Brother Beebe: - Having been led recently to speak from Isaiah 58:13,14, I was somewhat impressed, from reflection on the subject, with a sense of the great extent of the gospel standard, of holiness to the Lord; at any rate my judgment was convinced on the subject. As to feeling impressed with its importance, or with the beauty and excellency of walking after the Spirit, and not after the flesh, I do not feel as I would wish. But whatever may be my own, or the feelings of others on the subject, an examination of it, as presented to view in that text, and illustrated in the New Testament, may not be unprofitable to me or my brethren.
The words of the text are these: If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
By the Sabbath here, I think the gospel Sabbath evidently intended, as there are requisitions mentioned concerning it, such as are not named in the fourth command, or by Moses, in reference to the seventh-day Sabbath. Whilst a fresh zeal is now being manifested in enforcing an observance of the Jewish Sabbath in a transposed state from the seventh to the first day of the week, surely we who have a hope of having been delivered from the bondage of the law may well be engaged in inquiring and doing what the Lord requires of us, to honor Him, and that rest which He gives.
I have formerly given through the Signs, my views of the seventh-day sabbath as being typical of that rest which the believer enjoys through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as shown in Hebrews chapter 4. The text now before us is, in my estimation, a confirmation of those views. They were briefly these: 1st. That as Israel was required to keep the seventh day holy, as a rest, in acknowledgment of God's having finished the work of creation in six days, having made all things very good, having given to man and beast for meat that which He had caused the earth spontaneously to produce, thus Himself making ample provision to meet every want His creating power had produced. So Christ also having finished the work of redemption; having brought in everlasting righteousness; made an end of sin, removed the curse, and provided an ample fullness to meet the wants of every sinner, who, under a sense of his guilt and ruin, is drawn to Him for salvation. He, having removed every barrier to this fullness flowing spontaneously to sinners has entered into His rest, having ceased from his own works, as God did from His (Heb.4:10), and gospel faith apprehending this, leads the individual to cease from his works under the law, to rest in Christ. He is further required to keep holy this rest in honor of what Christ has done. As under the law, the Israelite who did any work on the seventh day practically denied God's having made ample provision for the wants of man in the six days creation; so under the gospel, the individual who works for acceptance with God denies Christ's having finished the work of redemption, and is a sabbath breaker.
2nd. That as seven in the figures of types and prophecy was used to prefigure a fullness or a whole, &c., so the observance of the seventh day, seventh year, &c., showed that under the gospel there should be, to the true Israel of God, not merely a rest of one day in seven, and one year in seven from the toils of the law, but a complete and continued rest from all its toils and burdens. And as the seventh day rest was to be holy to the Lord, so the believer in Christ is to believe all his time and himself holy to the Lord, and not to be satisfied with keeping one day in seven holy. Or as the Apostle teaches, they are to consider themselves not their own, that they are bought with a price, and that they should glorify God in their bodies and in their spirits which are His I Cor. 6:19,20. But the same law which required the Israelites to rest the seventh day from all their work, also required them to labor six days. The same law, therefore, which was designed to bear testimony to God's having finished the work of creation, and made all good, all subserving the wants of man, and anticipating them, was also a standing witness of the curse that was upon the ground on account of man's sin, whereby man, instead of finding it continuing to bring forth spontaneously for his wants, was doomed to eat his bread in the sweat of his face; thus showing also the curse of the law that was upon man, so that by it he was debarred from attaining to the tree of life, and eating and living forever. Not so under the gospel; Christ having become the end of the law for righteousness, and having taken the curse out of the way, the believer has but to eat His flesh and drink His blood which He giveth, and he hath eternal life. Hence as life and salvation flow spontaneously to the believer through Christ Jesus, he has no occasion to sweat and toil for a righteousness of his own to save him from the curse of the law, but may devote himself and all his time to glorifying God, that whether he eat or drink, or whatever he does, he may do all to the glory of God I Cor. 10:31. Do those great Doctors of the Lord's-day conventions, who are so zealous for a legal sabbath, know anything of this spiritual rest which remains unto the people of God from all the demands of the law?
