21st Century Collection of Life Works.


[1] Now six.

[2] In referring to secular writers, we should bear in mind that by far the most dangerous of such are those calling themselves Christians. In our young days, whenever we heard the word "secular," we at once thought of a Tom Paine or a Voltaire; now, alas! we have to think of so-called bishops and doctors of the professing church. Tremendous fact!

[3] The journey of Israel from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea illustrates but too forcibly the history of many souls in the matter of finding peace. Many of the Lord's beloved people go on for years, doubting and fearing, never knowing the blessedness of the liberty with what Christ makes His people free. It is most distressing, to any one who really cares for souls, to see the sad condition in which some are kept all their days, through legality, bad teaching, false manuals of devotion, and such like. It is a rare thing now-a-days to find in christendom a soul fully established in the peace of the gospel. It is considered a good thing — a sign of humility — to be always doubting. Confidence is looked upon as presumption. In short, things are turned completely upside down. The gospel is not known: souls are under law instead of under grace, — they are kept at a distance instead of being taught to draw nearly. Much of the religion of the day is a deplorable mixture of Christ and self, law and grace, faith and works. Souls are kept in a perfect muddle all their days.

Surely these things demand the grave consideration of all who occupy the responsible place of teachers and preachers in the professing church. There is a solemn day approaching, when all such will be called to render an account of their ministry.

[4] "Lectures Introductory to the Pentateuch," by W. Kelly.

[5] With regard to the solemn subject of eternal punishment, we here offer a few remarks, seeing that so very many, both in England and America, are troubled with difficulties respecting it.

There are three considerations, which, if duly weighed, will, we think, settle every Christian on the doctrine.

I. The first is this: There are seventy passages in the New Testament where the word "everlasting," or "eternal," (αἰωνιος) occurs. It is applied to the "life" which believers possess, to the "mansions" into which they are to be received, to the "glory" which they are to enjoy; it is applied to God (Rom. xvi. 26.), to the "salvation" of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the Author, to the "redemption" which He has obtained for us, and to the "Spirit."

Then, out of the seventy passages referred to above, which the reader can verify in a few moments by a glance at a Greek Concordance, there are seven in which the self-same word is applied to the "punishment" of the wicked, to the "judgment" which is to overtake them, to the "fire" which is to consume them.

Now, the question is, Upon what principle, or by what authority, can any one mark off these seven passages and say that in them the word αἰωνιος does not mean "everlasting," while in the other sixty-three it does? We consider the statement utterly baseless, and unworthy the attention of any sober mind. We fully admit that, had the Holy Spirit thought proper, when speaking of the judgment of the wicked, to make use of a different word from that used in the other passages, reason would that we should weigh the fact. But no; He uses the same word invariably, so that if we deny eternal punishment, we must deny eternal life, eternal glory, an eternal Spirit, an eternal God, an eternal any thing. In short, if punishment be not eternal, nothing is eternal, so far as this argument is concerned. To meddle with this stone in the archway of divine revelation, is to reduce the whole to a mass of ruin around us. And this is just what the devil is aiming at. We are fully persuaded that to deny the truth of eternal punishment is to take the first step on that inclined plane which leads down to the dark abyss of universal skepticism.

II. Our second consideration is drawn from the great truth of the immortality of the soul. We read in the second chapter of Genesis that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Upon this one passage, as upon an immovable rock, even if we had not another, we build the great truth of the immortality of the human soul. The fall of man made no difference as to this. Fallen or unfallen, innocent or guilty, converted or unconverted, the soul must live forever.

The tremendous question is, Where is it to live? God cannot allow sin into His presence. "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity." Hence, if a man dies in his sins — dies unrepentant, unwashed, unpardoned, then, most assuredly, where God is he never can come; indeed, it is the very last place to which he would like to come. There is nothing for him but an endless eternity in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

III. And lastly, we believe that the truth of eternal punishment stands intimately connected with the infinite nature of the atonement of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If nothing short of an infinite sacrifice could deliver us from the consequences of sin, those consequences must be eternal. This consideration may not, perhaps, in the judgment of some, carry much weight with it; but to us its force is absolutely irresistible. We must measure sin and its consequences as we measure divine love and its results — not by the standard of human sentiment or reason, but only by the standard of the cross of Christ.

