There is (it may be said) but one miracle in the Christian Faith, comprehending and involving all others, and that miracle is the coming of a Supernatural Person into the world; and it was inevitable that the entrance of such a Person, like His exit, should be supernatural too.  Thus the whole Church held the Virgin Birth of Christ, until challenged by the Ebionites and the Gnostics; and for another fifteen hundred years it was held by the entire Church, until the modern denial, springing from Paine and Voltaire, was reinforced by Strauss and Renan.  Ignatius, a disciple of the Apostle John, says:-Stop your ears when anyone speaks to you at variance with the truth that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Virgin Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost.”  The first professed Christian teacher to deny the Virgin Birth was Cerinthus, the deadly Gnostic opponent of John.



FOR MESSIAH HAD TO BE THE SON OF A VIRGIN.  The Lord Himself shall give you a sign - a miracle; a natural conception would be no miracle: “behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL” (Isaiah 7: 14), which, Matthew is careful to explain (Matthew 1: 23), means “God with us.”  If from stones God could raise up Children to Abraham - and the Scripture says so - miraculous conception cannot be impossible; for, as Gabriel assures Mary, “no word from God shall be void of power” (Luke 1: 37) - that is, every utterance of God carries in it the dynamic of its own fulfilment.  God can form man in four ways: from a man and a woman, as constant custom shows; from neither man nor woman, as Adam; from a man without a woman, as Eve; or from a woman without a man, as the Son of God” (Anselm).  Jehovah’s interdict had irrevocably barred the ancestry of Joseph from producing the Messiah (Jeremiah 22: 20; Matthew 1: 11): if Jesus was Joseph’s Son, He was not the Messiah.



MESSIAH ALSO HAD TO BE THE SON OF GOD.  For unto us a child is born, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God” (Isaiah 9: 6).  So Gabriel says to Mary:- The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: WHEREFORE also that which is to be born shall be called (1) holy, (2) the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35): that is, both the sinlessness and the Deity of Jesus spring wholly and exclusively from the virgin birth; not, shall be holy, the Son of God, for these He always was; but, for the first time on human lips and in the human arena, shall be called holy, the Son of God.”  The Branch of God was grafted into human stock from without: so, in the manner of all grafts, it bore its own fruit, not the fruit of the stock.  (The alleged heathen “virgin births” are not virgin births at all; but angelic fornications which brought the old world to ruin - Genesis 6: 2, 4 - and form the basis of all heathen mythology).  Vital and momentous is the truth; for if the birth was not of the Holy Ghost, since it was also not of Joseph, himself being witness (Matthew 1: 19), Jesus was base-born, bastard-born: there is but one step between belief and blasphemy.



All requirements of Messiahship mingled, as only God could blend them, in the Lord.  MESSIAH HAD TO BE THE LEGAL HEIR OF JOSEPH.  Both Joseph and Mary were in unbroken descent from David, Joseph through Solomon, Mary through Nathan; but Joseph was heir of the elder branch; no Jew, therefore, could accept Jesus as Messiah, unless, in the eyes of the Law, he was son of Joseph.  Betrothal, under the Law, involved the legal status of wedlock (Deuteronomy 22: 23, 24); so, after the espousal, and before the marriage, took place the conception by the Holy Ghost.  So also God’s angel said: Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife” (Matthew 1: 20); and Gabriel could say, with the Law on his side, the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1: 32).  For Jesus was the legal Heir of the Head of the eldest branch of the Royal House.*



* It is contended that “only” Matthew and Luke assert the Virgin Birth.  How often must God say a thing before it becomes true?  One utterance of the Holy Ghost is decisive: moreover, only Matthew and Luke record anything about our Lord’s infancy at all.  At the mouth of two witnesses shall a matter be established.” (Deuteronomy 19: 15).



So all competing claims of Scripture coalesce in the Virgin Birth, with which the Christmas faith is established, without which it is destroyed.  In Joseph, the legal Heir (Luke 3: 23; “supposed” - regarded legally); in Mary, the human Sacrifice; in the Holy Ghost, Immanuel: in Joseph, the Son of David; in Mary, the Son of Man; in the Holy Ghost, the Son of God: in Joseph, Heir of Israel (Matthew 21: 38); in Mary, Heir of the world (Romans 4: 13); in the Holy Ghost, Heir of all things (Hebrews 1: 2).  But where lay the supreme reason for the Virgin Birth?  MESSIAH’S BODY HAD TO BE THE SOLE BURNT OFFERING.  The reason for Bethlehem is Calvary.  It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.  Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a BODY didst Thou prepare for Me; in the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast no pleasure: then said I, LO I -with a body prepared, not so much for the birth, as for the bruising (Genesis 3: 15) - am come to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10: 4).  God could not die, for He only hath immortality; God could not be a sacrifice for human sin, for the sacrifice must be in the nature that sinned; God could not be bruised for our iniquities: but God incarnate could be, and was; for the WORD WAS GOD, and the Word became flesh” (John 1: 1, 14).  It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin: it is impossible for the blood of the Son of God not to take away sin.  Feed the Church of God, which He purchased WITH HIS OWN BLOOD” (Acts 19: 20).






*       *       *





In the study of Scripture pertaining to the birth of the Lord, we have accustomed ourselves to thinking of only manger scenes and childhood scenes with a devotional slant on the Scriptures; however, each one of the so-called Christmas stories is deeply prophetic.  For instance, in the second chapter of Matthew we read of the wise men coming from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” (2: 2).  The literal interpretation of this is, where is He that is born TO BE King of the Jews? which gives a future aspect to their announcement.  The entire Book of Matthew is subsequently given over to establishing the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is King of the Jews.  He presented Himself as such at His so-called Triumphal Entry.  Israel rejected Him as her King and crucified Him with the inscription on the cross in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, THIS IS JESUS [OF NAZARETH] THE KING OF THE JEWS.  The particular passage which we want to discuss in this article because of its prophetic aspect is Luke 1: 30-33: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God.  And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUSHe shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”

What a different concept Christians would have of our Lord and His ministry if they would but study and understand just this one passage of Scripture.  Seven things are mentioned by the angel in this prophecy and at once one has to decide whether he is going to take the Word of the Lord literally or figuratively.  There should be no trouble at all in taking the entire Bible literally except in those instances where it is designated by the Lord to be a parable or a figure of speech, symbol or type.  Let us consider these seven phrases of this prophecy and see if we can determine whether it is literal or figurative.


Here are the seven statements of the prophecy:-


(1) Thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son;

(2) And shalt call His name JESUS;

(3) He shall be great;

(4) And shall be called the Son of the Highest;

(5) And the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David;

(6) And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever;

(7) And of His kingdom there shall be no end.


An elementary and fundamental rule of interpretation is consistency.  If part of this prophecy is literal then all must be literal.  If part is figurative then all must be figurative.  The Lord Himself never confused them, but always distinguished the literal and the figurative interpretation.

Let us consider the first phrase.  Was the conception of the birth of Jesus literal?  We read in Matthew 1: 18-25 that when Joseph realized that Mary was with child before they were married, he naturally supposed she had been untrue to him and was minded to put her away privately.  The law made provision for a public stoning of those guilty of infidelity, but Joseph was a good man and was not going to make a public spectacle of the one he loved.  The fact is that Mary’s conception of Jesus was known to all people.  One of the many tragedies of our Lord’s life was that often when He was in a crowd, the Pharisees would ask the insulting question, Who is thy father?” insinuating that He was born out of wedlock.  The point is that Mary actually, literally and physically conceived and brought forth a Son.  In all of the arguments presented by Satan against Christianity, we have never encountered a denial of the existence of Mary and of the fact that she gave birth to a Son named Jesus.

