Today, October 26, 2021 is Day Three for our granddaughter being married. She feasts with God daily as does her new husband. I am delighted to tell you that they are happy to begin their lives together to give glory to God outside the realm of contention. I witnessed humbleness as spiritual battles showed up in the preparation of the wedding and at it’s clean up. Is there stress at weddings? Of course, but the focus of the entire week is to bring people together to forget the past and move forward…to NEW BEGINNINGS.
And, He Appeared at this wedding. Our Creator found people crying in happiness for this couple as they stood in their Baptist Church packed full of people. Grandmas who only knew of each other for a few weeks found themselves hugging each other crying continually and thinking out loud the same thoughts. Now, that that can hold each other, they will NEVER let go…never never will they let go of what God put together. They felt the struggle of finding each other even going through times of despair once again starting the search for a different mate. At age 23 they knew their search had ended and now both would come in honor to the Wedding Altar. They were pure and had never yet even held hands. Their relationship was not about the flesh, but about their inner souls. If the heart is pure then the marriage will be pure. No living together to ‘make sure’ everything would work out. No, The Father will bless their purity.
The wedding banquet was prepared with an oblong table that sit 44 family members to sit with the bride and groom. There was a large hoopa (canopy) built to run lights from that spread across the entire church gymnasium. The chairs were covered with fabric from a rental store with light large pink bows tied seen on their backs. The plates were held by plate chasers with napkins Mr. and Mrs. on them. The gym floor was cleaned and curtains were hung to cover the wall markings. It is like heaven came down and glory filled it waiting for The Father to present The Bride to the groom.
My tears flowed even at the Rehearsal Diner as The Spirit surrounded this place in peace. The grooms family loved him and the bride’s family loved her. What can I say, but there was NO contention coming from this couple. In fact, before their rehearsal dinner they held up signs on Highway 291 directing people to Jesus as their savior. Yes, it was a perfect couple who now has driven 16 hours to a cabin get away. This new young husband (23) will now love to cherish his new bride that is dedicated to respecting him…as this is the pattern set up in The Bible as Christ is the head of the Church. Israel is our example of a bride and we see that bride pictured in the Wedding Covenant.
So why am I now concerned about contention? Because, those left behind are filled with it. I think several of us cried so much because we’ve seen in our own children and ourselves that wedding day and honeymoon lose it’s glimmer as life marched on. We think about how we dated, and how we married. We want our families to make better choices than we did. And, at the same time, if it had not been for those challenges, we would not be the person we are today. The younger men are taught by the elder and the young woman are to be taught by the older woman who have walked with The Lord.
I am 71 as this very special couple both turned 23 this month. In the quiet of their heart they endure the pains of broken family relationships. Their goals are for healing. I believe the best gift ever to them would be to bring PEACE into both of their families. I have more grandchildren growing to chose their future spouses right now. Their choices must be taken very seriously by us as adults in guiding them. Much heartache can be eliminated if we are patient and respect others guidance in choosing our future mate. I remember by mother coming to me and saying people had come to her to advice me that I was dating a person heading the wrong direction. I did break up with him as I already knew that in my heart. Sin draws us to the cute person who seems like a lot of fun. But, the reality check came in my dating days, as “He’s the marrying kind or She is the ‘marrying’ kind.’
The Christian Church is full of people who claim to love God. Parents visit churches to find those that really DO love God. Youth visit churches to find boy and girl friends. But, even in ‘The Church’ how do you really find, “The Marrying Kind?” And, if you follow The Courting format, how do you back away when things just aren’t what you thought? I don’t propose to have all the answers but I did find an entire study today when I was uploading a program on my new computer called, e-sword. I downloaded bibles, commentaries and dictionaries. The study that I’m posting today, October 26, 2021 is dedicated to my grandchildren. I will share a few of my friends experiences and what personalities to stay away from. And, I do mean to stay away…. There are things about people that only God can change and those things will still be buried deep inside of them unless praying daily to detach from what holds them.
Children of divorced people are very difficult to be able to give love. They are so hurt and feel rejected having been thrown back in forth in life that their emotions are only about protecting themselves. Unless a spiritual mentor comes along and shows them who they really are in Christ and they start that walk early, they will pull back in contention with disputing and anger just a normal part of their speech.
I met a person a few years ago. I was again seeing the personality of blame. The trouble of something breaking in the home became my fault some how. I had a house so nice and that person thought I owed them and should house. The contentious spirit is seen in having others feel sorry for them. Tears flow if they don’t get their way. When we help others we can not always be their answer. Learning patience with our problems is necessary instead of screaming at a friend. Soon there are no friends left.
