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Observer, Feb. 1, '76.
A LESSON FROM "SEED."*
"Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness."2 Cor. ix. 10.
HIS verse occurs in a very remarkable chapter remarkable as putting a stamp of eternal worth on money. At first sight it seems strange that God should set such value upon that which is elsewhere called "filthy lucre;" but as we look into the passage and its contents we see that it concerns principally the giving of money for the service of God, and learn from it how He notices the purpose of heart which actuates every gift.
We often enlarge upon the eighth verse, and stop there, as if it stood alone, instead of observing that a parenthesis interrupts the thread of thought, which is again taken up and carried on in verse 11, "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work-being enriched in everything to all bountifulness," etc. This is the fruit expected from the grace given.
In the parenthesis we are carried back to two Old Testament Scriptures. There is a quotation from Psalm cxii., an allusion to Isaiah Îv. The leading idea in the Psalmist's words is the perment results in the lives of the righteous, He hath dispersed abroad, He hath given to the poor, His righteousness endureth for ever." Dispersing suggests the idea of stewardship— everything is given by God to be scattered, and the scattering yields fruit for eternity. The Apostle uses this to illustrate the truth he is teaching in reference to the "all grace," and the "all sufficiency" being intended to issue in "all good works." He sees in the example of the righteous man, sketched by the Spirit of God in that Psalm, a living comment upon what he is saying; and, therefore, quotes it thus, "As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad," etc.
Then, probably, with Isaiah lv. on his mind, which appears to be alluded to in verse 10, the Apostle looks at his Corinthian converts, and, whilst rejoicing over them and trying to stir them up by the example of those in Macedonia, he describes the fruits of grace, and especially Christian liberality, as a wonderful seed-sowing, and turns it into a prayer on their behalf"Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness." He knows that they could sow no seed till they had themselves fed upon the corn, and become abundantly nourished by it,
• By MES. PENNEFATHER, at a Morning Prayer Meeting.
and he knows, too, how freely God is willing to give them a full supply, and how He would, through His own bountiful provision, make them fruitful. So his prayer includes all the seed to the sower, the bread to the eater, the fruits to the reaper. He asks much, because he realizes that he has to do with "the God of all grace."
And it is the same now. Just according to your grasp, dear friends, of the ability of God will be your requests in prayer. There is no meaning in much that is called prayer, because this is lacking. We cannot imagine that God can take pleasure in the prayer that is a mere performance of duty, when no hand of faith is stretched out to touch the Living One. Lay hold upon God's almightiness and His covenant grace in Jesus, and then all things are within the range of petition, for "all things are possible to him that believeth."
But we must leave the wider subject at present to consider more closely the seed here spoken of. Seed has various significations in Scripture. It is used to illustrate the Word of God-the life
long service of a Christian-his liberality; used also in the sense of posterity, and of the human body sown for the Resurrection. There are two points inseparable from the idea of seed
1. IT HAS WITHIN ITSELF THE GERM OF LIFE. 2. IT BEARS FRUIT AT SOME FUTURE PERIOD. The two thoughts may be expressed in two words-vitality and waiting. The life is there, but its development is yet to come.
The wonderful creative power of God has wrapped up in the smallest seed a germ of wondrous vitality. Seed is produced by a process which has gone on in a flower. The pollen or farina of the plant has been communicated to the stigma, and a germinating principle is thus set at work to produce a seed, which, when placed in favourable circumstances beneath the rain and sunshine of heaven, will spring forth and grow up into a plant similar to that from which it was produced. There could not be a true seed if fructification had not taken place.
I want you to dwell upon this lesson of seed in those two points-its vitality and its perpetuity. Paul here brings it to bear specially upon the subject of money; and, as we look at it, we may ask, How can money be invested with vitality? Take, for example, a sovereign. We use it for ourselves, or give it to others, without any thought of God. There may be no particular harm in its disposal; it may go for something useful, or pleasant, or kind, but then there is an end of it: it only concerns this present life, and when it is spent it is done with. That sovereign is not "seed."
Take it as God's gift; look up to Him and
ask how you may use it for His glory, and whether it then goes for what seems a secular thing or for the Gospel, it matters not; it is vitalized, and the coin becomes seed. You may
not be able to trace it now-it may be quite lost to sight, and on earth you may never see the fruit, it may only be manifested to you in the sunshine of glory and beneath the dew of God's presence-but sooner or later the harvest is sure.
