Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
Satan and wicked men would undo the righteous, were it not that God exercises His secretiveness on their behalf. He has hidden the righteous in' His secret place (Ps. 91: 1), "in the secret of His pavilion," just to protect them from the snare of the fowler, Satan, and the noisesome pestilence. Psalm 91 is a most beautiful description of how God uses His secretiveness to protect them from all disadvantages and to work for them His advantages. Therefore God has so composed the Bible that Satan and the wicked can learn to understand it only as they hear the saints expound it. And this knowledge they always pervert, and that with fell intent to injure the righteous. E.g., Satan, not understanding the Bible plan, listened to Christ and the Apostles expound it, until he thus learned its general features. On the basis of what he heard them say he made a counterfeit of it in the papacy. In this counterfeit he palmed off' the pope, a head, and his hierarchy, a body, as the counterfeit of Jesus, the Head, and the Church, His Body. Every Biblical doctrine, prophecy, promise and type, and practically every Biblical precept, history and exhortation, he counterfeited in the papacy, and palmed off on the world as of God. The Biblical practices, times and seasons, he also counterfeited in the papacy. This truly dreadful counterfeit he used to enslave the bulk of the human family in error and superstition and to persecute with extreme cruelty the saints of the living God. Having to deal with such a resourceful enemy, who He knew would pervert and seek to thwart God's plan, no wonder that Jehovah used His secretiveness to protect His plan and people from disadvantage, and to secure advantages to them.
The result of Jehovah's exercising such secretiveness in the revelation and outworking of His plan has been the successful execution of all its features in harmony with his foreordained methods as due; and from this we may well infer that its future features
will be successfully carried out. His secret work during the order of affairs among men before the flood inured to test the race in Adam and the angels in place of rulership, and thereby to demonstrate that angels could not lift the race up from its fallen condition. During the Patriarchal Age God's secret work effected the revelation of His great covenant with Abraham and his seed, and also the selection of part of the Ancient Worthies. His secretiveness enabled Him to select a nation—Fleshly Israel—for His dealings and other purposes, and He succeeded in this. His secretiveness worked in a climax in the successful winning of the Christ class from the world during the Gospel Age, as it will also win the complete Great Company and the Youthful Worthies in due time. Then in the Millennial work toward fallen angels and men will appear in part the profit that His secretiveness, working out the elective features of His plan, will achieve by the use that He will make of the four elect classes for turning the fallen angels and men to Him. Yea, in the Ages to come, Age on Age will tell of the marvelous result of the secret working of Jehovah on the four elect classes; for these with the angels in their various orders will be Jehovah's agents in developing the various planets of the worlds about us and filling each of them with new orders of beings. It will then be glory to God and the Lamb—to God, in part because His secretiveness wrought out the Christ class and its associates with this marvelous purpose in view.
God's ninth lower primary attribute of character is providence, which acts through His love for possessing— both in its gaining and retaining aspects. By God's attribute of providence we mean that quality whereby He gains and retains possessions, with which He supplies His coming needs as to the universe and its creatures and carries out His purposes. We speak of a man as provident who by his work
gains, and by his economy retains, possessions in order to have them to use for his future needs and purposes. In a similar way God is provident. When we speak of His coming needs, we are not to understand personal needs; for such He does not have. But by His needs we mean the necessities of His plan and people. There are many needs that God's plan has in the way of agents, instruments, arrangements, spheres, etc., of operation. So do His people in their relation to His plan have many needs—they need mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, instruction, sanctification, deliverance, etc. It is the providing quality in God that makes Him gain and retain the things necessary to supply such needs. That He does supply them is certainly a Scriptural thought. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches [abundant possessions] in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4: 19). This abundantly satisfies us.