My friend’s husband passed from a heart attach at age 40. She had met a male person who looked just like her husband at an animal auction the week with her husband. A week later her husband died of a heart attack at his job. This man came into her life wanting a child. He counseled with Christians as to whether they should get married. We politely told him, “NO”. We know of others that advised him ‘No’ as well. She turned it all around to his desires and if one positive thing was said about him he dwelled on that characteristic and said that we had said, ‘Yes’. She already had SEVEN children with two out of the house. He wanted his progeny on the earth through her. It really would have not been a good thing for her older body. I say this quietly to you, that our Creator is always in charge of the womb. She married this narcistic person and her periods immediately stopped. This marriage ended in divorce because of his physical demeaning of her.
There is another case of jealousy that happened when our daughter was dating in college. This boy was very cute. But, she was quite concerned that he had to know exactly where she was all the time. And, he began to blame her for his problems. That relationship ended but not before he stalked her by driving five hours hiding behind our LP tank watching her mow the grass with a halter top on. She quickly changed upon knowing he was there. She was totally upset with his behavior. He fled and then also fled his parents home and could not be found for some time. He showed up after a few weeks but not after the police had been out looking for him. This person needs attention and will never be satisfied in life. I’m glad to say that he is married now and has children.
I could write more as more things have happened lately…but I will keep things private. I believe that this study on Contention is helping me understand the human spirit. I always turn to The Scriptures to find the answer. This study draws on the church at Corinthians. He first praises them for what he saw good in them. That is a good example for us to follow. And yet, in our my first example that ended in divorce, the ‘contentious’ person may only hear what you say is good about them. And, when you say anything at all that is correcting…they major on that and can’t get over it…even if you later call them sweet. I like the the part of this commentary that says, ‘make your words few’.
After being married 51 years, I can tell you life is NOT easy. There are arguments because we are all different. I think it is good to marry an opposite personality because when one is down the other seems to pick the other up. When we have the Holy Spirit involved in both lives, you will feel like you are still on your honeymoon…I’ve been there…and it’s great. We MUST take ourselves out of situations and let go to let God operate in our lives.
Hmm.. Number One…Chose a spirit lead mate. If they have no interest in growing deep in God’s Word…on their own without other nudging them…stay away. Your being ‘set apart’ to God will only irritate them. Then you will be the one that has to stay in your marriage so they can see The Holy Spirit working in you…to win them to God’s Spirit.
The partner you choose may take time to find. It is NOT an embarrassment to say NO right up to that altar and vows. Better to be equally yoked than to live with a contentious woman. Or to live with a man who thinks more highly of himself and tells you that you aren’t even fit to lead children in a bible study.
People are looking for relationships on the internet. I tell you that people can tell you what you want to hear. You will be married to a real person and that comes from getting to know them personally and you should get to know their family. You need to interview their friends and listen to what they think. Don’t go down the road of looks…that can turn into looking into the darkest of places through those angry eyes one day.
I’m thinking I’m writing too close to home but if we don’t deal with the problem of contention, but we will continue to live out sin. I have another young relative of whom this couple have loved each other in high school but he refuse to get marry her. Why? He doesn’t say, but he has said, ” He doesn’t want to end in divorce as his parents did. Wow! We have let contention ruin the covenant of marriage. And, we see young husbands saying, “I won’t let you treat me like you treat your husband.” Yes, we have a generation that is coming on board that say, NO! to contention.” A woman of contention can be found anywhere…BUT who can find The woman of Proverbs 31? That truly is more precious far above any rubies.
Next we will see a biblical study on Contention.
From H1777; a contest or quarrel: – brawling, contention (-ous), discord, strife; a quarrel: figuratively an effort or anxiety: – conflict, contention, fight, race.
The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.1
Chapter. I. — The Salutation. Praise of the Corinthians Before the Breaking Forth of Schism Among Them.
The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us;2 and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.3 For who ever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established?4 Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the command-merits of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind; ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion.
Chap. II. — Praise of the Corinthians Continued.
Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it, (Eph_5:21; 1Pe_5:5) and were more willing to give than to receive. (Act_20:35) Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled5 with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all. Full of holy designs, ye did, with true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence, stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, beseeching Him to be merciful unto you, if ye had been guilty of any involuntary transgression. Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood, (1Pe_2:17) that the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience.