I have often thought, in looking round the walls of a seedsman's shop, closely packed with papers of seeds, how instinct they are with life waiting to be manifested. However insignificant to the eye, each tiny grain contains within itself a living germ. It needs, it is true, the moisture of rain and the warmth of the sun to act upon it before that life can be energized; but there it is, and there it will remain for days, and weeks, and years, ready to spring forth when cast into the ground. And the lesson it teaches may be carried beyond money, which is only one illustration of it. Some who have no silver or gold may have the skill of their hands, others have intellectual power or educational advantages-all of it may become seed. Our words, our works, if vitalized, will have a blessed influence for eternity; whereas if they are merely our own words, our own works, they must perish.
Sometimes there is much which looks like success in sowing and much which looks like failure, and both may be but in outward semblance. appearances so often deceive. The seed that springs up quickly may be sown in stony places, and have no root in itself, whilst that which is not yet seen may be planted deep down in the ground, and, though the waiting time may be long, the life will be developed and the joy of harvest will come at last.
Nor must it be forgotten that a great deal of rubbish may be sown that looks like "seed." For instance, some one says, "I am anxious to be usefully employed," without any thought of God in the matter. Another sees others at work and does not wish to be outstripped. Another says, "I have been taught good habits, and education has given me many powers and qualifications, and I want to exercise them." Service that may have much apparent value often results from motives such as these, but there is no germ of life in it.
On the other hand, one who seems to be a very unsuccessful worker, having no special gift, brings all to God, and just says, "Master, sanctify it-give me something to do; I don't care what it is as long as it is for Thee;" and seed is sown, though the hand that scatters it is feeble-seed which shall spring up in due time. A dear invalid, perhaps poor in this world, but
Observer, Feb. 1, '76.
rich in faith, has earned a sixpence, and offers it to the Lord, and there is more vitality in that sixpence than in a gift of £20 given out of superfluity just because asked for.
Some, again, go to work in the faith of another, and may, I believe, help in sowing precious seed without any participation in the fruit. An individual has faith for a work, and says, 66 I cannot do it all myself, but I want it done for the glory of my Master." Another, without the same faith, who takes it up, may not at last receive the fruit, even though it should prosper; that may be reserved for the one whose faith entrusted it to the other to be carried out.
Looking closely at the words, we again notice the connected petitions. "Now He that ministereth seed to the sower, minister bread for your food." We have already said this is the first need. No one will ever sow seed who has not eaten corn. We must feed on the Bread of Life before our own lives can be productive. He who is the great Sower ministers this bread to His disciples, and the bread which He gives is His flesh-Himself-His own life. Then follows the result, "And multiply your seed sown multiply in the sense of abundance and of variety. Seed-sowing should be with us the object of every day, and how much is to be sown, or has been sown, our constant inquiry. Then the varieties of seed should make us very careful how we pass judgment upon each other. Some very tiny seeds, we know, develop into more fruitful and beautiful growth than larger ones, and God has a place for all in His garden. Some are sown in joy, and some in tears, but often the precious seed sown by one who goes forth weeping yields the most abundant sheaves. How frequently do we find that times of deepest trial have been the harbingers of greatest joy and blessing? Last of all comes the crowning thought thought" And increase the fruits of your righteousness." It is very good of the Lord to let us see some fruit even now in our work; but in comparison to what it will be, all we gather now is as the few violets we may glean in autumn contrasted with the abundant bloom of spring.
THE CHURCH-PLANTING AND
DURING the Saviour's sojourn on earth, as already noted, the Church was spoken of prospectively. Immediately after the Pentecost following His ascension the fact of its existence was apparent, and "the Lord added daily the saved to the Church." Daniel's seventy weeks also, with the foretold death of the Messiah, the
Observer, Feb. 1, '76.
confirmation of the covenant with many for one week, and His termination of the sacrifice and oblation in the middle of the week, all point to a period exactly met by taking that Pentecost as the beginning of the New Dispensation, of the Era of the New Covenant, and of the Church.
THE PASSOVER was so called, because Jehovah passed over, or spared the children of Israel (upon whose houses was the blood of the lamb), when His destroying angel smote down the firstborn of Egypt.
The word is used to denote-1. The Puschal Lamb. 2. The Paschal Supper. 3. The Festival of Seven Days; from the beginning of the 15th to the close of the 21st of the month of Nisan.
The head of the family took from the flock a lamb or kid, to be kept apart from the 10th till the 14th day, when it was killed, between the two evenings, usually about three in the afternoon. On the same day, between the two evenings, the feast began, and continued into the next day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread ordinarily lasted seven days, beginning on the 15th.