After this lengthy preface, I will proceed with as much brevity as I can to notice the several parts of the text. It divides itself into two general heads: First; What God requires of His people, that they may honor Him in a due observance of the gospel Sabbath. Secondly; Certain promised blessings, consequent upon the right observance of those requisitions.
1st. The requisitions: If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day. Our turning away our foot from it, as showed by the connection, does not mean a turning away from it in not observing it; but we are to turn away our foot from it, in that we are not to trample upon it as something common, or which may be thrown aside, for our own works or exercises. We are also to turn away our foot from it, in not doing our own pleasure on His holy day. The gospel dispensation is brought to view as one day. It is the day which the Lord hath made Psalm 118:24. It is the day made by His resurrection, and which He rules, as He made the sun to rule by day in natural time. It is holy, in that it is the period devoted to the exercise of the power of the exalted Jesus over all flesh, that He may give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given Him. It is holy to the triumphs of the cross, and to the treading down of His enemies. It is holy as the day allotted to the church of Christ, from age to age, to bear witness to the truth of the gospel testimony, to the power of Jesus to save ruined sinners, to the nature of His salvation as a salvation from sin, and to show her love and subjection to Him as her Lord. As such should believers esteem it. To this end are all the trials and deliverances of the saints, all their joys and sorrows, their seasons of light and of darkness, of temptations and persecutions, made by grace subservient. Not doing their own pleasure. The term pleasure here, according to the original, signifies, not amusement, but inclination, will or desire. The import of this passage, therefore, is that as the gospel day is holy to the power and reign of the Lord Jesus, those who profess to be of the Israel of God are not to consult their own inclination, not lean to their own understanding, nor depend on their own strength in things pertaining to His kingdom, but to be in entire submission to His revealed will, and dependent on His arm to save. Thus, for instance, those who claim liberty to consult their own inclination instead of the Scriptures, whether to contribute their money or otherwise support the popular inventions for moralizing or evangelizing the world, are doing their own pleasure on the Lord's holy day, are breaking His Sabbath. So those who consult their own inclination to avoid reproach, by not contending for the faith and order of the gospel, by not bearing faithful testimony against the subversions of the gospel, by countenancing those who do subvert it in its doctrine or order, by meeting and associating with them in worship and other things pertaining to religion, &c., are more doing their own pleasure than honoring the Lord and His truth: they are not regarding the holiness of the day. Again; when preachers consult their own convenience, ease or worldly interest, in their manner of preaching, or in attending to their appointments, or to occupying the field the Lord in His providence has directed them to; or when private members consult their convenience, ease, or worldly business in reference to assembling with the church, and govern their contributions for the support of the gospel and other purposes, not according as the Lord has prospered them, but according as they think they can spare from their plans for enlarging their funds or business, or farms, or from furnishing themselves and family with every desired extravagancy, such are doing their own pleasure, and not acting under a sense of not being their own, but the Lord's. So also when we intemperately indulge in any of our appetites and passions, or give way to a conformity to the world, we are doing our own pleasure, and are not being separate to the Lord. Indeed, there is at this day too much of a propensity among christians to follow their own inclinations, to do our own pleasure on the Lord's holy day.