This brings us to the second point: And shalt call His name JESUS.”  Renan, the French infidel, has written extensively on the life of Jesus.  Josephus, in his Antiquity of the Jews, speaks of Him and some of His experiences.  The point we are making is that infidels, atheists, modernists, rationalists, Mohammedans and Buddhists all acknowledge that there was actually, literally and physically a person named Jesus of Nazareth.  Their denial pertains to His Deity, not to His humanity.  He was called Jesus because He was to be the Saviour.  God Almighty has set forth one of the most important questions facing man, What think ye of Jesus?  Whose Son is He?”  To acknowledge that He is the Son of the living God means eternal life.  To deny it means eternal damnation.

The third statement of the prophecy is, He shall be great.”  We were interested a number of years ago in an article appearing in the AMERICAN MAGAZINE entitled “The Ten Greatest Men Who Ever Lived.”  The author condescended to name Jesus first.  He called Him the greatest man that ever lived.  Judaism, modernism, atheism, secularism, and all realms of thought are at one in saying that Jesus was great - great in His life, great in His teaching, great in His example.  He is acknowledged by one and all to be great; and the prophecy that He shall be great has been literally and actually fulfilled.

The fourth statement, He shall be called the Son of the Highest, was actually and literally fulfilled at the time of His baptism.  And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.  And lo, a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3: 16, 17).  And again in the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17: 5) we have the Lord God from heaven speaking, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.”  Again, here is a prophecy actually, literally and audibly fulfilled.  He was called by the Highest the Son of the Highest.

Generally speaking we do not encounter much opposition to those four phases of prophecy being accepted literally, but when it comes to the remaining three there is a wide divergence of interpretation; but if the first four are literal, these remaining three must also be literal.  If the latter are not literal, then the former are not literal.

The fifth phase of the prophecy is, The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father, David.”  Did David actually and literally have a throne [on this earth] upon which he sat and from whence he administered the affairs of an earthly kingdom?  In 2 Samuel 5: 5, we read: In Hebron He reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem He reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.”  Was this throne promised or prophesied to our Lord Jesus Christ?  It surely was.  In Acts 2: 29, 30 when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost he said, Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to Him, that of the fruit of His loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to SIT ON HIS THRONE.  Has Jesus ever ascended David’s throne to rule and to reign?  No!  Must the prophecy yet be fulfilled?  Yes!  Not one jot or tittle shall fail of [its] fulfilment.  Is not Christ seated on David’s throne today?  No!  He is seated on His Father’s throne at His right hand.  Is not He ruling on David’s throne when He reigns in our hearts?  No!  David’s throne is not in our hearts.  It was in Hebron and then Jerusalem, and it will be in Jerusalem when Jesus takes over the Throne of His father David.  That will be actually and literally fulfilled when Jesus returns [and reigns upon this earth] as the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

The sixth phase of the prophecy is, He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.”  Many today try to interpret that as meaning the Church, and Christ is reigning over the church, but Scripture never speaks of Christ as King of the church nor reigning over the church.  Christ is the Head of the church, and the church [of the firstborn] * is His bride the consort Queen which shall rule and reign with Him. Is there a house of Jacob?  In 2 Samuel 7: 14-17 we have the Lord’s prophecy through Nathan that He is going to make a house of David, who was a descendant of Jacob, and that over this house, designated in the Scripture as the house of Israel (Jacob’s name after he met the Lord at the brook Jabok), the Seed of David, which is Jesus, should reign forever.  Scripture becomes absolutely meaningless unless the Lord Jesus Christ returns and reigns over the literal house of J

[* NOTE.  It would be better to have written: ‘Christ is the Head of the Church; and He will select out of His Church the Bride, who shall rule and reign with Him.’  Not all who are in the Church will reign with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.  If the Church includes all the redeemed called out from the world; the “Church of the Firstborn” (Heb. 12: 23), must include all who have been called out from amongst the redeemed, who will have a double portion of their Father’s inheritance.  That is, firstborn sons of God will inherit the Millennial Kingdom 1,000 years before the eternal inheritance in ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21: 1); which is the single portion of the Father’s inheritance promised to all who are redeemed and eternally saved.  Compare Heb. 12: 16, 17 with Gen. 27: 1-38.]

The seventh and last phase of the prophecy has to do with the fact that of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”*  The second chapter of Daniel tells of four world-wide kingdoms that are to exist here on the earth, and these kingdoms will be destroyed and supplanted by the Kingdom of our Lord at the time of His return.  His Kingdom, described as a rock cut out of a mountain without hands, grows until it fills the whole earth; and having established His reign over the earth, He shall then continue to reign over the new earth, and over His kingdom there, [there] shall be no end.

[* The millennial kingdom must end after ‘the thousand years’ and the last rebellion (Rev. 20: 7, 8); when Messiah Jesus “hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion and power” (1 Cor. 15: 24); but in the “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21: 1), there will be no sea: and the Son will rule for ever and ever.]

Our Lord told us to pray, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  The Spirit of the Lord breathed this prayer in closing the Scriptures: Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” and we await the literal, physical return of our Lord and the establishment of His literal, physical [Millennial] Kingdom on the [this] earth.

- A. Edwin Wilson


*       *       *



(Matthew 2: 1-12.)



The quietness of everyday life in the city of Jerusalem was suddenly broken about 1900 years ago with the appearance of some wise men from the east.  It was not just their appearance, but the question they asked which disturbed the whole city.  They asked, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”  These wise men knew from some God-given source that the appearance of the star in the east heralded the birth of the [promised] Messiah.  The ancient fathers believed that the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers 24: 17 referred definitely to the appearance of a star in time to announce the Messiah’s advent.  Astronomers and historians are familiar with the appearing of the star but have never been able to account for its singularity.  Amos 3: 7 tells us that God always reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets, and we know full well that His advent of necessity must be announced.  According to the Scriptures the star simply appeared in the east, the wise men saw it, they knew that Christ had been born and they set out to Jerusalem to see Him who had been born King of the Jews.  The star did not lead them to Jerusalem, neither was it visible during the intervening time.  After its appearance in the east they did not see it again until it appeared in Jerusalem and led them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Word of the presence and demeanor of the wise men soon reached Herod the king, and when he heard these things he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Herod was troubled because of the announcement that a successor to him had been born, and he immediately began to speculate upon a course of procedure to remove the Heir apparent to the throne.  All Jerusalem was troubled of the uneasiness of her conscience in the presence of the announcement that the Messiah had come.  The same thing results today every time a Spirit inspiring message is preached on the SECOND coming of Christ.  The fact that they may face Him soon disturbs each and every individual who is in any way out of fellowship with Him.

Herod’s first step was to gather the chief priests and scribes together and demand of them where Christ should be born.  It has always been an interesting thought to me that Herod, an unbeliever, recognized at once that the King of the Jews was Christ!  I say interesting, because while speaking on this subject last summer at a prominent Bible conference I had some of the religious leaders try to tell me that Christ was not the King of the Jews!

Another point of interest is that these scribes and chief priests replied immediately without having to look in the Scriptures: “... In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus is it written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”

Having ascertained the place of His birth, Herod’s second step was to determine the time of His birth.  This he did by privately calling the wise men aside and inquiring very diligently concerning the time of the appearance of the star.  Then he told them to go to Bethlehem, find the Child, and come back and tell him, so that he too might go and worship Him.  After they left the king the star which they had seen in the east appeared once more.  The ninth verse shows that it did not lead them to Jerusalem - it simply appeared in the east announcing the birth of the Messiah and then it was seen no more until it appeared in Jerusalem to lead them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  Subsequent events reveal that it took them approximately two years to make the journey from their home in the east to Jerusalem.  They went there because that was the capital of Jewry and surely that was where the King would be born.  Little did they realize the lowly estate by which the King would be born.  Little did they realize the lowly estate by which the King of kings the Lord of lords would come into the world at His first advent.

The joy produced by the appearing of the star at Jerusalem is further evidence that it had not been visible for sometime.  It led them to a house where the young Child was with Mary, His mother.  The Greek word translated Child is an entirely different word to that of the Babe in Luke 2: 12.

The events that followed cause us to believe that very likely the Child Jesus was about two years old when the wise men found Him in the house and fell down and worshipped Him.  Their worship was manifested in the presentation of gifts.  These are highly symbolic and provide a fruitful study.  There was gold which symbolized the Godly sovereignty and Kingship - a confession on the part of the wise men that this was God the King in the flesh.  The incense which was offered is described in Revelation as intercessory prayers of the saints in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ.  It shows the faith of the wise men in confessing Christ to be their High Priest and Intercessor.  The myrrh, always used in connection with the preparation of bodies for burial, bespeaks the faith of the wise men in the sacrificial death of this One for their sins.  The three gifts revealed the three offices of our Lord: Myrrh, Prophet; frankincense, Priest; gold, King.  This is a truth which many purported religious leaders today have not yet learned in their studies of Christ - that He WAS Prophet, IS NOW Priest, and when He comes again WILL BE King.

The wise men were then warned of God not to go to Herod, so they went home in another direction.  Joseph also was warned in a dream of Herod’s scheme to take the young Child’s life and was told to take Him with His mother to go down to Egypt, that the Scripture “... out of Egypt have I called my Son ...” might be fulfilled.  When Herod saw that he had been mocked by the wise men not returning, he slew all the children in Bethlehem that were two years old and under.  The Scripture says he did this because of the time of the appearing of the star which he had learned from the wise men.  This incident seems to confirm the thought that the wise men appeared somewhere around two years after the birth of Christ.

May the Lord bless you this Christmas season and grant to you insight into the Person and work of our blessed Lord - that you may see in Him your Prophet, Priest, and King.


*       *       *




For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establishment it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9: 6, 7).



This is a description of the coming Messiah who shall rule and reign upon the throne of David in Jerusalem for a thousand years.  Not only shall the government of the nations be upon his shoulders, but the government of each individual citizen of His kingdom.  There is also the possibility and the choice of His government being the rule of each individual Christian’s life today.  See Col. 3: 15 and Luke 6: 46.

Consider also His names:

(1) WONDERFUL: This means that He Himself is a miracle and that He Himself possesses the supernatural powers which belong only to the Almighty God. See Matt. 28: 18.

(2) COUNSELLOR: As Christ He is the Wisdom of God; therefore, He can admonish, advise, teach and instruct. See Col. 2: 3; James 1: 5.

(3) THE MIGHTY GOD: As the Mighty God not only is He the source of all power but He is all powerful in and of Himself.  There is no power outside, neither apart from Him whose name is The Mighty God.

(4) THE EVERLASTING FATHER: He is from eternity to eternity; all plans and purposes, for all that is, come from Him as The Everlasting Father.  To me the most precious thought in this connection is that not only is our Mighty God not only our Father, but He has said that, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him (Psalm 103: 13).  Selah.  This word in the Hebrew means “Just think of that.”  So I want you to just think of the fact that The Almighty God is our Father.  For that reason Jesus said, After this manner pray ye, Our Father ...”

(5) PRINCE OF PEACE: There is no peace apart from the grace of God, and, of necessity, the Lord Jesus Christ must come and manifest the grace of God in dying for the sins of the whole world.  Each individual Christian can have the peace of God and peace with God by virtue of faith in His atoning sacrifice.  But the world as such can never have [lasting] peace until, the Prince of Peace returns, puts down every enemy and establishes His personal reign of peace.

This is the One of whom we sing and in whose name we pray when we think of the Babe in the manger.


*       *       *






Usually the first thoughts in our minds associated with Christmas are about gifts - what to give, and wondering what will be given to us.  Seldom do individuals think of the Gift of gifts.

When the wise men from the east came to Jerusalem seeking Him who was born King of the Jews, they came to worship Him.  They did not find Him until the star of the East led them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  There in a house with His mother Mary, they found the Child Jesus and fell down and worshipped Him.  Part of their worship was the presentation of gifts.  Of course the Lord Jesus Christ was God’s love Gift to the world, and in appreciation of this wonderful Gift from the heavenly Father, they gave gifts to the Christ Child.

Now in a sentence - the presentation of the gifts by the wise men expressed to all creation their belief that this Child was Prophet, Priest, and King - God manifest in the flesh.  And because the Lord had given Himself for us, what better gift can we give Him than to acknowledge before the whole world that He is our Prophet, Priest, and coming King?  This is done by expressing a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the power of His Holy Spirit, living for His honour and glory.



[The ‘wise men from the east (Matt. 2: 1) were not the shepherds who were living in the fields nearby (Luke 2: 8).  It was the latter group (the shepherds) who visited the stable to ‘find a babe (Luke 2: 12, R.V.) lying inside; the wise men from the east arrived a considerable time later to “see the young child with Mary his mother” (Matt. 2: 13, R.V.).]



*       *       *







[GOD’S] prophets foretold Messiah glorified on the earth; reigning at Jerusalem, worshipped by angels, served by kings adored by the nations.



(1)     Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, and before His ancients (elders) gloriously:”

Isa. 24: 23.



(2) “Every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles:”

Zech. 14: 16.



(3) “And thou, 0 tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee it shall come, even the first dominion, the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem:”

Mic. 4: 8; compare Acts 1: 6.



(4) “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”  Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him:”

Ps. 72: 8, 11.



On such prophecies the Jewish mind fastened.  These it expected to be fulfilled, the moment Messiah appeared.  Hence, when Jesus appeared in meekness, and without regal power, the nation rejected Him.  But were these the only passages that spoke of Messiah?  Nay, there were others that, as unequivocally, foretold His humiliation.



(1)I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.

I hid not my face from shame and spitting:”

Isa. 1: 6.



(2)Then I said I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought and in vain,

yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God:”

Isa. 49: 4.



(3)Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him whom

man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers,

kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship:”

Isa. 49: 7.



(4) “They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn:”

Zech. 12: 10.



Now, as the Jews could not see how to reconcile both these classes of passages, they took the set which pleased them best, and rejected the opposite series.  Hence, with minds blinded by prejudice, - a prejudice which refused to receive the entire compass of God’s testimony, they understood not the clearest assertions of the Saviour respecting His approaching sufferings.



Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted on.  And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death and the third day He shall rise again.’ AND THEY UNDERSTOOD NONE, OF THESE THINGS and this saying was hid from them neither knew they the things which were spoken:” Luke 18: 31-34.



But now the opposite result has taken place: and Christians, finding that the promises to Jerusalem, to the Jews, and to Jesus as the King of the Jews, have not yet been accomplished, have decided in their own minds, that they are never to be literally fulfilled; but that they belong to some future and indefinite expansion and victory of the Church of Christ.



Thus have, they, like the Jews of old, believed only the half of what the prophets have declared, and fall under the lash of the Saviour’s rebuke to the two mourning disciples that travelled to Emmaus: O fools and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken!”






*       *       *


















Thy Kingdom come.” - MATTHEW 6: 10; Luke 11: 2.



THE Bible is a book of hope.  It looks, not backward, but forward. It has its face turned towards the light. It always speaks of “a best that is still to be.”  We open its pages and we read of Eden; of a time when the world was free from pain and sorrow and sadness, because man was free from sin.  While man was innocent his home was a garden, all nature served him, a sky that was always blue smiled down upon him, and God was his familiar friend.  But we read on a chapter or two and a change comes over the aspect of things.  Eden disappears, and has never been found since.  Joy, harmony, peace vanish, and leave behind them discord, sorrow, hate.  When man sinned, pain and grief and death entered the world, man’s sky grew black with clouds; God no longer spoke [Page 63] with him in the cool of the evening, and he was driven out of the garden, at the gates of which the cherubim were posted with swords of flame which pointed every way, as if to say, “No return, no return.”



But even in the story of that bitter loss I detect the note of hope.”  You perhaps remember the old Greek legend which says that when Pandora was married to Epimetheus the gods gave her a box, which was full of winged blessings, as a wedding present.  As long as Pandora kept the box locked, so long life was like a summer’s day.  She and her husband enjoyed every blessing.  But one day, tempted by curiosity, she opened the box, and on the instant the little winged creatures who were locked inside took flight and left her for ever. All? did I say.  No, not quite all.  Hope remained at the bottom of the box, the only blessing left to Pandora and her husband!  And so exactly man lost everything by sin except hope.  When God made man He gave him every blessing.  But when man unmade himself, these blessings took flight.  He lost his innocence, he lost his peace, he lost his happiness, he lost his home, he lost everything but hope.  God left him hope to comfort him in his bitter grief.  God left him hope to save him from despair.  [Page 64] When man’s night was blackest, God sent into his sky a star, a star that was the promise of a day to come.  In pronouncing doom upon disobedient man, God also gave him a promise as if to say, “It shall not always be midnight and deep despair with thee.  Thy dayspring shall again arise.”  That note of hope, struck even in the story of the tragedy of the fall, is the keynote of the Bible.  The Bible is a book of the future, and the spring-time, and the dawn.  You will not find its pages taken up with regrets for the Eden which has been lost; it looks forward to a better Eden still to come.  It does not spend its time in bewailing the sunshine that has disappeared from the earth; it rather bids men wake and watch that they may be ready to greet the still more glorious day which is about to break.  For as you read the Bible, what do you discover?  You discover one glowing promise after another given by God; you find hope ever waxing stronger; you find the assurance that the night is departing, ever waxing more confident, until at last some prophet, of keener vision than the rest, catches on the peaks of distant bills the foregleam of the dawn, beholds the vision of the light, not of moon or stars, but of the sun, and announces to a world sick with longing for the day, that the light is come, [Page 65] and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”  It is to the future the Bible looks.  From its first page to the last it preaches the glad gospel of hope.  The old Eden which has been lost is a prophecy of the better Eden to be gained.  The “golden age” of the Bible is before, not behind.  Paganism could only look back wistfully to the past and sigh for the reign of Saturn, when the earth had peace and plenty and joy - those glad days which had been, but could return no more.  But the Bible teaches us to look forward.  Our good time is still to come.  Our golden age is still in the womb of the future. We are still looking for that glorious “last for which the first was made.”  It is of the golden age to which the Christian looks forward that this second petition speaks.  Thy Kingdom come is a prayer for the good time coming, a prayer for the golden age, a prayer for the better Eden.  For the earth’s golden age will come when God is King.  I say the earth’s golden age advisedly.  Let me emphasise it - the earth’s golden age!  For many have misinterpreted the reference of this petition.  Tertullian, the old Latin father, would have made this petition the third, not the second.  He would have read the prayer thus, “Hallowed be Thy name, Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come,” because he thought this [Page 66] prayer for God’s kingdom referred to the end of the world and the second advent. But when Jesus teaches us to pray that God’s kingdom may come, He means that we are to pray that God may reign here upon the earth, that men here may acknowledge Him as King, that life here may be regulated by His commands.  This is not a prayer that we may be taken out of earth into heaven, but it is a prayer that heaven may come down to earth, so that earth itself may become heavenly.  It is a prayer for the “new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  It is a prayer for the world’s golden age - a golden age which shall come when there is established here on earth that kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  Have you noticed how in most men’s minds the idea of a “golden age” is associated with the name of some king?  The Israelites associated it with the name of David; the Germans associated it with the name of Frederick Barbarossa; for us British folk a special halo of romance gathers round the time of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.  And as a matter of fact, the world’s good time is inseparably connected with the coming of a King and the establishment of a [millennial] kingdom.  But the kingdom is no [Page 67] earthly royalty, and the King is no David or Barbarossa or Arthur come back to life again. The kingdom is the kingdom of God, and the name of the King is Jesus.  When that Kingdom is established, when that King is enthroned, a better Eden shall be here than the Eden we have lost.  It is the world’s evil time just now.  Earth is full of misery and grief and pain.  Many are the schemes propounded for mending matters, and God knows they need mending.  Each man has his own nostrum, every quack his own panacea; but if we leave God and Christ out of account every plan is doomed to fail.  We shall mend matters only by making God a reality, and the final establishment of right and justice, and joy will come only when He is enthroned as King.  But you may say to me, “Is not God King now?  Is not the world His?  Are not all men in His hands?”  That is perfectly true!  I do not forget that the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.  It is my joy and strength to remember that in spite of all the bluster and brave show made by the forces of evil, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!  But if you will examine the basis of that Kingship you will find it rests on God’s Creatorship.  He is Lord of the world and of [Page 68] men because He has created them - because in Him they live and move and have their being.  But God wants to be King in Jesus Christ - that is to say, He wants to be King in virtue not of His power, but of His love.  He wants men to obey Him not because they are afraid of Him, but because they love Him.  Look at the prayer: Thy kingdom come.”  Whose kingdom is it? Well, it is our Father’s kingdom.  Oh, this is a kingdom of love!  God wants to be King not because He is Creator, but because He is Father.  He wants men to be obedient to Him not under the pressure of force, but under the sweet constraint of love.  God has been King by the title of Creator since the world began; but He is not even yet King by the title of Father.”  He is not even yet King in Jesus Christ.  It is for this kingdom we are to pray; for the time when men shall realise what God’s Fatherhood means, for the time when men’s hearts shall be so touched by God’s love to them in Jesus Christ, that out of pure and grateful affection they will render Him a willing and glad obedience.