6 Ye were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. Ye mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own. Ye never grudged any act of kindness, being “ready to every good work.” (Tit_3:1) Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, ye did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts. (Pro_7:3)
Chap. III. — The Sad State of the Corinthian Church After Sedition Arose in it from Envy and Emulation.
Every kind of honour and happiness7 was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, “My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.” (Deu_32:15) Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honoured, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith,8 neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian,9 but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world. (Wis. 2:24)
Chap. IV. — Many Evils Have Already Flowed from This Source in Ancient Times.
For thus it is written: “And it came to pass after certain days, that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God; and Abel also brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of the fat thereof. And God had respect to Abel and to his offerings, but Cain and his sacrifices He did not regard. And Cain was deeply grieved, and his countenance fell. And God said to Cain, Why art thou grieved, and why is try countenance fallen? If thou offerest rightly, but dost not divide rightly, hast thou not sinned? Be at peace: thine offering returns to thyself, and thou shalt again possess it. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go into the field. And it came to pass, while they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”10 Ye see, brethren, how envy and jealousy led to the murder of a brother. Through envy, also, our father Jacob fled from the face of Esau his brother. (Gen_27:41, etc.) Envy made Joseph be persecuted unto death, and to come into bondage. (Gen_37:1-36) Envy compelled Moses to flee from the face of Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he heard these words from his fellow-countryman, “Who made thee a judge or a ruler over us? wilt thou kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian yesterday?” (Exo_2:14) On account of envy, Aaron and Miriam had to make their abode without the camp.11 Envy brought down Dathan and Abiram alive to Hades, through the sedition which they excited against God’s servant Moses. (Num_16:33) Through envy, David underwent the hatred not only of foreigners, but was also persecuted by Saul king of Israel. (1Ki_18:8, etc.)
Chap. V. — No Less Evils Have Arisen from the Same Source in the Most Recent Times. The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul.
But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes.12 Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death.13 Let us set before our eyes the illustrious14 apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity,15 compelled16 to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,17 and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.18 Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
Chap. VI. — Continuation. Several Other Martyrs.
To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids19 and Dircae, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with stedfastness,20 and though weak in body, received a noble reward.
Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen_2:23)
Envy and strife have overthrown great cities and rooted up mighty nations.
Chap. VII. — An Exhortation to Repentance.
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God,21 which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.
Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. (Gen_7:1-24; 1Pe_3:20; 2Pe_2:5)
Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; (Jon_3:1-10) but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.
Chap. VIII. — Continuation Respecting Repentance.
The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;” (Eze_33:11) adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent O house of Israel, of your iniquity. (Eze_18:11) Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, I and though they be redder (Comp. Isa_1:18) than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy22 people.” And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.” (
Isa_1:16-20) Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].
Chap. IX. — Examples of the Saints.
Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours,23 and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us stedfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to His excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him.24 Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals which, with one accord, entered into the ark.
Chap. X. — Continuation of the Above.
Abraham, styled “the friend,” (Isa_41:8; 2Ch_20:7; Judith 8:19; Jas_2:23) was found faithful, inasmuch as he rendered obedience to the words of God. He, in the exercise of obedience, went out from his own country, and from his kindred, and from his father’s house, in order that, by forsaking a small territory, and a weak family, and an insignificant house, he might inherit the promises of God. For God said to him, “Get thee out from thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shall be blessed. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen_12:1-3) And again, on his departing from Lot, God said to him. “Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou now art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, [so that] if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” (Gen_13:14-16) And again [the Scripture] saith, “God brought forth Abram, and spake unto him, Look up now to heaven, and count the stars if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be. And Abram believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” (Gen_15:5-6; Rom_4:3) On account of his faith and hospitality, a son was given him in his old age; and in the exercise of obedience, he offered him as a sacrifice to God on one of the mountains which He showed him. (Gen_21:22; Heb_11:17)
Chap. XI. — Continuation. Lot.
On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment and torture. (Gen_19:1-38; comp. 2Pe_2:6-9) For Lot’s wife, who went forth with him, being of a different mind from himself and not continuing in agreement with him [as to the command which had been given them], was made an example of, so as to be a pillar of salt unto this day.25 This was done that all might know that those who are of a double mind, and who distrust the power of God, bring down judgment on themselves26 and become a sign to all succeeding generations.
Chap. XII. — The Rewards of Faith and Hospitality. Rahab.