Let us notice how God acquired and stored up such riches. The Truth that we need for our instruction He drew out of the well-spring of His own heart and mind, and stored it up in the Bible for our use. The righteousness, a supply of which we need, He acquired by making the Logos—the Word—human, and inducing Him by the promises of the Divine nature to sacrifice His righteous humanity, so that His human righteousness might be available for us in an imputative way; and He stored it up as a deposit on our behalf; and thus His providence has and uses what we need to supply our necessities in the way of righteousness. How did He gain and retain the means needed for our sanctification? These are His Word, Spirit and our surroundings, circumstances, etc. Thus He arranged in His plan for an opportunity of co-suffering and co-reigning with Christ on behalf of those who in faith would consecrate themselves to Him under the call of the Gospel Age, and who would prove faithful to death. He stored up His
Word in the Bible so that it would become the power of God working in them (Rom. 1: 16). Then when they were ready He used it to give them the enlightenment and stimulation necessary to work in them a consecrating faith and love whereby they gave themselves without reserve to God. He impregnated that Word with His Spirit—the Divine energy—which He also stored up for this purpose, whereby He begat them of the Spirit: gave a spiritual power to every faculty of their hearts and minds, adapting these to spiritual objects, whereas before such begettal these were adapted to certain objects, only from the natural human standpoint. Thus He began to supply our needs as to sanctification. But in sanctification we have more needs. We need advancing Truth for each new experience. This He acquired in making His plan, and then stored it in the Bible, which is a storehouse for all our need of Truth and its Spirit, even to the end of the way. Then we need power that will enable us to develop every feature of a Christlike character. This power He acquired by the use of His power and stored it, too, in His Word, and by it He enables us to grow in heavenly affections and in the graces of Christ. For the various experiences of our lives He takes from His bounteous store such parts of the Word and of the Spirit as we need and bestows them upon us, and thus His providence supplies these and satisfies our need.
We also need opportunities of demonstrating devotion to our Heavenly Father's cause. This He has also made provision for. By permitting evil in the world He acquired a condition for His cause that calls for our sacrifices in order to its furtherance. These conditions He reserved as a store, supplying us opportunities of service. He puts us in such places where there is need for our declaring His Word to the world or to the brethren, or to assist others to do it. Some of these opportunities call for our personal
declaration of the Truth by word of mouth, others by the printed page, others by letter, while still others call for us to do these things through our brethren. Thus His providence through the permission of evil has made for our needs as to service the opportunities, that if embraced, give us the chance to demonstrate our devotion to God's cause. In arranging for deliverance for us God has used His quality of providence. This He accomplishes by giving us opportunities amid tests to demonstrate loyalty to His character in an exercise of its graces amid trialsome conditions. He has acquired such conditions by allowing us to have fallen flesh with selfish, worldly, sinful and erroneous propensities. Furthermore, He has permitted the fallen angels and fallen men to be in a condition and to do things which very sorely test our devotion to God's character as a character whose likeness we are to attain. Thus we see that God acquired, in these conditions that He permits, a wealth of things for the testing of a Christlike character in us, in order to work deliverance for us, i.e., victory in all the conflicts incidental to the Christian warfare and final victory as a result of these victorious conflicts in delivering us from death in the glorious first resurrection. How marvelously has God's love for gaining and retaining acted toward us in the providence that acquires and stores up against future needs. These same things under altered conditions will be manifested toward the world in the Millennium, as they have been toward the other three elect classes; but we will not discuss them further.
There is another remarkable way that God's love for acquiring and storing up for future needs has manifested itself—in acquiring all creation as His own, particularly the various orders of angels, the Christ class, the other three elect classes and the world in the Millennium, and not only so, but in the Ages to come the perfected planets and their perfect inhabitants
in ever increasing additions. When we look at the various features of His plan as respects the Church and the world, we see that they result in God's acquiring sons on various planes of being. Some may say that God must be very avaricious to be gaining and retaining on such a colossal scale. We answer, No; for He does all this gaining and retaining in order to bless. He doubtless has pleasure in such gaining and retaining, but that pleasure instead of being a selfish one is a benevolent one; for it is all to the intent that He may, in harmony with good principles, bless and make happy all the larger number of beings. What a noble use God makes of His acquiring and retaining faculty! How beautiful and noble, therefore, is the grace that this faculty of His exercises—providence! And how it should move us to love and adore and praise Him all the more, especially giving Him the highest form of praise in this particular, viz., in cultivating a similar kind of providence—one that gains and retains good things, not for self-aggrandizement, but to bless and ennoble.