Thy kingdom come.”  The prayer, you will notice, regards the “kingdomas something still to be realised.  As yet it is in the future.  In other places in the New Testament [Page 69] it is talked of as actually existent.  Both views are true - the kingdom is both present and future.  You remember that when the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God should come, he observed, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, for lo, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  The Pharisees were treating as future what was already present.  The kingdom of God was already in their midst.  But it was not surprising that the Pharisees failed to discover the presence of the kingdom.  It was a very tiny affair at the time.  Its subjects were only a handful of Galilean peasants.  Our Lord Himself, speaking of the tiny, unnoticed beginning of the kingdom, said it was like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal!  The kingdom is not hidden to-day. The leaven has been working through the centuries.  The presence of the kingdom is the most noticeable fact in the world’s life to-day.  We talk about the great empires of the world!  We talk about the British Empire embracing one-fifth part of the habitable globe: and the great Russian Empire claiming a sixth part of the world; and the German Empire and the French Empire, and the rest of them.  But there is one Empire greater, vaster than any [Page 70] other - the Empire of King Jesus.  It is in our midst, the mightiest kingdom, the most potent force on earth.



And yet, while the kingdom of God is thus present and potent, it is still future.  Its full realisation has yet to come.  So long as there is in this world one man who has not yielded his heart to Christ, so long as there is a single department of life which is not brought into subjection to the law of Christ, so long will the kingdom be unrealised, so long shall we need to pray this prayer, Thy kingdom come.”  All the misery of this world is due to the fact that there are multitudes of men still in rebellion, that there are whole departments of human activity which are not regulated by the spirit of Christ.  The kingdom is still imperfect, incomplete.  Its full establishment lies in the future somewhere.  Until that full establishment takes place, until God is King everywhere and over everybody and everything, the world’s golden age will never come.



What kind of kingdom is this?  It is worth while noticing that the kingdom occupied a large place in the thought and speech of Christ.  His gospel was a gospel of the kingdom.  He announced that He had come to found a kingdom; He claimed the title Kingfor [Page 71] Himself; and in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, He gave us, shall I say, the laws and rules of the kingdom.  Christ was not the first to picture an “Ideal State,” Plato had already done it in his “Republic.”  But Plato’s picture would not satisfy you or me.  It is an impossible, fantastic dream.  Plato’s state, with its philosopher king and its destruction of the family, repels instead of attracting us.  But the kingdom of God which Christ has pictured for us, that gleaming vision of a new earth in which love shall rule, fascinates and enthrals us, and the hope of its realisation becomes the mainspring of all human progress and attainment.  Well, what kind of a kingdom is it? Let me answer in the words of the great Apostle Paul, and say, The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  There you have in one brief sentence the characteristics of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is righteousness, or, in other words, the kingdom of God is justice.  There is cruel wrong in this world of ours, wrong that daily cries up to God for vengeance.  Man wrongs man, brother oppresses brother.  The dark places of the earth are full of cruelty, and places that are usually supposed to be light,” like this favoured England of ours, [Page 72] are full of cruelty also.  Oh, brethren, to see the wrong, the oppression, the wickedness of life, is a maddening sight!  I can understand how men are sometimes driven by it into the blasphemy of despair!  But the kingdom of God is justice - strict, level, even-handed justice.  When His kingdom comes, tyranny, oppression, wrong shall cease; men shall do right out of love for their righteous King.



The kingdom of God is peace.  Peace between men, peace between nations.  All strife and mutual distrust shall be for ever buried, and the noise of war shall be heard no more, but men shall beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Hate and enmity shall die.  The wolf and the lamb shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” saith the Lord.



The kingdom of God is joy.  We are in the winter of our discontent just now.  Life is full of tears and grief and pain.  The tears and the grief and pain spring from the hate and the oppressions and the injustices of life.  But when God is King there shall be justice and peace, and joy will follow as a natural consequence, justice, peace, happiness those are [Page 73] the characteristics of the kingdom of God!  Is not this a kingdom worth praying for?



Now let me go on to ask the question, What is the sphere of the kingdom?  First let me say, the sphere of the kingdom is the individual heart.  When I pray, Thy kingdom come I do not feel that I am praying solely for the work of foreign missions.  I do not think only of the millions of heathen in China or India or Africa.  When I pray Thy kingdom come,” I am not satisfied with adding to the thought of the heathen abroad remembrance of the heathen at home.  No! when I utter that prayer I feel I am praying for myself.  I am praying that God’s kingdom may come in my own heart.  Oh, yes, this prayer has reference to ourselves.  When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we pray “Lord, come into our own hearts; rule there; take the throne there: make us completely thine.”  Thy kingdom come!”  Brethren, do we mean it?  Do we honestly desire it?  For see what it means.  It means that we are asking that every cherished sin and passion may be cast out of our hearts; it means that we desire that neither money nor pleasure nor fame should have any power over us or draw away our love from God.  It means that God’s will and not our own may rule.  [Page 74] Oh, that is a great prayer!  Do we honestly and sincerely mean what we say?  I have known men who loved their sins too much, their pleasures, their money, themselves too much, ever to be able to pray sincerely Thy kingdom come!”  May God give us grace honestly to pray this prayer!  May He make us able and willing to give to His commands a glad and complete obedience?  God’s kingdom must come in our own hearts before it can come in the world at large!  It is only true and loyal subjects of the kingdom who can extend its boundaries and further its interests.  Men will not enter the kingdom, though we preach to them till Doomsday, if we ourselves remain without.  But if God truly reigns in our hearts, and His kingdom begets in us righteousness, peace, and joy, we shall then be able to go forth and win others as loyal subjects to our King.



But in offering this prayer, we must not stop at ourselves.  The prayer embraces the wide world in its sweep. Thy kingdom come!  Where?  Everywhere.  All nations are to bow down before Him, all people are to serve Him.  Men discuss the question sometimes as to which race is likely to become the dominant race in the earth. We people who live in this little island are inclined to believe that this splendid destiny [Page 75] is reserved for the Anglo-Saxon race.  We stand among the nations for the principles of liberty and truth and justice; and as I heard Dr. Clifford say some months ago, we believe that “the momentum of these ideas will carry us to the government of the earth.”  And so far as England does stand for those great ideas, I am not ashamed to confess I am an English Imperialist.  But there is something I am more anxious about even than the dominion of England, and that is the dominion of Christ.  Above everything else I am a Christian Imperialist.  I want to see the banner of the Cross floating over every land.  I want to see every nation acknowledging one and the same King - even Jesus.  I want to see the crown of the world on the brow which bears still the scars of the crown of thorns!  And, brethren I know that all this shall come to pass!  The place of England in the future of the world is, after all, a matter of conjecture.  But there is no conjecture, no doubt, no perhaps about the place of Christ.  He is destined for the throne!  He shall reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet,Thy kingdom come” in my own heart, over all the world, and let me add in every department of life.  When we pray this prayer, we are praying that God may rule in our business [Page 76] life, and our social life, and our political life.  We are asking Him to preside in our Parliaments and our Council Chambers.  We are asking Him to take the government of our markets and our offices and our exchanges.  We are asking Him to be Lord in the realms of art and literature.  What an enormous sweep this prayer has!  And we must not only pray this form of words, but if our prayer is not to be a sham and a pretence, we must toil to realise the kingdom. “Laborare est orare,” says the old Latin proverb: “To labour is to pray.”  At any rate, no one has truly prayed this prayer who does not bend all his energies to the task of seeking to establish this kingdom on earth. England keeps in every important foreign town consuls to look after the interests of English people.  Let me use that to illustrate the duties of Christian people.  We are in this world to look after the interests of God and of His kingdom.  We are His consuls.  You business men, you are in business to look after God’s interests and to promote His kingdom!  You professional men - doctors, lawyers, school-masters, you are in your professions to look after God’s interests and to promote His kingdom!  You politicians, you are in politics to look after God’s interests and to promote His kingdom!  You [Page 77] fathers and mothers in the homes, you are there to look after God’s interests and to promote His kingdom.  You must be Christian business men, Christian lawyers, Christian doctors, Christian teachers, Christian politicians, Christian parents.  Be faithful to your trust!  So live, so labour, that God’s kingdom may come!  No wish or prayer of ours can make the summer come an hour before its time, or stave off by one hour the approach of grim winter, but it does depend upon our prayers and labours whether it shall be soon or late that summer gladness shall come into the souls of men; whether it shall be soon or late that Christ shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.



Let me now proceed to the question, “How is this kingdom to be established? - Let me first say how it cannot.  It cannot be established by force.  Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon built up their empires with the sword, and cemented them with blood, but not so is the kingdom of God to be established.  Men have tried that method; they have used fire and sword to make God’s kingdom come.  Peter had that spirit when he pointed to the two swords the disciples possessed.  Mahomet followed this plan when he gave to men the alternative, either Islam or death.  The Crusaders, spurred on by the [Page 78] burning eloquence of Peter the Hermit, committed the same blunder. The old Saxon and Gothic kings, who when they accepted Christianity themselves compelled their people to be baptised as well, followed the same mistaken method.  But these people did not advance the kingdom of God one whit.  You do not make a man a member of this kingdom by baptising him, or enrolling him among the adherents of a church, or by calling him a Christian.  Men must have their hearts changed, they must be born again.  They must be willing to render glad obedience to their Father King before they become members of this kingdom.  Force may increase the numbers of a sect, it cannot add one to the membership of the kingdom.  The sword may compel a man to change his name it can never compel him to change his heart!  Oh no; it is not by the sword that God’s kingdom will come.  To all ecclesiastical persecutors Christ says, Not by the sword is the kingdom to come, but by the Cross!  Constantine of old, when on the eve of a critical battle, dreamed he saw a cross in the sky, and around it this legend, by this conquer.”  That is the weapon we have to use in our warfare.  That is the weapon whereby [Page 79] God’s kingdom is to be [entered and] established.  We are to conquer by the Cross.”  We are to conquer [suffering for Christ’s sake, and] by the power of love.  For the Cross means love - love at its best, love in the glory of sacrifice.  The Cross is the power of God.  It is by the story of the Cross that men’s hearts are to be broken, and their affection and allegiance won.  By this conquer is the charge given to us.  Preach the Cross!  Exalt the dying Redeemer of men!  When we lift Him up He will draw all men unto Him.



Thy kingdom come.”  It is a prayer to-day; but the time will come when the prayer shall be changed into praise, and we shall be able to say, “Thy kingdom has come!”  It has been coming for eighteen hundred years, and it is not here yet;  but doubt not, despair not, faint not, it SHALL COME.  Men have called the visions such men as Plato and Sir Thomas More have given us of the “Ideal State,” “Utopias,” “Nowheres,” to mark their idea of those visions as fantastic, impractical, impossible.  But let no one dare to call the kingdom of God a Utopia.  Let no one dare to say of the new earth which Christ foretold that it is a vain, an impossible dream. To say that is to deny the faith, and to be guilty of the great Apostasy.  Do you say that the establishment of a kingdom of [Page 80] justice and peace and joy is impossible?  I will tell you nay.  God is pledged to it, and He shall not fail nor be discouraged.  The time is coming when our evil hearts shall be made pure and clean; the time is coming when our life day by day shall be sweet and holy and happy; the time is coming when lying, deceit, and greed and strife, and distrust and shame shall be banished from the earth; the time is coming when asylums and penitentiaries and gaols shall no longer openly proclaim our shame - the time is coming when the drunkard and the profligate and the criminal and the harlot shall be no more, but the people shall be all righteous - a branch of God’s planting, that He may be glorified!  The time is coming when trade and politics and pleasure shall be carried on to the glory of God.  The time is coming when literature and art shall be cleansed of all impure taint, and shall speak of God as the Bible speaks of Him to-day.  The time is coming when China and India and the Dark Continent and the isles of the sea shall place their crowns on the head of Christ.  The time is coming when every idol shall be broken and every superstition destroyed, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  The time is coming when [Page 81] righteousness, peace, and joy shall everywhere prevail, and sin and wrong shall be words whose meaning men no longer understand.  Sursum corda.  Lift up your hearts!  That glorious time is coming!  That glorious day is about to break.  The world is grey with morning light.”  Thy Kingdom come!  It must come; it will come.  Its coming does not depend upon you or me, but upon the risen and exalted Christ.  The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands.”



Break, triumphant day of God,

Break at last, our hearts to cheer;

Throbbing souls and holy songs

Wait to hail thy dawning here.



Empires, temples, sceptres, thrones,

May they all for God be won;

And, in every human heart,

Father, let Thy kingdom come.



*       *       *






Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” - MATTHEW 6: 10.


THE third petition, which is omitted from Luke’s version of the Prayer, springs directly and naturally out of the second petition, and is really explanatory of it.  We have been taught to pray, Thy kingdom come.”  God’s kingdom will come, when His will is done on earth, as it is done in heaven.



The central idea of kingship is that of rule, authority, power.  Kingship is only real and effective when the King commands and the people obey.  In heaven God’s kingship is a reality.  The eyes of all the inhabitants of the better land wait upon God.  Cherubim and Seraphim, saints and angels, delight to do His will.  In heaven, God speaks and it is done.  This third petition is a prayer that men may learn to obey God as the angels do, so that His [Page 83] kingship may be as real and as effective here on earth as it is now in heaven.



Jurists draw a distinction between kings de jure - kings by legal right, and kings de facto - kings in actual possession and exercise of the royal power.  Now God, if I may be allowed to say so, is the world’s King de jure.  He is the world’s lawful Sovereign and rightful Lord.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.”  But God is not [at this present time] King de facto.  His kingship is not effective.  His people do not obey.  There are large sections of the world, whole departments of human activity, where His rule is not recognised.  Ireland is part of the Queen’s dominions; but there have been times when the Queen could scarcely be said to reign in Ireland.  At the time when the Irish troubles were at their height, it was a common saying that in certain districts of Ireland it was not the Queen who ruled, but the Land League.  Cuba was until last year part of the dominions of the King of Spain.  The Spanish flag floated over its arsenals and forts.  It was with the ministers of the King of Spain that all negotiations with reference to Cuba had to be carried on.  Cuban coins and Cuban postage stamps bore the image and superscription of the Spanish [Page 84] sovereign.  But for all that, for the past ten years or so the kingship of Alphonso over Cuba was merely nominal.  Outside Havanna and Santiago Alphonso could not be said to reign.  Not all the armies of Spain could make his kingship real and effective over the rebellious interior.  In much the same way God is the King of the world.  He is its lawful Sovereign.  No one else has a shred of title or claim to an inch of its territory or to the allegiance of one of its inhabitants.  The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He is Governor among the nations.”  But while God is King of the world de jure, He is not [now] King de facto.  His kingship is nominal - not real and effective; for there are parts of the world over which God cannot be said to rule.  There are multitudes of men who are in rebellion against Him, and who refuse to acknowledge His authority.  God’s writs do not run.  His law is not obeyed.  His will is not done.