On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. For when spies were sent by Joshua, the son of Nun, to Jericho, the king of the country ascertained that they were come to spy out their land, and sent men to seize them, in order that, when taken, they might be put to death. But the hospitable Rahab receiving them, concealed them on the roof of her house under some stalks of flax. And when the men sent by the king arrived and said “There came men unto thee who are to spy out our land; bring them forth, for so the king commands,” she answered them, “The two men whom ye seek came unto me, but quickly departed again and are gone,” thus not discovering the spies to them. Then she said to the men, “I know assuredly that the Lord your God hath given you this city, for the fear and dread of you have fallen on its inhabitants. When therefore ye shall have taken it, keep ye me and the house of my father in safety.” And they said to her, “It shall be as thou hast spoken to us. As soon, therefore, as thou knowest that we are at hand, thou shall gather all thy family under thy roof, and they shall be preserved, but all that. are found outside of thy dwelling shall perish.” (Jos_2:1-24; Heb_11:31) Moreover, they gave her a sign to this effect, that she should hang forth from her house a scarlet thread. And thus they made it manifest that redemption should flow through the blood of the Lord to all them that believe and hope in God.27 Ye see, beloved, that there was not only faith, but prophecy, in this woman.
Chap. XIII. — An Exhortation to Humility.
Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit saith, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man Story in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness” [Jer_9:23-24; 1Co_1:31; 2Co_10:17]), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: “Be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.” (Comp. Mat_6:12-15, Mat_7:2; Luk_6:36-38) By this precept and by these rules let us stablish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word saith, “On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembleth at My words?” (Isa_66:2)
Chap. XIV. — We Should Obey God Rather Than the Authors of Sedition.
It is right and holy therefore, men and brethren, rather to obey God than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclinations of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. Let us be kind one to another after the pattern of the tender mercy and benignity of our Creator. For it is written, “The kind-hearted shall inhabit the land, and the guiltless shall be left upon it, but transgressors shall be destroyed from off the face of it.” (Pro_2:21-22) And again [the Scripture] saith, “I saw the ungodly highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Lebanon: I passed by, and, behold, he was not; and I diligently sought his place, and could not find it. Preserve innocence, and look on equity: for there shall be a remnant to the peaceful man.”28
Chap. XV. — We Must Adhere to Those Who Cultivate Peace, Not to Those Who Merely Pretend to Do So.
Let us cleave, therefore, to those who cultivate peace with godliness, and not to those who hypocritically profess to desire it. For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isa_29:13; Mat_15:8; Mar_7:6) And again: “They bless with their mouth, but curse with their heart.” (Psa_62:4) And again it saith, “They loved Him with their mouth, and lied to Him with their tongue; but their heart was not right with Him, neither were they faithful in His covenant.” (Psa_78:36-37) “Let the deceitful lips become silent,” (Psa_31:18) [and “let the Lord destroy all the lying lips,29] and the boastful tongue of those who have said, Let us magnify our tongue; our lips are our own; who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, and for the sighing of the needy, will I now arise, saith the Lord: I will place him in safety; I will deal confidently with him.” (Psa_12:3-5)
Chap. XVI. — Christ as an Example of Humility.
For Christ is of those who are humble-minded, and not of those who exalt themselves over His flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition, as the Holy Spirit had declared regarding Him. For He says, “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have declared [our message] in His presence: He is, as it were, a child, and like a root in thirsty ground; He has no form nor glory, yea, we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was without eminence, yea, deficient in comparison with the [ordinary] form of men. He is a man exposed to stripes and suffering, anti acquainted with the endurance of grief: for His countenance was turned away; He was despised, and not esteemed. He bears our iniquities, and is in sorrow for our sakes; yet we supposed that [on His own account] He was exposed to labour, and stripes, and affliction. But He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; [every] man has wandered in his own way; and the Lord has delivered Him up for our sins, while He in the midst of His sufferings openeth not His mouth. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before her shearer is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away; who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. For the transgressions of my people was He brought down to death. And I will give the wicked for His sepulchre, and the rich for His death,
30 because He did no iniquity, neither was guile found in His mouth. And the Lord is pleased to purify Him by stripes.31 If ye make32 an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. And the Lord is pleased to relieve Him of the affliction of His soul, to show Him light, and to form Him with understanding,33 to justify the Just One who ministereth well to many; and the Himself shall carry their sins. On this account He shall inherit many, and shall divide the spoil of the strong; because His soul was delivered to death, and He was reckoned among the transgressors, and He bare the sins of many, and for their sins was He delivered.”34 And again He saith, “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All that see Me have derided Me; they have spoken with their lips; they have wagged their head, [saying] He hoped in God, let Him deliver Him, let Him save Him, since He delighteth in Him.” (Psa_22:6-8) Ye see, beloved, what is the example which has been given us; for if the Lord thus humbled Himself, what shall we do who have through Him come under the yoke of His grace?
