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would have a part in the new covenant, we must consent to be directly “taught of God.” And it was to this very communion that Jesus invited men, when he said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” For the revelation of the Father was the learning which He invited them to receive, according to the word which He had said just before, “no man knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." And now here was the Son, the revealer of the Father, inviting men to receive his revelation, that they also might become sons.
It was in this direct personal knowledge and communion with the Father that He had rest and liberty, for he set Jehovah alway before him, and he called men to participate in the same rest and liberty, by participating in the same direct personal communion, that is, by meeting God in the spiritual seed of the word, which He had sown in their own hearts.
It is in this point, that the chief difference lies between the dispensation of Moses and the dispensation of Christ. And as the difference lies in this reality, and not in a mere name or knowledge, it is very possible for a man to be living in the principle which characterized the dispensation of Moses, whilst he is using the language of Christianity. For if he is receiving the words of Christ, without personally and directly meeting God in them for himself, he is turning Christ into Moses, that is, he is making the same use of Christ, that the Israelites made of Moses; and whilst he thinks that he is living under the new covenant, he is in reality living under the old.
The Israelites interposed Moses between themselves and God, and thus they retained the life of the flesh, which could not stand His
presence; "for the grass withereth when the Spirit of the Lord breatheth upon it."
” This is the resource of the old Adam, ever since the fall; he seeks to hide himself amidst the trees of the garden, that he may retain his life. And let us observe that it was not through an irreligion that they escaped from God, it was through a religion, and a divinely-appointed religion, even as Adam hid himself amidst the trees of God's own planting. And thus they came into this condition without offending their consciences, for although they had no direct
intercourse with God, they had to do with ordinances of his own appointment.
There was a great delusion in this, for thus they came to have a religion for their God, instead of having God for their religion. God was not their confidence; their religion was their confidence. And thus that reli- . gion which God had given them, in order that in it they might meet with himself, and learn what true worship was, they used for an entirely opposite purpose, namely, as a refuge from His presence, and yet as a ground of confidence towards Him, which kept them easy, even when their hearts were going after all manner of idols. They said not, where is the Lord, but they said, “ the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these." Jer. viii. 4. their snare, and it is our snare, under different names, for it is the snare of the flesh that refuseth to meet God, lest it die.
When a man comes really in spirit into the presence of God, he cannot possibly have confidence before him, unless he is consciously surrendering himself to His will. He cannot look to God, the searcher of hearts, in peace, whilst he is consciously cherishing any thing in his heart which he knows to be dis
pleasing to God. This, then, is the great triumph of our subtle enemy—to take an ordinance or a doctrine which is really, or is believed to be, of God's own appointment, and to give it to a man, so that he may carry it with him when he is out of God's presence, and may have confidence towards God on account of it, although his heart is not consciously right with God. We must guard against this snare, as we value eternal life. No doctrine is true, apart from the presence of God; when it is separated from Himself it loses its truth and life and saving power, and becomes an instrument of evil-like the serpent of brass in the days of king Hezekiah. It was by this abuse of them, that the forms and doctrines of the Jewish worship, though of divine appointment, became snares to the souls of the people, and the most hateful of all abominations in the sight of God, as is testified through the whole Scripture. Thus, in Isa. i. 13, it is written, “ Bring no more vain oblations, incense is an abomination to me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting;" and much more to the same purpose. Reader, Do you not believe, that the doc
trines of Christianity are treated in this way as well as the ordinances of the Jewish law? Do you not believe that the finished work of Christ, is often in this way separated from God, and carried about, as a peace to the conscience and a ground of confidence, whilst the man who is thus using it, is not meeting God directly, nor trusting in God directly. If you have ever realized the nearness of death, have you not felt that you were seeking peace, rather by grasping at particular doctrines, than by leaning on the tried love and faithfulness of God? For example, Have you never felt that the doctrine of justification by faith has at such times
given you an indistinct sort of religious confidence, whilst yet you were very far from actually and consciously meeting with God in the doctrine, or entering into his mind, as revealed in it; and whilst, therefore, you were very far from having a real confidence in God Himself? When a man's belief of a doctrine rests merely on his belief that it is taught in the Bible, and is not confirmed by his seeing and feeling its oneness with the goodness and righteousness of God, revealed in his own conscience, it certainly is not that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit ;