A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen

ON THE FOURTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH. No.3.

{Continued}

Having in the two preceding letters on verses 3 & 4, spoken of the filth of the daughters of Zion and the blood of Jerusalem, as found among the Baptist Churches at large, I cannot say, having fully described them – I now come to speak of the means by which this filth is to be washed away, and this blood purged. The spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, are the means which the Lord will employ for this object. The expressions are rather singular. Peter speaks of “judgment beginning at the house of God.” I Pet.4:17. And Paul speaks of the “fire trying every man’s work;” in reference, as I understand him, to the materials which ‘gospel’ ministers build into the churches. I Cor.3:13. But here we have the spirit of judgment and spirit of burning. The term spirit of judgment is used, Isa.28:6, but it is there used to denote the special gift imparted, as for instance, in the case of the seventy elders, on whom the spirit which was on Moses was put. Num.11:16,25,26. And this prophecy is, that the Lord shall be unto those whose province it is to sit in judgment, in the gospel church, for, or in the place of this spirit of judgment. The churches will, no doubt, in a more eminent degree, at the period when this cleansing takes place, experience the verification of this promise, than in seasons past. And the Lord’s being unto them for a spirit of judgment, will enable them to judge more correctly between truth and error. But still I think the expression in the passage under consideration, has a different reference. It may denote the peculiar energy and effect of the judgment and burning with which the churches shall be visited, as well as signify that the afflictions shall be mental, not a material burning, as of the Israelites at Taberah. Num.11:3. Nor external judgments like those with which God often visited national Israel. It may also denote the special agency of the Holy Spirit in the thing. That the churches in consequence of their disobedience must experience severe chastisements, is manifest from many passages of Scripture. The text, I Pet.4:17, which I have already more than once quoted, goes to prove the fact. The Apostle in this passage seems to refer to the prophecy in Ezek.9, in which the men with slaughter weapons in their hands, were directed to “slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women,” but were forbidden to come near any man upon whom was the mark, and were ordered to begin at God’s sanctuary, verse 6. The men reserved, were those who had been marked for having “sighed and cried for the abominations done in the midst of Jerusalem.” And Peter’s declaration as I understand it, is, that now, under the gospel dispensation, is the time that judgment must begin at God’s sanctuary, or as he calls it, the house of God. In this prophecy of Ezekiel, those were to be preserved, who mourned over the abominations practiced in Jerusalem. Another text corresponding with this, and which seems to harmonize the two ideas of judgment, and the spirit of judgment, being visited upon the church of God is found in Zech.10:3. “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats.” The Lord’s anger is kindled against the shepherds, the leaders which cause his people to err. But the punishment will fall upon the goats which they have brought in and mingled with the sheep of their flocks; or according to Paul, I Cor.3:11,16, the wood, hay, and stubble which any pastor has built into the church, shall be burned up, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Another important enquiry relative to the spirit of judgment, and spirit of burning is, when and how are they to be made manifest? I am strongly of the opinion that the Lord is at this very time making them manifest. If I am not mistaken in this thing, the spirit of burning is showing itself as the effect of the word of truth. For wherever this word is now preached in faithfulness as the divine standard, both of doctrine and order, it is acting as a refiner’s fire, in separating between the precious and the vile. It is burning out from the churches where the truth is maintained, those whom the Scriptures denominate the wicked; that is, those who are connecting themselves with that wicked which is revealed, and are wickedly departing from God, not keeping his ways, contrary to the Psalmist, 18:21. Not only is the word thus burning them out of the churches, but it is, in the estimation of the wise who understand burning them up as stubble, root and branch, according to Mal.4:1. That is, it is burning up their standing as disciples of Christ, showing them connected with another interest than the church of Christ, and burning up the works which they are branching out, on the right and left, making them as ashes under the feet of those who fear the name of the Lord. It also burns in the hearts of those subjects of grace, who are placed under a corrupted ministry, or in corrupted churches, compelling many of them to separate themselves from such connections as it burned in Jeremiah, when he held his peace. Jer.20:8,9. God calls his word a fire. Jer.23:29. And the effect of burning is repeatedly ascribed to it. See Jer.5:14, Psalms 97:3, Isa.66:16. And in reference to the spirit of judgment; truly the rents and divisions in the churches, the distress of mind occasioned by these things, together with the coldness, and other evils connected therewith, constitute a severer judgment upon the churches and saints of God, than any external persecution would be, which the church has ever passed through. Further, this spirit of judgment and of burning, which we are experiencing, is purging the saints and churches from many things, which a while back they looked upon as proper, and even necessary. From the effects already produced, this spirit appears likely to cleanse the churches which remain as daughters of Zion, from every polluting scheme they have adopted; and to burn up every vestige of the traditionary ornaments which they have borrowed from the queens and concubines, and to bring them to a strict conformity to the word. For the truth is this fire which is kindled, I trust, by the Spirit of the Almighty, must burn so long as any combustibles in the churches. Hence, seeing the spirit of judgment and of burning is abroad in the churches, it is not to be wondered at, that Old School Baptists cannot settle down upon the practice of those esteemed Regular Baptists thirty years, or even two hundred years back, when as I have before noticed, constitutional associations, and the idea of an educated ministry began to be introduced. If I am mistaken as to this being the period intended and something different is to be experienced to cleanse the churches, we must wait the development thereof, before we can understand what is properly intended.