THE FEAST OF PENTECOST, was called the Feast of Weeks, because celebrated seven weeks after the Paschal Sabbath-the Feast of Harvest, and also the Day of First Fruits, as then the first fruits of the harvest were offered to the Lord.
The word Pentecost, signifying fifty, is applied to this festival on account of its observance on the fiftieth day from the Passover; counting from the first day of unleavened bread. this day also was commemorated the giving of the Law from Mount Sinai. The Jewish Pentecost, then, stood associated with the organization of the Children of Israel into a nation, when Jehovah made with them the covenant, now called old; which covenant they violated by making a golden calf, even while Moses was yet with God on the Mount: on which account the sword was turned upon them, and there fell in one day "about three thousand men." (Exod. xxxii. 28.)
"CHRIST, OUR PASSOVER, IS SACRIFICED FOR US."
1. The Lamb sacrificed at the Passover was without blemish. Christ is called "The Lamb of God" (John i. 29); without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter i. 19.) 2. The Paschal Lamb was taken from the flock. THE WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us (John i. 14); made like unto his brethren. (Heb. ii. 17.) 3. The annual sacrifice of the Passover was a public national act. Jesus was slain by the rulers and representatives of the nation. (Luke xxx. 13.) 4. The blood of the Passover was sprinkled for protection. By the sprinkling of By the sprinkling of
the blood of Jesus our conscience is purged and protection and salvation obtained. (Heb. ix. 14, xii. 24; 1 Peter i. 2.) 5. The Paschal Lamb was killed between the two evenings, about three in the afternoon. "Christ, our Passover," died for us about the same time. (Mat. xxvii. ; Mark xv.)
We are thus brought to the last Passover kept by the nation prior to the abandonment by Jehovah of their temple sacrifices and service, when the time for making the promised New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah was distant but fifty days. Only a few hours before, Jesus had taken the cup and given it to His Apostles, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt. xxvi.) When Jehovah made with the nation the Old Covenant, Moses took blood and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the Covenant which God hath enjoined upon you." In like manner, Jesus, who is both Mediator and sacrifice, when about to mediate the New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah, shed His own blood, that the better things of the New Economy might be purified with better blood than that of the Old Dispensation. That night He was betrayed, and, after extorted condemnation, slain at the
time of the Passover sacrifice.
What followed? Three of the fifty days He remained in the tomb. Then He showed Himself alive to His Apostles by many infallible proofs, "being seen of them FORTY DAYS, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." At His last interview He informed them that not many days would elapse ere the promise of John the Baptist, that He would baptize them in the Holy Spirit, would be fulfilled; and while they beheld, He was taken up into heaven. Forty-three days had passed since the slaying of the last and ever effectual Passover, and only seven of the fifty intervening between His death and the Day of Pentecost remained.
Those seven days were days of coronation splendour. He whom the Father in heaven has made both Lord and Christ was then crowned with glory and honour. He who had laid His glory aside, and taken the form of a servant, and submitted to the death of the cross, was then re-glorified with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in! Who is this King of Glory The Lord, Mighty in Battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting
doors, and the King of Glory shall come in! Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts. He is the King of Glory!" (Ps. xxiv.) He whom Earth had rejected received the adoration of Heaven, and the welcome of Jehovah. "Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion; rule (or reign) Thou in the midst of Thine enemies." (Ps. cx.) Behold, then, the Lamb of God; the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, having all authority in heaven and in earth; far above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come; Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
"And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come they were all, with one accord, in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." That Pentecost was marked by extraordinary power and glory. The Church was that day laid upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets; Jesus Christ, Himself, the chief corner stone, in whom all the building groweth into a holy temple in the Lord, habitation for God through the Spirit. It was, therefore, appropriate for the Spirit to be poured out in surpassing fulness and demonstration, to take possession of the temple of living stones, which would thus become the habitation of God. When should the Church commence but on the day of the Spirit's outpouring? When should the Spirit be poured out but on that day of Church-planting?
About to ascend to heaven the Saviour commanded His Apostles not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, made through John the Baptizer (that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit), He assured them that not many days hence it would be fulfilled. The Pentecostal outpouring of, and immersion in, the Spirit were the accomplish
The Prophets had foretold this day; consequently Peter, standing up with the other Apostles, lifted up his voice and said, "Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken unto my words, for these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But
Observer, Feb. 1, '76.
But it was not merely the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel that Peter announced, but its fulfilment consequent upon the exaltation of the Saviour. This Jesus hath God raised up whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear; for David is not ascended into the heavens; but he says, himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand till I make Thy foes Thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ." Thus commenced His rule over His Church. 0, wondrous day of glory and of grace !