2nd. And call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord honourable. Call that is manifest that it is their delight, their happiness, to trust in the Lord Jesus alone, and to give Him the glory of their salvation; to sit at His feet and wait to be led and taught of Him, and to have His word as authority for what they believe and do. If I know anything of a christian's experience, there is a principle within him which, how much soever nature may oppose, leads him to desire not to do his own pleasure, nor to have his own way, and, of course, which causes him to be truly happy, as he can feel that he has laid his own wisdom and all that is of himself in the dust, and is receiving what the Spirit makes known to him, and as he makes it known, as truth; and that he is leaning alone on the Lord for his wisdom, his guidance, his strength and keeping, as well as for his final salvation. And the holy of the Lord honourable: The salvation by Christ Jesus, and His religion throughout, is a revelation from God, and is therefore as such wholly separate from all human wisdom and creaturely doings, and hence is truly the holy of the Lord. If every human mixture, made with the holy appointments of God in the tabernacle service, received a just recompense of reward, surely the mixtures which are made under the light of the gospel, with the holy of the Lord, will receive an awful retribution. When we, in preference to the applause bestowed upon those who conform to the world and its notions of religion, choose to meet the reproaches attendant upon a strict conformity to the revealed truth and will of God, and to be marked as companions of the Lord's afflicted and despised people, and as separate from the popular religious combinations, we practically call the holy of the Lord honourable. And when we, with patience and meekness bear the reproach and contempt thus cast upon us, we show that we not only call, but we esteem the holy of the Lord honourable.
3rd. And shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. We honor the Lord by showing an implicit confidence in Him, in His promises and declarations, and by strict obedience to His word, and not otherwise. We in many cases would obey the Lord, but we do it in our own way. Moses, in obedience to the Lord, gathered the congregation together at the rock, and took the rod to smite it, but he did his own way in the thing, finding his own pleasure. He spoke unadvisedly with his lips, and did not sanctify the Lord before the people. Numbers 20:12 & Psalm 106:33. So we may be zealous to bear our testimony against error, but instead of in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves we may suffer our zeal to lead us to speak unadvisedly, and to speak language which has the appearance of bringing railing accusations against those who hold the error. We may be obedient to preach the word; but instead of being only intent to honor the Lord by a plain declaration of His word and manifestation of His truth, we may do our own ways. We too often, instead of losing sight of ourselves in a view of the glory of the Lord, like to attract a little attention to ourselves; we would be thought something; we would be noticed either as bold or as mild, as good speakers, or as oddities, as sons of thunder, or as sons of consolation, &c. Consequently we find much to lament in our services, as having too much of self in them. So in all the relations which we sustain as disciples, in our submission to ordinances, in attending to church discipline, to keeping up an intercourse and correspondence with brethren, &c., there is a doing these things so as to find our own pleasure and do our own ways, instead of doing just what the Lord has commanded, and as He has directed. We are too apt to think that we may consult our own notions and feelings in many things pertaining to religion. Some may be too fond of going before as leaders; but a great many more keep back from a faithful discharge of duty in various ways, from fear of incurring some special responsibility or blame. Again, in our intercourse with the world, in our transactions of business, and even in our choosing our locations and our course of pursuit, we ought no less to act under a sense that we are not our own, that we are members of the one body of Christ; and therefore at no more liberty to do our own ways, and find our own pleasure; that is, regardless of the fellowship of our brethren, of our usefulness in the cause of Christ, and of the honor of His cause, than in things more immediately religious.
Not speaking thine own words. Many professors are very fond of speaking their own words, or of giving their own imaginary construction to the words of Scripture, instead of seeking the plain meaning of the Holy Spirit therein. This is certainly not honoring the Lord, but our own judgments. We are frequently too little impressed with a sense of the holiness of the revelation which the Holy Ghost has given, and hence too often take the liberty of displaying our ingenuity in giving to the words of Scripture a turn to suit our sentiments; as do lawyers their law books in their pleadings. This is not what the Apostles did. Paul says, "Not handling the word of God deceitfully." Again, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" II Cor. 4:2; I Cor. 2:13. We are not to understand by the Apostle's expressions here, the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, that the Holy Ghost taught the Apostles any different language from what is common among men. The words used in the