Chap. XVII. — The Saints as Examples of Humility.
Let us be imitators also of those who in goat-skins and sheep-skins (Heb_11:37) went about proclaiming the coming of Christ; I mean Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel among the prophets, with those others to whom a like testimony is borne [in Scripture]. Abraham was specially honoured, and was called the friend of God; yet he, earnestly regarding the glory of God, humbly declared, “I am but dust and ashes.” (Gen_18:27) Moreover, it is thus written of Job, “Job was a righteous man, and blameless, truthful, God-fearing, and one that kept himself from all evil.” (Job_1:1) But bringing an accusation against himself, he said, “No man is free from defilement, even if his life be but of one day.” (Job_14:4-5, LXX) Moses was called faithful in all God’s house; (Num_7:7; Heb_3:2) and through his instrumentality, God punished Egypt35 with plagues and tortures. Yet he, though thus greatly honoured, did not adopt lofty language, but said, when the divine oracle came to him out of the bush, “Who am I, that Thou sendest me? I am a man of a feeble voice and a slow tongue.” (Exo_3:11, Exo_4:10) And again he said, “I am but as the smoke of a pot.”36
Chap. XVIII. — David as an Example of Humility.
But what shall we say concerning David, to whom such testimony was borne, and of whom37 God said, “I have found a man after Mine own heart, David the son of Jesse; and in everlasting mercy have I anointed him?” (Psa_89:21) Yet this very man saith to God, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out my transgression. Wash me still more from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned, and done that which was evil in Thy sight; that Thou mayest be justified in Thy sayings, and mayest overcome when Thou38 art judged. For, behold, I was conceived in transgressions, and in my sins did my mother conceive me. For, behold, Thou hast loved truth; the secret and hidden things of wisdom hast Thou shown me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; my bones, which have been humbled, shall exult. Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.39 Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and establish me by Thy governing Spirit. I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall be converted unto Thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness,40 O God, the God of my salvation: my tongue shall exult in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my mouth, and my lips shall show forth Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it; Thou wilt not delight in burnt-offerings. The sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a bruised spirit; a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.” (Psa_51:1-17)
Chap. XIX. — Imitating These Examples, Let Us Seek After Peace.
Thus the humility and godly submission of so great and illustrious men have rendered not only us, but also all the generations before us, better; even as many as have received His oracles in fear and truth. Wherefore, having so many great and glorious examples set before us, let us turn again to the practice of that peace which from the beginning was the mark set before us;41 and let us look stedfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe, and cleave to His mighty and surpassingly great gifts and benefactions, of peace. Let us contemplate Him with our understanding, and look with the eyes of our soul to His long-suffering will. Let us reflect how free from wrath He is towards all His creation.
Chap. XX. — The Peace and Harmony of the Universe.
The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed. The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws. The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins,42 never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded. For He said, “Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee.” (Job_38:11) The ocean, impassible to man, and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters43 fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.
Chap. XXI. — Let Us Obey God, and Not the Authors of Sedition.
Take heed, beloved, lest His many kindnesses lead to the condemnation of us all. [For thus it must be] unless we walk worthy of Him, and with one mind do those things which are good and well-pleasing in His sight. For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “The Spirit of the Lord is a candle searching the secret parts of the belly.” (Pro_20:27) Let us reflect how near He is, and that none of the thoughts or reasonings in which we engage are hid from Him. It is right, therefore, that we should not leave the post which His will has assigned us. Let us rather offend those men who are foolish, and inconsiderate, and lifted up, and who glory in the pride of their speech, than [offend] God. Let us reverence the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was given for us; let us esteem those who have the rule over us; (Comp. Heb_13:17; 1Th_5:12-13) let us honour the aged44 among us; let us train up the young men in the fear of God; let us direct our wives to that which is good. Let them exhibit the lovely habit of purity [in all their conduct]; let them show forth the sincere disposition of meekness; let them make manifest the command which they have of their tongue, by their manner45 of speaking; let them display their love, not by preferring (Comp. 1Ti_5:21) one to another, but by showing equal affection to all that piously fear God. Let your children be partakers of true Christian training; let them learn of how great avail humility is with God — how much the spirit of pure affection can prevail with Him — how excellent and great His fear is, and how it saves all those who walk in46 it with a pure mind. For He is a Searcher of the thoughts and desires [of the heart]: His breath is in us; and when He pleases, He will take it away.
