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represents the initial blessing, the lifting of one's leprosy, the bringing back of an unclean man or woman to fellowship and favour with God-for that is life and health and peace begun which shall infallibly endure for ever—the initial blessing comes, when it does come, like the lightning's flash, immediately, Christ's love flies into a perishing soul. . It had need be so, for my danger is imminent; my need is awful; and Christ is not going to mock and tantalize me, and put me through a long and tedious process. Immediately He put forth His hand, and said, “ I will ; be thou made clean.”
Put doctrinally, theologically, it is very well expressed by a statement in a little old book that I know
well. I shed many a bitter tear in getting it up — the Catechism of
the Westminster Assembly of Divines. There is a definition in that book of justification, as the initial blessing, without which nothing-the sine qua non, the beginning of the whole business. The little old book is just a halfpenny, and a
. number of people despise it very much, but they ought to produce a better one first. Then let their contempt follow. Here is what it says about justification-listen to the words. It is the doctrinal statement of this actual fleshand-blood story.
There stands Christ, the Son of God, in all His fulness. There stands the miserable leper. There
stand. What takes place is this : My prayer flies to Him, and His grace comes to me immediately. It is described thus—“Justification is an act”-not a work-“ Justification is an act of God's free grace wherein He pardoneth all our sins”—there is the leper lying in the Saviour's bosom" wherein he pardoneth all our sins and
. accepteth us as righteous "--clean, whole, healthy, sound; not only convalescent, but righteous—" accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us and received by faith alone.”
I do not want to be controversial, or to refer to controversy, but I say, from the depths of my heart, commend me to the old theology for cleansing a leper, and for keeping him clean. May God bless these words! Amen.
Henderson & Spalding, Printers, 3 & 5, Marylebone Lane, W.
It is the sixth verse that seems to me to be the explanation or key-note of this brief biography: “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.”
The Bible, you see, has its own way of writing this biography. That text might have been put first, and then after the text might have come this brief yet striking account of Jotham's activity. But the Bible prefers on this occasion that we should go through these seemingly dry statistical matter-of-fact details about building castles and fighting Ammonites, and so on, and so on, till suddenly you come upon the sixth verse. Of course, we who know the Bible know, as we come down through these verses, that it is almost sure to be working to something like this.
Vol. III.--No. 22.
If it does not put the heart first, we shall come to the heart of it if we travel onwards. And here we get it in the sixth
“So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before th Lord his God.” This successful king was a spiritual man, that is to say, he was a believer—a simple, whole-hearted, humbled-minded, persevering believer
- in the Lord his God, the God of his fathers, the God of Israel, the record of whose doings was made known to him in the Scriptures that he had. “Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.”
Now, without taking up the text, and then going away in general terms to explain what “preparing one's ways before the Lord his God” is, it is much simpler and easier, and more to the Scripture in hand, just to lay the text alongside of what Jotham did; for that is really the meaning of our text as it comes in here. The Lord wants us to see the mainspring of all this successful king's energy. The striking thing is how, in the case of a man who was successful in outward, material, and what we should call secular and worldly ways, the explanation of his success is found in inward, hidden, secret, unobserved, private, unheralded, and, very likely, to a large extent, unknown devotion, and humility, and prayerfulness of heart and soul, in his hidden life before God. Outside, he seemed to be just very much like any big builder, a royal contractor ; but, inside, he was as pure and spiritual as ever his father David was when he
was singing those psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that still ring in the ears of all the generations of people. Now, just think of this spiritual man, We read, for
. example, that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father did ; but he entered not into the temple of the Lord.” Remember the key-stone verse or the key-note verse, the sixth, and then apply it to this little item of his practical life. You remember that Uzziah was his father. Uzziah was a good man, but not perfectly good. He went wrong at one place very sorely, and foolishly, and wickedly. His heart was lifted up. He was pot content with being great on the throne, but he usurped to himself the priest's office, and went into the temple, for which spiritual pride and wickedness God smote him with leprosy. He was driven from his friends, and lived in privacy for some years-we trust in penitence and humility of heart—until he died. And one sees, as by a chink here in the narrative, that there seems to have come along some temptation of the same kind to Jotham. He too was successful. God had highly exalted him and prospered him, and lifted him up; but, significantly, we read, that while he did what was right, as his father had done, "he entered not into the temple of the Lord," although the people were corrupt. Very likely there had been a still further degeneration; and if he had wanted to claim this power and proudly usurp authority,