[6] We must distinguish between all true science and "science falsely so called." And further, we must distinguish between the facts of science, and the conclusions of scientific men. The facts are what God has done and is doing; but when men set about drawing their conclusions from these facts, they make the most serious mistakes.

However, it is a real relief to the heart to think that there are many philosophers and men of science who give God His right place, and who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

[7] To apply the solemn address of Christ to the church of Laodicea, as we sometimes find it done in modern evangelical preaching, to the case of the sinner, is a great mistake. No doubt, what the preacher means is right enough, but it is not presented here. It is not Christ knocking at the door of a sinner's heart, but knocking at the door of the professing church. What a fact is this! How full of deep and awful solemnity as regards the church! What an end to come to! — Christ outside! But what grace, as regards Christ, for He is knocking! He wants to come in; He is still lingering, in patient grace and changeless love, ready to come in to any faithful individual heart that will only open to Him. "If any man" — even one! In Sardis, He could speak positively of "a few;" in Laodicea, He can only speak doubtfully as to finding one. But should there be even one, He will come in to him, and sup with him. Precious Saviour! Faithful Lover of our souls! "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever."

Reader, need we wonder that the enemy should seek to mutilate and misapply the solemn and searching address to the church of Laodicea — the professing body in the last dreary stage of its history? We have no hesitation in saying that to apply it merely to the case of an unconverted soul is to deprive the professing church of one of the most pertinent, pungent, and powerful appeals within the covers of the New Testament.

[8] There is an interesting difference between the Lord's "commandments" and "sayings." The former set plainly, distinctly and definitely, what we ought to do; the latter are the expression of His mind. If I give my child a command, it is the statement of his duty; and if he loves me, he will delight to do it. But if he has heard me say I like to see such a thing done, although I have not actually told him to do it, it will touch my heart much more deeply to see him go and do that thing in order to gratify me, than if I had given him a positive command. Now, ought we not to try and please the heart of Christ? Should we not "labor to be agreeable to Him"? He has made us accepted; surely we ought to seek, in every possible way, to be acceptable to Him. He delights in a loving obedience; it was what He Himself rendered to the Father. — "I delight to do Your will; yea, Your law is within My heart." "If You keep My commandments, You shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." Oh, that we may drink more deeply into the spirit of Jesus, walk in His blessed footsteps, and render Him a more loving, devoted, and whole-hearted obedience in all things! Let us earnestly seek after these things, beloved Christian reader, that His heart may be gratified, and His name glorified in us, and in our entire practical career from day to day.

[9] The rendering of Romans vii. 6 in our authorized version is manifestly erroneous, inasmuch as it teaches that the law is dead, which is not true. "The law is good, if a man use it lawfully." (1 Tim. i.) And again, "The law is holy." (Rom. vii.) Scripture never teaches that the law is dead, but it teaches that the believer is dead to the law — a totally different thing.

But further, ἀποθανοντες cannot possibly apply to the law, as any well-taught school-boy can see at a glance; it applies to us — believers. Were it the law, the word would be ἀποθανοντος.

[10] It may be that the reader feels a little jealous of any interference with our excellent English Bible. He may, like many others, feel disposed to say, "How is an uneducated man to know what is Scripture and what is not? Must he depend upon scholars and critics to give him certainty on so grave and important a question? If so, is it not the same old story of looking to human authority to confirm the Word of God?" By no means. It is a totally different thing. We all know that all copies and translations must be, in some points, imperfect, as being human; but we believe that the same grace which gave the Word in the original Hebrew and Greek languages, has most marvelously watched over our English translation, so that a poor man, at the back of a mountain, may rest assured that he possesses in his common English Bible the revelation of the mind of God. It is wonderful, after all the labors of scholars and critics, how few passages, comparatively, have had to be touched; and not one affecting any foundation-doctrine of Christianity. God, who graciously gave us the holy Scriptures at the first, has watched over them and preserved them to His Church in a most wonderful manner. Moreover, He has seen fit to make use of the labors of scholars and critics, from age to age, to clear the sacred text of errors which, through the infirmity attaching to all human agency, had crept into it. Should these corrections shake our confidence in the integrity of Scripture as a whole? or lead us to doubt that we possess, in very deed, the Word of God? No, rather should they lead us to bless God for His goodness in watching over His Word in order to preserve it in its integrity for His Church.