One remark more upon this head. Although, as I have before remarked, I understand the term daughters of Zion, to embrace all the churches constituted upon gospel principles, yet I have no idea that all such, nor than a third of them, will be left standing on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, when the spirit of judgment and spirit of burning, shall have accomplished their work. The few saints which may have remained in the apostate churches, will ultimately be burned out of them, and have to seek a home elsewhere, among their own kindred; as the corrupt professors will be burned out of the purified churches. Thus it was, as before remarked, when the Beast was manifested. There was a general connection among all the churches after much corruption had brought in, and all continued to be recognized as churches of Christ, until those corruptions had got to such an extent, that the saints could no longer submit to them, nor fellowship, as disciples of Christ, those who approved them. They had then, to separate themselves from the mass of professors, and their corruptions, and to retire, a small remnant, to the wilderness. Thus it is like to be, and thus we might expect it to be, in the setting up of the Image of the Beast, with the exception of not having to retire anew to the wilderness.

I now pass to notice the result of this trying session, as described in verse 3. “And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem. That is, every one who is not driven away by the fire of gospel truth, nor drawn away by the strong delusions which God shall send them that believe not the truth, shall be called holy, &c. The explicative added; namely, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem, may be understood to mean the same as having their names written in the book of life of the Lamb, &c. If this be the sense, the idea conveyed will be, that the elect will all then be manifested as holy. Or the expression may mean, as I think it does, numbered or accounted among the living, &c. In this sense the term written appears to be used in Psa.69:28, Ezek.13:9, and in several other texts. If this be the true meaning here, then the expression implies that all who profess to have been quickened, will be called holy – no unholy professors left among them. This accords with the declaration of our Lord, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Unto the end; that is, through the days of tribulation. Matt.24:13.

Again, the expression written among the living in Jerusalem, shows that the persons composing the Jerusalem or true gospel church, are living persons, in a sense in which others are not; consequently they must, in this peculiar sense, have been made alive by a life-giving power. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” “And you hath he quickened,” that is, God. John 6:63. Eph.2:1. Hence the Campbellite churches, which know nothing about the special operations of the Spirit, are not Jerusalem churches; they are unacquainted with the visions of peace. The same must be the case with the New School churches of this day, as their leaders say, they have no notion of these miraculous conversions. An Apostle hath said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” II Cor.5:17. And every child of grace knows from his own experience, that the power of nature never made him acquainted with what it is to be in Christ. Those who can believe that nature can produce a new creature, may as well come out atheists at once, and ascribe to nature. Brethren if we are of the living in Jerusalem, we have nothing to glory of, over others; but at the same time, whilst it becometh us to be humble under an abiding sense that grace alone has made us differ from the most self-confident, and from the vilest, we, on the other hand, from a due regard to the glory of God, should not for a moment, in any way, countenance the idea that creaturely exertions ever has changed, or can change a natural heir of hell, or the child of wrath, into an heir of heaven.

In addition to the pleasing idea that when the daughters of Zion, are of God washed from their filthiness, &c., they will then be composed altogether of saints, or persons made holy. This passage also, I think, gives us to expect that all who are written among the living in Jerusalem, will, in that happy day, be, in a peculiar sense, holy. The expression called holy, being the same with declared or pronounced holy, properly implies that they will be then manifested as holy beyond what they had been before that time. But the question arises, how will they then be holy beyond what the saints now are? Not in reference to their eternal salvation. For in this sense all the children of grace, in every age, are alike sanctified or holy; all alike sanctified by God the Father, or chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. Jude 1 & Eph.1:4. Christ is of God made unto us sanctification. I Cor.1:30. And all alike, “from the beginning chosen unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. II Thes.2:13 & I Pet.1:2. But it is in reference to their lives, and in the sense in which Paul prays God to sanctify the Thessalonian brethren wholly {I Thes.5:23,} and in which he exhorts the brethren at home to “present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable,” &c. Rom.12:1, that we may expect the saints to be more manifestly holy. This is no other than living under the influence of the internal sanctification of the Spirit, or working out, or rather acting out their salvation, which is through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, “with fear and trembling,” Phil.2:12, compared with II Thes.2:12, as this holiness is an acting out of our salvation, and the salvation is a being saved from sin or from all iniquity, it necessarily implies an abstaining from all iniquity, and as the whole world lieth in wickedness, an abstaining from a conformity to the world. On the other hand, as our salvation is not a being delivered, whilst we live in the world, from our natural lives, nor from our relations, connections, infirmities, &c., of this life, this holiness does not imply a withdrawal from the world, nor from the several duties or relations of life.