Chap. XXII. — These Exhortations Are Confirmed by the Christian Faith, Which Proclaims the Misery of Sinful Conduct.
Now the faith which is in Christ confirms all these [admonitions]. For He Himself by the Holy Ghost thus addresses us: “Come, ye children, hearken unto Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth to see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are [open] unto their prayers. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles.” (Psa_34:11-17) “Many are the stripes [appointed for] the wicked; but mercy shall compass those about who hope in the Lord.” (Psa_32:10)
Chap. XXIII. — Be Humble, and Believe That Christ Will Come Again.
The all-merciful and beneficent Father has bowels [of compassion] towards those that fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind. Wherefore let us not be double-minded; neither let our soul be lifted47 up on account of His exceedingly great and glorious gifts. Far from us be that which is written, “Wretched are they who are of a double mind, and of a doubting heart; who say, These things we have heard even in the times of our fathers; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us..”
48 Ye foolish ones! compare yourselves to a tree: take [for instance] the vine. First of all, it sheds its leaves, then it buds, next it puts forth leaves, and then it flowers; after that comes the sour grape, and then follows the ripened fruit. Ye perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, “Speedily will He come, and will not tarry;” (Hab_2:3; Heb_10:37) and, “The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom ye look.” (Mal_3:1)
Chap. XXIV. — God Continually Shows Us in Nature That there Will Be a Resurrection.
Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits (Comp. 1Co_15:20; Col_1:18) by raising Him from the dead. Let us contemplate, beloved, the resurrection which is at all times taking place. Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on. Let us behold the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower (Comp. Luk_8:5) goes forth, and casts it into the ground; and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit.
Chap. XXV. — The Phoenix an Emblem of Our Resurrection.
Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.49
Chap. XXVI. — We Shall Rise Again, Then, as the Scripture also Testifies.
Do we then deem it any great and wonderful thing for the Maker of all things to raise up again those that have piously served Him in the assurance of a good faith, when even by a bird He shows us the mightiness of His power to fulfil His promise?50 For [the Scripture] saith in a certain place, “Thou shalt raise me up, and I shall confess unto Thee; “51 and again, “I laid me down, and slept; I awaked, because Thou art with me;” (Comp. Psa_3:6) and again, Job says, “Thou shalt raise up this flesh of mine, which has suffered all these things.” (Job_19:25-26)
Chap. XXVII. — In the Hope of the Resurrection, Let Us Cleave to the Omnipotent and Omniscient God.
Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God, except to lie. (Comp. Tit_1:2; Heb_6:18) Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us, and let us consider that all things are nigh unto Him. By the word of His might52 He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. “Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or, Who shall resist the power of His strength?” (Wis. 12:12, Wis. 11:22) When and as He pleases He will do all things, and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away. (Comp. Mat_24:35) All things are open before Him, and nothing can be hidden from His counsel. “The heavens53 declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. And there are no words or speeches of which the voices are not heard.” (Psa_19:1-3)
Chap. XXVIII. — God Sees All Things: Therefore Let Us Avoid Transgression.
Since then all things are seen and heard [by God], let us fear Him, and forsake those wicked works which proceed from evil desires;54 so that, through His mercy, we may be protected from the judgments to come. For whither can any of us flee from His mighty hand? Or what world will receive any of those who run away from Him? For the Scripture saith in a certain place, “Whither shall I go, and where shall I be hid from Thy presence? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I go away even to the uttermost parts of the earth, there is Thy right hand; if I make my bed in the abyss, there is Thy Spirit.” (Psa_139:7-10) Whither, then, shall any one go, or where shall he escape from Him who comprehends all things?
Chap. XXIX. — Let Us also Draw Near to God in Purity of Heart.
Let us then draw near to Him with holiness of spirit, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, loving our gracious and merciful Father, who has made us partakers in the blessings of His elect.55 For thus it is written, “When the Most High divided the nations, when He scattered56 the sons of Adam, He fixed the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. His people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of His inheritance.” (Deu_32:8-9) And in another place [the Scripture] saith, “Behold, the Lord taketh unto Himself a nation out of the midst of the nations, as a man takes the first-fruits of his threshing-floor; and from that nation shall come forth the Most Holy.57
Chap. XXX. — Let Us Do Those Things That Please God, and Flee from Those He Hates, That We May Be Blessed.
Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,58 all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith [the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” (Pro_3:34; Jas_4:6; 1Pe_5:5) Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.”59 Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.