[11] Jonah, of course, is an exception; his mission was to Nineveh. He is the only prophet whose commission had exclusive reference to the Gentiles.

[12] The reader must seize the difference between "the fullness of the Gentiles" in Romans xi, and "the times of the Gentiles" in Luke xxi. The former refers to those who are now being gathered into the Church: the latter, on the contrary, refers to the times of Gentile supremacy which began with Nebuchadnezzar, and runs on to the time when "the stone cut out without hands" shall fall, in crushing power, upon the great image of Daniel ii.

[13] We must accurately distinguish between "nature" and "flesh." The former is recognized in Scripture; the latter is condemned and set aside. "Does not even nature itself teach You?" says the apostle. (1 Cor. xi. 14.) Jesus beholding the young ruler in Mark x, "loved him" although there was nothing but nature. To be without natural affection is one of the marks of the apostasy. Scripture teaches that we are dead to sin, not to nature, else what becomes of our natural relationships?

[14] The reader will do well to ponder the fact that there is no such thing in the New Testament as human appointment to preach the gospel, teach in the assembly of God, or feed the flock of Christ. Elders and deacons were ordained by the apostles or their delegates, Timothy and Titus; but evangelists, pastors, and teachers were never so ordained. We must distinguish between gift and local charge. Elders and deacons might possess a special gift or not; it had nothing to do with their local charge. If the reader would understand the subject of ministry, let him study 1 Corinthians xii.-xiv. and Ephesians iv. 8-13. In the former we have, first, the basis of all true ministry in the Church of God, namely, divine appointment — "God has set the members," etc.; secondly, the motive-spring — "love;" thirdly, the object — "that the Church may receive edifying." In Ephesians iv. we have the source of all ministry — a risen and ascended Lord; the design — "to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry;" the duration — "till we all come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

In a word, ministry, in all its departments, is entirely a divine institution. It is not of man or by man, but of God. The Master must, in every case, fit, fill, and appoint the vessel. There is no authority in Scripture for the notion that every man has a right to minister in the Church of God. Liberty for men is radicalism and not Scripture. Liberty for the Holy Ghost to minister by whom He will is what we are taught in the New Testament. May we learn it.

[15] The reader may perhaps feel disposed to inquire, On what ground will the Gentile be judged if he is not under the law? Romans i. 20 teaches us distinctly that the testimony of creation leaves him without excuse. Then, in chapter ii. 15, he is taken up on the ground of conscience. — "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness," etc. Finally, as regards those nations that have become professedly Christian, they will be judged on the ground of their profession.

[16] The omission of the article adds immensely to the force, fullness, and clearness of the passage. It is διὰ νόμου νόμῳ ἁπέθανον. A wonderful clause, surely. Would that it were better understood! It demolishes a vast mass of human theology. It leaves the law in its own proper sphere; but takes the believer completely from under its power, and out of its range, by death. "Why, my brethren, You also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that You should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God" (which we never could do if under the law). "For when we were in the flesh" — a correlative term with being under the law — "the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit to death." Mark the melancholy combination — "under the law""in the flesh""motions of sins""fruit to death"! Can any thing be more strongly marked? But there is another side, thank God, to this question — His own bright and blessed side. Here it is: "But now we are delivered from the law." How? Is it by another's having fulfilled it for us? No; but, "Having died to that [ἀποθανόντες ἐν ῷ] wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." How perfect and how lovely is the harmony of Romans vii. and Galatians ii.! "I through law am dead to law, that I might live to God."

[17] It is needful to bear in mind that although the Gentile was never, by the dispensational dealings of God, put under the law, yet, in point of fact, all baptized professors take that ground. Hence there is a vast difference between christendom and the heathen in reference to the question of the law. Thousands of unconverted people, every week, ask God to incline their hearts to keep the law. Surely, such persons stand on very different ground from the heathen who never heard of the law, and never heard of the Bible.