Again, as this holiness is holiness to the Lord, it will lead us “whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God.” That is, our meat and drink will be received with contentment and thanksgiving, and used for our health and bodily activity; and all our acts will be in the fear and love of God, and in the faithful discharge of the duties of the respective relations, stations and callings in which God has placed us, both in the church and in the world.

But further, holiness to the Lord, under the Mosaic dispensation, implied a strict and exclusive regard to the commands of God in all their religious performance; a conformity to the nations around them, or a borrowing of their rites being strictly forbidden. It can imply no less under the gospel. The Apostle says, {Heb.2:1,} “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip;” and this he says, from the considerations brought to view in the preceding chapter; namely, that God, instead of speaking to us by the prophets, as under the former dispensation, hath spoken to us by his Son, and the superior dignity which the Scriptures ascribe to the Son, over the angels. Hence the inference which he draws in the two verses following the one above quoted. And if the Jews, on even to the close of the Old Testament’s prophecy by Malachi, were directed to remember the law of Moses, the servant of the Lord, with the statutes and judgments which God commanded to him in Horeb, Mal.4:4; will not holiness to the Lord under this vastly superior dispensation, this so great salvation, as the Apostle calls it, lead those on whose hearts it is inscribed, to continue to remember the statutes and judgments and the law of faith, which he has appointed by the infinitely superior personage – not a servant, but his well beloved Son, whom he has given as a leader and commander of his people? And will not the voice sounding in their ears, hear ye him, forbid their looking elsewhere for direction, or going about to devise ways and means for themselves, as though they had no leader? Judge ye. The views which I have here given of the holiness intended in the passage before us, is sustained by the description which Zechariah gives of the state of the church when the man of sin is destroyed, and for entering upon which, the churches are to be prepared, as pointed out in this passage. The description referred to is this, “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD, and the pots in the Lord’s house, shall be like the bowls before the altar; yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah, shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein; and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” Zech.14:20,21. I will notice a few of the expressions. 1st. Upon the bells of the horses, holiness to the Lord. As the horses and their bells belong not to religious, but to secular concerns, this shows that in that day the very trappings of our worldly concerns, will be holiness to the Lord; and this whether it relates to war or peace. 2nd. The pots in the Lord’s house, shall be like the bowls before the altar; yea, every pot in Jerusalem, &c. The bowls of the temple were of gold, pots were some of brass, but mostly of earth; they were evidently an inferior vessel. If we understand those vessels according to the use of the term, in II Tim.2:20,21, to signify persons; then, at that day, there will be no distinction between clergy and laity in the church, no set of men who, on account of their scholastic learning, will set themselves up as superior to their brethren, and as having a right to lord it over God’s heritage. And every member in the church will consider himself according to his gifts and station, alike bound to live to the glory of God. Yea, the watchmen shall see eye to eye, and there shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, &c. None to say, “Ah! Lord God, I cannot speak, for I am a child.” Isa.52:8, 65:20, Jer.1:6. Or if we take these vessels to typify rites or instructions in the gospel church, as perhaps what is said, verse 21, would require, then this passage denotes that every institution, down to the most common ceremony in the church, will be alike sacredly observed according to the command or pattern given in the word. Yea, that nothing will be admitted in Jerusalem, or the church, but what is holiness to the Lord, as being set apart by divine appointment to its special use. “In that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” There shall be no more in the church, those who are doomed to destruction, or under the curse. Of course, no unregenerated professors, much less those who have submitted to the mark of the beast. How different will that state of the church be from what it is now. Now, the purest churches, it is to be feared, have their Canaanites, and have their pots that are not holiness to the Lord, religious customs that have no command or example laid down in the word. But the Lord is now evidently bringing many of them through the fire, and we have reason to believe, is refining them as silver is refined, &c. The process of separating the silver from the dross, it is true, is to us painful, and our unbelief sometimes leaves us to think the fire is too hot, and that it will burn up the silver. But it becomes us to remember that the Lord himself sits as the refiner, tempering the heat with infinite skill. Besides to keep down our impatience it becomes us to keep in view the result; for when the Lord shall have accomplished the purifying of his churches, their prayers will then be in faith, for the Lord will hear them, and He will say they are his people, and they will say the Lord is my God, see Zech.13:8,9.

Have we not reason, my brethren, to rejoice in the fiery trials which are beginning to come upon us, seeing they are appointed to accomplish such a glorious event, and are so necessary on account of our defilements and the pollution of the churches. Woe to the churches which are, or shall be, left without these trials, and to be like Ephraim, a cake not turned. Hosea 7:8.

S.TROTT.
Fairfax Court House, Va., April 4th, 1837.