Scriptures have the same grammatical construction and the same literal meaning as when used in reference to natural things. But when the Holy Ghost revealed to them a spiritual truth, they declared it in plain, unequivocal language; not in words representing it as human wisdom would apprehend it, but in words conveying the very idea taught by the Holy Spirit: comparing spiritual things with spiritual; comparing them with Christ and His salvation, not with the Sinai covenant, nor with philosophy, or husbandry, &c. The not speaking our own words has also no doubt a reference to the same idea taught in Zeph. 3:9, "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." There is, no doubt, an allusion here to the language taught Adam in the garden when he gave names to every beast of the field, and every foul of the air, &c. Those names given being descriptive of some peculiar characteristic of each beast and fowl. Hence the words taught him were not like the words of modern languages in their refinements, mere signs of our ideas, but they were his ideas themselves, embodied in expressions. By the expression, to call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent, there seems also a reference in that text to the fact that the whole earth was of one language and one speech until God confounded the language of the people for their presumption in building the tower of Babel. Throughout the former dispensation, the service consisting in outward forms, much of their fear towards the Lord was taught by the precepts of men; they were taught, from father to son, a form of expressions in their worship, which they used without regard to the feelings of their hearts. Such also is the case with much of the language used in religious services at this day; the words spoken are not even signs of their ideas. But grace teaches under the gospel that only the language of the heart, the feelings thereof embodied in suitable expressions, is acceptable to God, and the child of grace, so far as acting from grace, is led to use this language of his heart in all his intercourse with God and men. Hence there is a oneness of language among the children of God in speaking of what they know of religion by experience; for whatever diversity there may be among them in their manners of expressing themselves, whether they speak in broken or distinct words, when one hears another declare his experience, he at once recognizes it as the language of his own heart; they understand one another. So when a preacher preaches the preaching which God has bidden him, the believer, from the correspondence which he finds in his own heart with the words spoken, is prepared to say amen. So grace would lead the believer also in his more general intercourse with men, uniformly so to speak the unequivocal language of his heart, that with all who knew him, his yea would stand for yea, and his nay for nay. So in the case under consideration that we are not to speak our own words. Whenever we are disposed, plainly and unequivocally, to declare the real sentiments and feelings of our hearts, we have no need to hunt round for words, expressions will spontaneously flow out; our words may be few and not so elegant as we might have found by studying, but they will be expressive of our feelings, and so understood. But when we want to equivocate, to deceive, or hide our feelings or sentiments, we have to guard against letting the language of our hearts come out, and to hunt for other words to speak. This is what is forbidden in this clause relative to the gospel Sabbath, no labored expressions to be used in our approach to God, but the spontaneous language of our hearts. And in speaking in His name publicly or privately, we are to speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. But in speaking the language of our hearts, we should be careful that it is the language of the renewed heart. The language of the old heart, which is corrupt, may be full of bitterness, strife, and every vile thing.
I now come to the second branch of the subject contained in Isaiah 58:13 & 14, namely: The blessings promised as consequent upon a right observance of the Gospel Sabbath, as declared in the 14th verse: "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Taking this subject in the connection, the if of the preceding verse with the declaration of this, and it might very readily be taken for a conditional promise, the same as the legal promises made to national Israel, which ran thus: I will if thou wilt, contrary to the order of the new covenant, which is I will, and they shall. God has evidently made wisely and graciously the present enjoyments of the comforts of religion intimately to depend on the believer's correct gospel walk; and so of the prosperous state of the church. But to avoid mistake here, we must know what is a correct gospel walk. It is very far from a self-confident going forward in religious, or moral duties, as though we would show our zeal for the Lord, like Jehu, or like Peter when he said, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. It is described in the Scriptures thus; "What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" Micah 6:8. It is; To work out our salvation (that is, from the daily snares, temptations, corruptions, and errors, with which we are beset), with fear and trembling, from a sense of our weakness, but trusting in the Lord to work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure Phil.2:12,13. It is; To be poor and of a contrite spirit, and to tremble at God's word Isa.66:2. Hence it is frequently the case that while the believer is ashamed and debased in spirit on account of his past improper walk, he receives some precious promise applied to his case. But I was going to remark that it is quite a difficult part in the gospel ministry to represent the comforts of religion as thus dependent on a proper walk without representing them as conditional, and thus sowing the vineyard with divers seeds; and ploughing with an ox and ass together Deut. 22:9,10. But we should ever bear in mind the declaration of the Apostle that the Son of God, as preached of him, was not yea and nay, and that "All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us" II Cor. 1:19,20. The subject before us having a special reference as before showed to be the gospel rest, and gospel day, must be understood as harmonizing with this Apostolic declaration. Therefore, whilst we have no right to expect or to represent that the church collectively will be seen riding upon the high places of the earth, whilst she does not rightly honor the Lord and His Sabbath, but finds her own pleasure, and does her own ways; nor that individual churches will be in a truly flourishing and exalted state, enjoying the manifestation of the Spirit's presence among them, whilst the members thereof are consulting more their own worldly interests and comforts than honoring of the Lord and His truth, and a doing of His ways. Whilst they are going after a covetousness instead of manifesting a fellowship for the gospel, by contributing freely for its support, as the Lord has prospered them, and for the support of them that preach it, and by a regular attendance upon it, and a steadfast adherence to it, how can they expect it to be blessed to them for their increase, and for their being built up in the truth and consolations thereof? Neither that we as individual christians or as preachers, can expect to find our evidences bright, or the promises of God our support, whilst we are indulging in our corruptions, are going after the world, neglecting our privileges, and an attendance upon our religious exercises, or performing them as a lifeless task. And whilst we as preachers ought, perhaps more than we have done, to enforce upon the churches and the brethren the importance of honoring the Lord, and His holy day, by close observance of all that He has enjoined upon His people, and as individual members should exhort one another to love and good works, and to hold out to one another the encouragements which the word gives to a faithful discharge of duty; yet we have no right to tell the churches and the saints, neither can we, if led by the Spirit, that the increase of the churches, the prosperity and triumph of Zion, the steadfastness of the saints or their growth in grace, or any other blessings promised are subject to their exertions, or neglect; that by their own efforts they can forward the promises of God, or by their neglect they can retard them. We can, if left to ourselves, bring darkness upon our own souls, and disorder into the church; but the Lord alone can restore life and order to the churches, and comfort to our souls; and this He will do at His own pleasure, and prepare our hearts to look to Him for it. The blessing must come from Him; the blame is ours. So far from our being able, from any efforts of ours, to raise the churches from their present low and trodden down estate, it is more than probable that were it the Lord's pleasure now to revive His work in His churches, and the graces of His Spirit in the saints, their trials and their persecutions would in the same proportion be increased. But in this case, the saints would be better prepared to bear those trials with christian meekness and patience, and thus more to honor the Lord under them. And indeed if we felt right, I think we should feel that if we could but honor the Lord we should have but little choice, whether it was on the mount or in the fire.
Should it be asked, then, What are we to do with the if in this passage? I answer, the text is a prophetic promise concerning Zion, and looks forward to the period when the church shall have been delivered from all those corruptions which have crept into her through the influence of anti-christ, marring her beauty and her peace, and bringing coldness upon her. The prophesy embraces in it this purging of the churches, and a bringing them back to an entire subjection to the gospel, and an entire resting in Christ, as well as the exaltation of Zion. And the if teaches that whilst the churches and saints are found trampling upon the Lord's Sabbath, finding their own pleasure, and doing their own ways, they may not expect to witness that exalted state of the church herein promised. On the other hand, it teaches that when the churches shall be restored to the purity of gospel doctrine and practice, and as we see them thus restored, we may confidently look for the downfall of the man of sin, the breaking to pieces, like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, the four great monarchies of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, in their present subdivisions and intermixtures of iron and clay; and for the church and gospel of Christ to fill the whole earth. The blessings promised in the prophecy are, 1st. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord. The experience of the children of God, if I am not mistaken, shows that we cannot delight ourselves in the Lord and in the world both at the same time, that if our delight is in the world and the things of the world, though we may have some remembrance of the Lord's excellency, and of His love and mercy to our souls, some little reviving at times under preaching, &c., of our remembrance of Him, and some momentary seasons in which we feel our hearts drawn off from the world to delight in Him, yet the main current of our desire will be after the world, in one shape or another; even our prayers will show the object of our delight. On the other hand, when our delight is in the Lord, as when we were first brought into gospel liberty, and perhaps at some other special moments, the world, with all its concerns, appears as vanity itself; we can then cheerfully let them all go, having the Lord for our portion, it is enough. So frequently with the saints when about to depart; their delight is so in the Lord, that their having to leave the world is to them no loss, they anticipate the event as joyful. I will not say that all our delight in the world is wrong; much of it is sinful, vile, and, loathsome; but I have thought that, in our present state, a certain portion of it is necessary, to enable us to fill, with fidelity, our several stations and relations in the world. But it is all earthy, and therefore it brings forth its thorns and its thistles to us. On the other hand, the saint's delight in the Lord is all heavenly, all very good, nothing in it to vex or annoy, or to cause the sweat of the face. A happy period of the church will that be when this promise shall be realized by her, when the saints shall so delight themselves in the Lord that with David they can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want;" and with the spouse, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." When they can so realize the Lord's presence with them as to make the world and all its concerns sit easy about them, and to view the world as a platform, provided of their Father's goodness, for them to stand on till the door is opened for their entrance into their house not made with hands; a stage on which, not to represent the human passions, but to display their love to Jesus, and bear their witness to His power to save, and to His grace and faithfulness to sustain.
2nd. And I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth. Solomon says, "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low places. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth" Ecc. 10:5-7. This evil has been for ages fully manifested in most countries, and is beginning to be plainly seen in this. The rich in faith, and the princes of the kingdom, are being put down, whilst religious folly and Moses' servants are being exalted to dignity. But the tables will, by and by, be turned. The Lord will yet appear for the destruction of the man of sin, and for vindicating the cause of His people. His church will be seen riding (a mark of dignity), and riding upon the high places of the earth, treading them under foot. By the high places, we may understand both the high places of religious establishments, and the high places of worldly governments and honor; answering to the ancient high places in which they worshipped, and to the high places in which is spiritual wickedness I Kings 11:7,8; Eph. 6:12. The church will be exalted above these, ride upon them, be exalted above the hills. John had a vision of the church as thus triumphing over anti-christ and the kings of the earth Rev.19:1l-21.
3rd. And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father. Jacob is here represented as a father of the gospel church, or spiritual Israel. He was such, in fact, as he was one of the fathers from whom Christ (concerning the flesh) came. Hence God promised unto him that, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" Gen.28:14. Secondly, Jacob was the representative father of the gospel church or spiritual Israel, in that he was a special example of God's electing love, that as he was made to inherit the blessings of Israel before his elder brother Esau, by the purpose of God according to election, so the spiritual Israel was preferred before the elder brother, national Israel, to the blessings of the Messiah. And so of the saints severally, being preferred according to their being chosen in Christ, and not according to their creation in Adam, and the elder or first manifested. Thirdly, Jacob was such to the gospel church in being made a special object of God's overruling providence and care, as an example for the encouragement of the saints in all after ages to commit their ways unto the Lord, and to wait patiently for Him; so that God in His promises unto Christ and to His church repeatedly declares Himself as the God of Jacob. See among other texts, Psal. 20:1 & 46:7, 11. This special providence was exemplified, first: In causing the law of nature in a special manner to favor Jacob, as in the increase of his cattle Gen. 30:31-43 & 31:7-13. Secondly, In providing before hand for Jacob's preservation and sustenance, when God's judgment was upon the land in the seven years famine, and in overruling the wicked intent of his sons, for the accomplishment of this object, as well as that of Potiphar's wife Gen.45:4-1 1. Thirdly, In causing even his family afflictions to work for his good. Fourthly, In restraining the wrath of men against him, so that they should not hurt him; as in the case of Laban, Gen.3 1:24, 42; in the case of the Shemites, Gen.35:5; and of Esau. Fifthly, In God's imparting to him from time to time special manifestations of the angels of God as God's host, thus encouraging him to seek a meeting with Esau Gen.32:1-5.