[18] Some are of opinion that the expression, "on the Lord's day" ought to be rendered, "on the day of the Lord," meaning that the apostle was in the spirit of that day when our Lord Christ shall take to Himself His great power and reign. But to this view there are two grave objections. In the first place, the words τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρα, rendered, in Revelation i. 10, "The Lord's day," are quite distinct from ὴ ἡμέρα κυρίον, in 1 Thessalonians v. 2; 2 Thessalonians ii. 2; 2 Peter iii. 10, properly rendered, "The day of the Lord."

This we consider a very weighty objection, and one quite sufficient to settle the question. But in addition to this, we have the argument based on the fact that by far the greater portion of the book of Revelation is occupied, not with "the day of the Lord," but with events prior thereto.

Hence, therefore, we feel persuaded that "the Lord's day" and "the first day of the week" are identical; and this we deem a very important fact, as proving that that day has a very special place in the Word of God — a place which every intelligent Christian will thankfully own.

[19] We would commend to the reader's attention psalm lxvii. It is one of a large class of passages which prove that the blessing of the nations is consequent upon Israel's restoration. "God be merciful to us [Israel], and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known upon earth, Your saving health among all nations.... God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him." There could not be a more lovely or forcible proof of the fact that it is Israel, and not the Church, that will be used for the blessing of the nations.

[20] The application of John xvi. 8-11 to the Spirit's work in the individual is, in our judgment, a serious mistake. It refers to the effect of His presence on earth, in reference to the world as a whole. His work in the soul is a precious truth, we need hardly say, but it is not the truth taught in this passage.

[21] The word ἐρευνᾶτε maybe either imperative or indicative; but the context, we judge, demands the latter. They had the Scriptures; they were read in their synagogues every Sabbath day; they professed to believe that in them they had eternal life; they testified of Him; and yet they would not come to Him. Here was the flagrant inconsistency. Now, if ἐρευνᾶτε be taken as a command, the whole force of the passage is lost.

Need we remind the reader that there are plenty of arguments and inducements leading us to search the Scriptures, without appealing to what we believe to be an inaccurate rendering of John v. 39?

[22] The expression, "Cutting off the members of Christ's body" is generally applied in cases of discipline; but it is quite a misapplication. The discipline of the assembly can never touch the unity of the body. A member of the body may so fail in morals or err in doctrine as to call for the action of the assembly in putting him away from the table, but that has nothing to do with his place in the body. The two things are perfectly distinct.

[23] The unity of the Church may be compared to a chain thrown across a river; we see it at each side, but it dips in the middle. But though it dips, it is not broken; though we do not see the union in the middle, we believe it is there all the same. The Church was seen in its unity on the day of Pentecost, and it will be seen in its unity in the glory; and although we do not see it now, we nevertheless believe it most surely.

And be it remembered that the unity of the body is a great practical, formative truth; and one very weighty practical deduction from it is that the state and walk of each member affect the whole body. "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." A member of what? Some local assembly? No; but a member of the body. We must not make the body of Christ a matter of geography.

But, we may be asked, are we affected by what we do not see or know? Assuredly. Are we to limit the grand truth of the unity of the body, with all its practical consequences, to the measure of our personal knowledge and experience? Far be the thought. It is the presence of the Holy Ghost that unites the members of the body to the Head and to one another; and hence it is that the walk and ways of each affect all. Even in Israel's case, where it was not a corporate but a national unity, when Achan sinned, it was said, "Israel has sinned;" and the whole congregation suffered a humiliating defeat on account of a sin of which they were ignorant.

It is perfectly marvelous how little the Lord's people seem to understand the glorious truth of the unity of the body, and the practical consequences flowing from it.

[24] The reader must distinguish between the Gog and Magog of Revelation xx. and those of Ezekiel xxxviii. and xxxix. The former are post-millennial; the latter, pre-millennial.

Transcriber's note:

Variations in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been retained except in obvious cases of typographical error.

Volume I, by Charles Henry Mackintosh

From Notes on the Book of Deuteronomy by Charles Henry Mackintosh; First published by LOIZEAUX BROTHERS, Inc., in 1880. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.