And here we come across that solemn and awful power which is the prerogative of manhood - the power of resisting the will of God.  Nature obeys God’s will.  The flower that blooms in hedge-side or meadow; the lark that sings its way up to heaven’s gate in the spring sunshine; the rivers that roll towards [Page 85] the sea; the ocean with its regular ebb and flow; the sun and moon and stars observing their seasons and travelling along their appointed orbits - all these are what they are, and do what they do in obedience to God’s will.  The wind is God’s messenger; the thunder His voice; the lightning His sword.  Nature obeys God.  And above, in heaven, the angels and the blest do God’s pleasure.  Thousands at His bidding speed, and post o’er land and ocean without rest.”  Is there any one then who resists God’s will?  Yes, there is one, just one, and that one is man.  In all God’s universe he is the only one who is disobedient.  He is the only one who clenches his fist and says No to God.  He is the only one invested with the terrible power of resisting, thwarting, opposing the will of God.  And that awful power he possesses because he possesses a free and independent will of his own.  God made man, we are told, in His own likeness.  The special feature that marks man off from the brute creation and links him on to the Divine, is his possession of moral freedom.  God is a moral Being. Man, too, is a moral being.  But in order to make man a moral being, God had to limit Himself and make man free.  For there can be no [Page 86] moral quality where there is no freedom.  Nature is unmoral because nature acts under necessity.  Man is not under necessity.  He can either obey or disobey.  He is a moral being because he is free.



Now all the misery of the world is due to the fact that man abused his freedom, that he chose not to obey, but to disobey.  What was the first sin?  An act of disobedience; and that act of disobedience brought in its train a multitude of woes.  I want you to remember that vice is not here by God’s will; lust is not here by God’s will; strife and malice and envy are not here by God’s will; war and bloodshed and slaughter are not here by God’s will; misery and poverty and shame are not here by God’s will.  They are here by man’s will, because man set up his own will in opposition to that of God.  The secret of the world’s unhappiness and sorrow and pain you will find in these familiar words of the General Confession, “We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.”  Selfishness,” as Bishop Westcott says, “lies at the root of all sin.”  Here is the fountain of the world’s woe, that man preferred his own will rather than the will of God.  While man was obedient there was happiness and joy, happiness that lasted.  As John Milton says - [Page 87]



- till disproportioned Sin

Jarr’d against nature’s chime, and with harsh din

Broke the fair music that all creatures made

To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway’d

In perfect diapason, whilst they stood

In first obedience and their state of good.



But from that day, that day of disobedience, the whole creation has been groaning and travailing together in pain until now.  But to discover the fountain of the disease is also to discover the secret of the remedy.  If the world owes its present misery to the fact that man has followed his own will, the world will see its perfect day when man submits his own will to the will of God.  Come and let us return is the prophet’s cry, “let us get back to the old allegiance.”  Come and let us return” is the preacher’s call to-day.  The way to the millennium is along the path of obedience.  When God’s kingship is real and effective, because men everywhere are obedient, the Golden Age will have dawned.  The new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness will be a blessed fact when -



We learn with God to win one will,

To do and to endure.



Thy Will be done!” This petition teaches us that it must be our supreme desire that God [Page 88] may have His way with us.  You will notice, as I pointed out a Sunday or two ago, that this petition comes before the petitions for personal blessing.  It is infinitely more important that God’s will should be done than that we should have the things upon which we have set our hearts.  Thy will be done!”  Do you not feel humbled and reproached by this petition?  I will speak for myself, and say that this petition and its place in the prayer put me to utter shame.  Why, our very prayers are selfish!  A secularist once said with a sneer that “prayer was a machine warranted by theologians to make God do whatsoever His clients want.”  Have not our prayers given some ground for the sneer?  Have not our wants and interests occupied too large a place in our petition? This is the true order in prayer - God first.  This is the petition that must dominate every other, “Thy will be done.”



Let me not be misunderstood.  I am far from saying it is wrong to tell God about our personal wishes and desires.  No! Tell Him everything.  There ought to be no reserve in the conversation between a child and his Father.  I am not afraid or ashamed to tell God about my personal affairs.  I ask Him to preserve me from trouble and loss.  I ask Him to keep me [Page 89] safe from harm and danger.  I ask Him to ward off from me sickness and suffering.  I ask Him to watch over those I love.  But there is another prayer I must learn to pray, another prayer I must learn to pray first - and oh! what a lot of learning it takes - and that prayer is this, Thy will be done.”  For it may be God’s will to send me the very things I shrink from.  He may see that it is the discipline of trouble and loss and sickness that I need.  I am but as a little child, blind and ignorant as a little child, and when I pray for temporal gifts, I may be only praying to my own hurt.  This is the only prayer for me, for you, for all men, Father, Thy will be done.”  We wish for success in life, but because such a success might prove a curse and not a blessing, we must add, Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”  We pray for freedom from bereavement and sorrow, but because such discipline may result in truest blessedness, we add, Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”  We pray for peace and comfort and quietness, but because struggle and conflict may be necessary, in order to make us strong, we add, Nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.”  We have not learned to pray truly at all, until every petition in our prayers is made subject to this one; until it becomes [Page 90] our chief and supreme desire that God’s will may be done.



Will it be hard?  Hard?  I know of nothing harder.  This is the great feat of life.  You can only learn to say Thy will be done through struggle and agony and heartbreak.  This old Book compares the agony through which men must pass before they learn sincerely to pray this prayer, to the agony inflicted by the plucking out of an eye or the cutting off of a limb.  Obedience to God leads to the land of blessedness and peace, but the gate by which we enter - the gate of self-denial - is a narrow gate, and we have to agonise to enter in.  God has a will for each of us, and His will concerning us often clashes with our own.  The desires of the flesh and of the mind hanker after earthly comfort and wealth and ease.  God’s will concerning us is, that whatever the cost and the pain, we should be clean and honest and true.  Scarcely a day passes but our desires and the will of God for us come into violent conflict.  To surrender our own wills, to make God’s will ours, means pain.  It is a dying.  It is a crucifixion.  But there are one or two considerations of which I would like to remind you, which ought to make this surrender easier for us.  This is the first:-


[Page 91]

(1) The will we are asked to make our own is our Father’s will.  Thy will be done!”  Whose will?  Our Father’s will!  After all, it ought not to be very difficult to obey a father’s will, to fulfil a father’s desire, even when that will runs counter to our own, for we know there is love in the case.  Remember, you are not asked to obey a despot; you are not asked to obey a tyrant; you are not asked to obey a slave-driver; you are asked to do the will of your Father - your Father, whose love is only to be measured by the Cross of Jesus Christ.  It was the remembrance that the will He was called upon to obey was His Father’s will, that helped Jesus in the Garden.  It was a hard thing for our Lord to say Thy will be done,” when He knew that involved the Cross and the Grave for Jesus, let me say it with all reverence, had all a man’s feelings, and He shrank from the bitter agony and shame.  He would gladly have escaped the Cross and the Tomb.  If it be possible, let this cup pass.”  Then he remembered it was His Father who was bidding Him drink that bitter cup.  That thought steadied Him, gave Him courage, made Him strong, He was ready for anything and everything that His Father appointed.  The cup which the Father hath given me to drink shall I not drink [Page 92] it?”  We, too, shall be strong to make God’s will our own, when we remember it is our Father’s will.  For our Father is love - love at its best and highest.  Mr. Spurgeon tells a story about a man who had in his garden a weather-cock which had on it this inscription, God is Love.”  A friend seeing it asked if it was meant to imply that God’s love was as fickle as the wind.  No,” was the reply, “I mean that from whatever quarter the wind may happen to blow, God is still love.”  Bear that in mind - God is love; the will you are asked to obey is your Father’s will.  Then, though that will ordain for us sorrow, sickness, pain, loss, we shall have grace to say, Thy will be done.”



