb's wife, the church, was the workmanship of God, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Therefore the psalmist could well say, speaking in Christ's stead, "My substance was not hid from thee, which I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." "For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found in a desert land, and in a waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye." The apostle Paul says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," and in the verses we are considering there are some of the deep and mysterious things of our God hidden from the wise and prudent of this world, neither can any man by searching find them out; they must be revealed if known at all. We seem to see something of the secret work of our God in his great purpose whereby he purposed to glorify himself and lift the name of Jesus on high, in the declaration that "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." Therein is involved the fall of Adam, through which the church was to come under the condemnation and death of the law by transgression, and the sending of God's own blessed Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin to condemn sin in the flesh: "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." In that the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God, was made flesh and dwelt among us, was he not, indeed, "curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth"? Did this not embrace the new creation, God-Man in union with the members of his body? Then, following, he goes on to say, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect." Let every inhabitant of Zion rejoice and break forth into singing praises to God from whom all blessings flow, though every member of the body of Christ fell in their federal head, Adam, neither are they only black with sin by nature, but by practice as well, nevertheless the eye of their heavenly Father sees them, and he careth for them. This body which was to be sown in weakness and was to fall in the earth and die, was to be ransomed from the burnings of hell and raised in great power and glory, through the complete and finished work of redemption by its glorious head, and though in and of itself it is vile and black, and imperfect, yet it is perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. The church as it has always stood in Christ, has never been imperfect, but "unperfect:" that is to say, it has not always, neither is it yet fully manifest in the world, but the name of each and every member stands recorded by the eternal pen of Almighty God in the Lamb's book of life, and there is none in heaven, in earth or in hell who will ever be able to eradicate the name, or their right to that inheritance which is above, from the divine record. "In thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them," are the words of none other than Christ as he spoke by the mouth of his servant David. Therefore, they shall withstand all the assaults of men and devils. How good it is to rest upon the solid foundation, that God is the Rock, his work is perfect. Having begun it, he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. We may be assured, then, that every one whose name stands recorded in the Book of Life, according to the electing of love of God, shall sing praises unto him and the Lamb when all things else that are earthly will have decayed. Time is unfolding by degrees that which God had purposed in his own Son before time began, and it will not end until he will have brought the very last one of his precious jewels from the regions of despair. "Which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." Back, before the creation of Adam, the church stood in Christ, when as yet there was none of the members of his body in evidence in the flesh, but in the process of "which in continuance were fashioned," they were brought into manifestation and through the suffering of death as a consequence of sin they are conformed to the image of him who loved them and gave himself for them. How poor, finite mortals of the earth do stagger with wonder and amazement when they are given to comprehend something of the glorious mystery of godliness and God's wonderful works among the children of men, that he loved Jacob and hated Esau, before either were born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. They are made to know, of a truth, that "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table." When we can, by faith, understand something of the Trinity, the three-in-one God, of the three separate and distinct offices of each, and at the same time the one-ness and unity of all, also the union of Christ with his people, we can but feel that these things are too wonderful for us and that we cannot attain unto them. Should we attempt to inquire into the matter, as to the "when" and the "how," we find it is said of him, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." "Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?" We like to meditate upon the union of Christ and the church, and sometimes it seems good to sin,

"In union with the lamb,
    From condemnation free,
The saints from everlasting were,
    And shall forever be.

In cov'nant from of old,
    The sons of God they were;
The feeblest lamb in Jesus' fold
    Was bless'd in Jesus there.

Its bonds shall never break,
    Tho' earth's old columns bow;
The strong, the tempted and the weak,
    Are one with Jesus now.

With joy lift up your heads,
    Ye highly favored few,
When through the earth destruction spreads,
    For what shall injure you?

When storms or tempest rise,
    Or sins your peace assail,
Your hope in Jesus never dies,
    'Tis cast within the veil.

Here let the weary rest,
    Who love the Savior's name;
Though with no enjoyment blest,
    This covenant stands the same."

We are aware of the fact that some of our good brethren, those whom we love for the truth's sake, who have, possibly, a far deeper and clearer insight into the glorious and blessed truths than we can ever hope to have, do not see eye to eye with us in what we have endeavored to set forth here. We have no way of knowing what understanding our inquirer has of the Scripture in question, or to what intent and purpose the query was made, though we would by no means infer that he had any other motive than to gain some knowledge of a spiritual nature or be confirmed in his own views. We hope we are agreed and that we may be comforted by the mutual faith of each other, but regardless of the views of others, when we are called upon to testify to the things of our God, in faithfulness to him, we feel compelled to set forth the truth according to the light that has been given us, without making any apologies, at the same time hoping that God may so give us to understand and contend for his truth as to glorify him, and build up and edify, not tear down and confuse, the saints in their most holy faith. Concerning spiritual gifts, Paul says there is a diversity of them, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." The conclusion would appear to be, that there is one body, but many members, and that all are necessary for the good of the whole, so, Let not the hand say to the foot, I have no need of thee; or the eye to the ear, &c., for all have their place and need of each other, forgetting not that Christ is the head over all things to the church, and that he is not divided. Let us, therefore, labor together as much as in us is for the glory of God, showing, if possible, that we have been with and learned of Jesus. Let us not make a brother an offender for a word, nor require of each other to write or speak in our own prescribed stereotyped form, but taking the Scriptures as our pattern and guide, in faith, order and practice, endeavoring to shew forth the praises of him who loved us and gave himself for us.

R.L.D.
Signs of the Times
Volume 98, No. 2
February, 1930