Surely in this history of God's dealings with Jacob, the saints may see exemplified how "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Whilst others with their Canaanitish and Ishmaelitish wives may dwell at ease in the fat of the land, those who are called of God, in all their wanderings and pilgrimages, are better provided for in having the God of Jacob for their help. By the heritage of Jacob with which the church and saints of God are to be fed we may understand, both that providential care which God exercised towards Jacob as above exemplified, and that blessing which he inherited from his father Isaac, as preferred before Esau, namely: "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and the plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee" Gen. 27:28,29. Moses, describing the land of Canaan, says - "It is not as the land of Egypt from whence ye came out, where thou sowest thy seed and wateredst it with thy foot, like a garden of herbs," &c. Deut. 11:10. He refers here to the case of Egypt where they have no rain, that they have to dig pits, &c., in which water may remain from the annual overflowing of the Nile; with this they watered their seeds, raising it by buckets frequently worked by treadwheels. But the blessing of Jacob was the dew of heaven which descends without the labor of man, and distils, softly moistening and softening the earth, not washing and hardening the ground as do beating rains. Again: Moses says in his song (Deut.32:2), "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herbs, &c." There is much of watering the seed planted, with the children of God; but a full supply to the churches, and to the saints individually, of the bread and consolation of the gospel. So of the other branches of this heritage. People and nations, instead of oppressing and persecuting the church, as they have done from the dawn of the gospel day to this hour, will serve her and bow down to her. And her mother's sons, those leaders who, departing from the faith of the gospel and from the church in her order, have introduced systems of their own, and drawn away disciples after them. These, instead of glorying over the church as they now do, boasting of their popularity, will be humbled and brought down, and their systems given to the moles and to the bats when anti-christ goes down. These false teachers are not Christ's seed, but only the sons of the church; as they were brought into a profession of faith in the church, and then went out from it, because not of it. See Acts 20:30. Cursed be every one that curs eth thee; and blessed be he that blesseth thee. All who have received the mark of the beast, and therefore united with that interest in opposing and reproaching the gospel and gospel church, are under the curse that is denounced against such, and shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, &c. Rev. 14:9,10. Whilst he that blessed the true church, acknowledging her as the church of Christ, and her doctrine as the doctrine of Christ, and being thus kept from worshipping the beast, will be kept also from the judgment that awaits it, and afterwards be brought to experience the blessings of the gospel, because his name is written in the book of life of the Lomb slain from the foundation of the world. See Rev. 13:8. The declaration before us is that the Lord will feed the church with the heritage of Jacob, &c. This is different from God's dealing with national Israel in giving them the land in possession, and which they again lost. Feeding implies administering from time to time to the present want, as the manna was distilled daily upon the camp of Israel. The church and saints are not to be, neither have they ever been, as is the Arminian in his estimation, like a child that can run to the cup-board and help himself as he pleases, and therefore thanks no one for it; but they are like the infant which is I constantly dependent on its nurse to be fed, and therefore shows sense of its dependence by crying. The Lord, like a faithful nurse, will feed His people with this rich heritage, administering to them as their case may require, and keeping them sensible of their dependence.
Fourthly, The certainty of these promised blessings: For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Even Balaam testified that, "God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken and shall He not make it good?" Num. 23:19. Yes, as He has spoken, so He will make it good; and that He may thus bless, He will bring the church properly to reverence His Sabbath, that is, the gospel and its order, and that rest which it inculcates and gives. I have represented this passage as prophecy, as having a reference still future, whilst it teaches that holiness to the Lord, which the gospel revelation has in all ages inculcated, and because it is so inculcated, I believe the church must yet reflect it. If you and I, brother Beebe, now differ on this point, it is because the church is not yet brought to that full unity which the gospel inculcates, and we must wait the Lord's time. And in His time I think He will show He has spoken nothing in vain. Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? Yours with christian regards,
Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia,
Feb .8, 1844.
From: SIGNS of the TIMES. Vol.12 (1844)
Select Works of Elder Samuel Trott