The second consideration which I would impress upon you is this:-



(2) God’s will ever seeks our highest good.  What else could any one expect, seeing that it is our Father’s will?  How we who are parents plan and scheme and contrive in order to secure a happy and prosperous future for our children!  In exactly the same way God plans and purposes for us.  He is always thinking upon us for our good.  His will, says the Apostle, is our sanctification.  It is a good and perfect and acceptable will.  The very discipline through which He sometimes calls upon us to [Page 93] pass is meant to build us up in patience [perseverance] and purity and faith.  The boy in school is apt to regard his lessons as a hardship.  He would prefer the field and the sunshine to the schoolroom and the desk.  But in after years he will be thankful he did not get his own way in the days of his youth, for he will recognise then that the hours he spent over his Algebraic problems and his Latin declensions enriched his life by contributing to the culture of his mind.  We are scholars in God’s schools.  The discipline of the school is painful sometimes; but in later years we shall be thankful even for our sorrows and losses and bereavements, when we see how they have enriched our lives by contributing to the culture of our souls.  Yes, it will be easier to embrace God’s will when we realise with the Apostle that all things work together for good to them that love God.



Thy will be done! Notice, God,s will is not simply to be endured or suffered - it is to be DONE.  In our every-day speech we have unduly narrowed the scope and meaning of this petition.  We talk about this petition as if it were a prayer that God would give us the grace of resignation.  It is in times of bereavement that this phrase leaps to the lips of men.  It is upon tombstones that it is inscribed by sorrowing [Page 94] relatives.  Again do not let me be misunderstood.  Suffering God’s will is embraced in the scope of this prayer.  To many of us the hardest part of all is patient submission to the will of God.  The man bereft of wealth, stripped of all his possessions, flung back again into the poverty from which by hard and persistent effort he had emerged, needs grace to say, Thy will be done.”  The man who languishes upon a bed of sickness, who lies there helpless while perhaps wife and children look up to him for bread - he needs grace to say, Thy will be done.”  Those who have parted with some loved one, who have seen father or mother, or husband or wife or child, hidden from them in the dark cold grave, and who come home again to miss the well-loved face and familiar voice - they need grace to say, while their hearts are aching and their eyes are full of tears, Thy will be done.”  Some of you know how hard it is.  You find it impossible almost to say, as Job said, The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Yes, it is hard to be submissive and resigned, and it is out of a broken heart the prayer often ascends, Thy will be done.”



But this prayer is much more than a prayer for the grace of resignation and patient [Page 95] submission.  The petition is not “Help us to suffer thy will but “Help US to DO it.”  This is not a prayer simply for the invalid and the mourner and the bereaved; it is a prayer also for those who are happy and well and strong.  This is not a prayer simply for our times of trouble and our days of deep distress; it is a prayer for all times and every day. It is not every day, nor every month, nor even every year, that we are called upon to suffer God’s will, but not a day, not an hour passes, but we are called upon TO DO it. Do not narrow the scope of this prayer.  You prayed this morning, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?  What did you mean by it?  I will tell you what you ought to have meant by it: “Help me, 0 God, to do what Thou wouldest have me do, to be what Thou wouldest have me.”  That is what the prayer means.  It means that we accept God’s plans and purposes as our own, and resolve to realise them.  You can pray no nobler prayer than this, for in the doing of God’s will lies the secret of the perfect life.  We look at the life of Jesus - so beautiful, so pure, so perfect - and we are lost in wonder and rapture.  But the secret of that life is here: Jesus from the beginning to the close of life was intent on doing God’s will.  He Himself let us into the [Page 96] secret.  I am come,” He said, not to do My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.”  My meat and drink,” He said, on another occasion, is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”  When a boy of twelve He had come to the sublime decision that every moment of His life should be spent in doing His Father’s business.  Do not commit the mistake of thinking that it was only in Gethsemane and the judgment Hall and on Calvary that Christ was doing the will of God.  He was doing it during those silent years at Nazareth.  He was doing it when at school, He was doing it when He was in the carpenter’s shop, mending the tables and chairs and ploughs of the dwellers in Nazareth.  He was doing it when He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom in Galilee.  He was doing it when sharing in the festivities at Cana, and taking part in Matthew’s farewell dinner.  He was doing it when healing the sick and comforting the lonely and lifting up the outcast.  In fact, He was never doing anything else.  Every day, every moment, Jesus was doing the Father’s will, and the result is the only perfect life the world has ever seen.  And so, in our case, the doing of God’s will is not something confined to our times of darkness and sorrow; the doing of God’s will is a daily [Page 97] and hourly endeavour.  God’s will is really done by us only when, to use the Apostle’s words, “whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God.”  Thy will be done on earth,” so runs the petition; the sphere in which God’s will is to be put into effect is this earth of ours - its business life, its public life, its social life, its family life.  The employer is doing God’s will when He treats those in his employment justly and generously. The tradesman is doing God’s will when he buys and sells honestly.  The shop assistant is doing God’s will by being diligent and courteous, and yet withal scrupulously straightforward and true.  The artizan is doing God’s will when he respects his employer’s time, and does every bit of work as well as it can be done.  Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in the home are doing God’s will when they strive to make home happy by their self-forgetfulness and ready helpfulness. “Doing God’s will” means doing everything as we know God would have us do it, making God supreme over every detail of human life.  It means buying and selling, keeping ledgers, serving at the counter, teaching at the desk, toiling in the fields, sitting in the council chamber, casting a vote, taking our pleasure, sharing in social joys, and doing all this for God.  [Page 98] This is what we pray for when we say, Thy will be done.”



Look at the qualifying words that follow: “as in heaven so on earth.”  Heaven supplies the pattern for earth.  I have just two words to say about the way in which God’s will is done in heaven - (1) It is done cheerfully. Saints and angels [will] find their highest joy in doing God’s will.  If earth is to be like heaven in this respect, we must obey God cheerfully.  God wants no grudging service.  Our obedience must be glad, willing, free. God’s will can not be done by us as it is done in heaven, until we can say sincerely, I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God, yea, Thy law is within my heart.”  (2) It is done by ALL.  You will look in vain in the heavenly land for the disobedient and the refractory and the rebellious.  [After the time of Resurrection]*, Heaven is perfectly happy, because all its people are perfect in their obedience.  Before earth can be like heaven, God’s will must be done by ALL.  It is done to-day only by a Few.  There are multitudes who rebel against Him. When these return to their allegiance, the day of God will break.



[* 2 Tim. 2: 17, 18. cf. John 3: 13; 14: 3; 1 Thess. 4: 14-17; Rev. 6: 9-11; 20: 4-6.]



Thy will be done!  This petition calls our attention to the most crying and urgent need of our day, the need of a simpler and more implicit [Page 99] obedience.  It is not more knowledge of God’s will that we want, but grace to put in practice what we know.  What is the use of coming here to-day to hear God’s will declared, if to-morrow in our business life, we deliberately flout and reject it?  I venture to say this, that if to-morrow and the following days we only did what we know our Lord desires us to do, we should revolutionise the life of this town.  And will you suffer me to remind you that it is not to those who make a profession and parade of religion that heaven is promised, but to those who faithfully and loyally obey.  Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.”