When, on that far-back Pentecost, Moses gave the law, " About three thousand men slain. It was indeed the ministration of death written and engraven on stones. When this new and final Pentecost came in, on that same day "About three thousand souls" were saved and presented to the Lord as the first fruits of His great harvest unto life eternal.
Here we must rest, and in our next dwell awhile with the Apostles, and upon events which transpired when the Saviour was still with them.
THE NEW JERUSALEM.-No. III. Ancient Jerusalem a Type of the New Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies. The way into the holiest of all was by the veil, which separated the holy place from the most holy, and through which the high priest only passed once every year. Of the great Archetype it is said, "while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Again, "We have a great high priest, who is passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God." These heavens were the veil through which our High Priest passed into the heaven of heavens, the Father's house, the New Jerusalem, just as the Levitical
Observer, Feb. 1, '76.
high priest passed through the veil into the most holy place.
The holy of holies resembled a perfect cube, the length, breadth, and height being, in the Tabernacle, ten cubits each way, and afterwards in the Temple twenty cubits.-Smith, Bib. Dic. Thus the impress of perfection is stamped on the holiest of all by its cubic form, for among the ancients the square figure was the figure of perfection; and there can be no doubt that the idea of a perfect dwelling place for redeemed man is presented to us in the cubic form of the New Jerusalem. "The city lieth four-square, and the length is as large as the breadth and he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal."
Of the temple's beauty we read that it surpassed in splendour all the other buildings in the holy city, perhaps in magnificence unequalled in the world. Its appearance from the Mount of Olives was overpowering. It was built of white marble, and decorated with plates of gold. Josephus says, that in the rising of the sun it reflected so strong and dazzling an effulgence that the eye of the spectator was obliged to turn away. To strangers at a distance it appeared like a mountain covered with snow, for where it was not decorated with plates of gold it was extremely white and glistening.-Barnes.
The beauty of the most holy place is detailed in Ex. xxvi. 31-33, and 2 Chron. iii., and may be considered a type of the celestial city, which was "pure gold, like unto clear glass."
Jerusalem the Golden,
My thoughts, like palms in exile,
For a glimpse of that dear Country
(Sunday Magazine.) Covering the ark were two Cherubims and these look in adoration on the mystery at their feet ("which things the angels desire to look into." 1 Pet. i. 12).-Kurtz.
The law was under the mercy seat, but its voice was hushed by the blood of the atonement.-Rodgers.
The symbolical figure called cherubim was a composite creature-form, which finds a parallel in the religious insignia of Assyria and Egypt (eg.), the sphinx, the winged bulls, and lions of Nineveh. In such forms every imaginative people has sought to embody its notions, either of the attributes of the Divine essence or of the vast powers of nature, which transcend that of man.-Smith, Bib. Dic.
The vision of Ezekiel is pre-eminently the vision of the cherubim. There we learn that in their general aspect they were human, the human face, however, being combined with three others, namely, those of the lion, the ox, and the eagle; recalling to mind the Jewish proverb, "Four are the highest in the creationthe lion among the beasts, the ox among cattle, the eagle among birds, and man above them all; but God is supreme over all." Compare Rev. iv. 6, 7.
The cherubic faces are found to combine the highest types of creature life, thus presenting a sort of personified creaturehood, and leaving no doubt in the mind that their representative character is world-wide, and that the true interpretation of their symbolism is to be found in those words of the Apostle, "The creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God." (Rom. viii.) The association of the cherubim with the Shekinah seems to teach us that only in the new heavens and new earth can the cherubic symbol be fully realised: "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."-William Maude.
We next notice the Shekinah, that miraculous visible glory which was a symbol of the Divine presence. There was no candlestick in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, nor within the veil in the Temple; yet it was full of light, and the light was very much brighter than the light of the sun, for the glory that dwelt between the cherubim on the mercy-seat filled the room with light too dazzling to behold. God himself was the light of that holy place. (Ex. xl. 34; 2 Chron. v. 13, 14; vii. 1, 2,) In this also the four-square room was a figure of the true heaven. John says, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." As God's glory was always on the mercy-seat filling the room with light, we may safely say there was one spot on earth where there was no night. And of the New Jerusalem it is said, "there shall be no night there."-Rodgers, "The Tabernacle."
Bathed in unfallen Sun-light
Let me gaze on thee.
"Her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as a crystal." Nothing can be more transparent than crystal, nothing brighter than jasper, and such will be the light of her glory. The brightness