We have so far studied nine of God's lower primary attributes of character. Those of this class of Divine attributes so far studied belong to the lower selfish, as distinct from the lower social primary attributes of character. We have shown that man has twelve lower primary selfish affections—nine of them corresponding to the nine in God so far studied, the other three being love for food, love for knowledge and love for making oneself agreeable to others. God has no affection organ corresponding to love for food as we use that word in its natural sense; for love for natural food is implanted in natural beings to incite them to take nourishment to replace the depleted cells of the body by cell matter gotten from natural food. Such food implies that its partaker has a corruptible body, whose wasted cells must be replaced by other cells derived from the food that one digests and assimilates; but
God has an incorruptible and immortal body (Rom. 1: 23; 1 Tim. 1: 17; 6: 16). Therefore there is no cell wastage in His body, and thus no need of food to supply cells to replace such wastage.
We speak spiritually when we talk of our partaking of God's Word, as of our eating it (Jer. 15: 16, 1 Pet. 2: 2; Heb. 5: 11-14; 6: 5; Rev. 10: 8-10). It is the food on which our spirits—new creatures—feed. From it we gain nourishment for our spiritual hearts and minds; and by it we spiritually grow and gain strength. Thus it also supplies spiritual lacks and wastage. But we cannot speak of God as using His words or thoughts to supply spiritual wastes or lacks; for He has none of these. Therefore there is, so far as we know, nothing in God that corresponds to our need of natural and spiritual food. So far as we can discern, God is the only being in the universe who needs no spiritual food; and this is due to His omniscience. Christ now, and the Little Flock beyond the vail, will not need it in order to their replacing lost knowledge or to their strengthening in character; for they will never forget anything and their characters will be forever unbreakably strong. But they will need the revelations of new things from God in order to know what and how to do in the future works of creation, as the Ages roll on in endless succession. Such knowledge with reference to the Millennial arrangements is part of the blessings implied in the term, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19: 9). Here we note that the figure of eating is implied in the language, the marriage supper; but the only lack that its knowledge part will supply is of new intelligence. There will be no character lack, nor forgotten knowledge, supplied by that supper. God's intuitive and universal knowledge of things precludes such a lack in Him. Hence we cannot speak of God's even having a longing for spiritual food, and therefore cannot discuss appetitiveness as a lower primary grace in God.
God has the affection-organs in which love for knowledge lies; but He does not love any knowledge as a thing that He longs for, and does not have; for He has all knowledge, has always had all knowledge and will always have all knowledge. His store of knowledge is infinite. It can neither be increased, nor diminished. And His love for it consists not in a longing for and a delight to attain it, but in a delight in its possession, as an excellent, good and valuable thing in itself and in its uses. He does not have to study to gain it. It, and all of it, is His intuitively and has been and will always be His intuitively. Our love for knowledge makes us studious; and studiousness is a lower primary grace in us; but God does not have this quality, because He does not study, not needing to do so, for the reason that without study, i.e., intuitively, He has known and does and will know all things. It is for this reason that we classed and treated of omniscience as an attribute of God's being (Chapter II). Thus we see that two of our lower primary graces, appetitiveness and studiousness, God does not have; the first because of the incorruptibility and immortality of His body, and the second because omniscience is in God an attribute of being, not of character. His love for true knowledge—the Truth—is, however, an activity of His character, for it is the first feature or element of His disinterested love, and as such we have treated of it when discussing His love (Chapter III). Hence we cannot treat of studiousness as a lower primary attribute in God.
In our enumerating the lower selfish affections, we just noted that as the eleventh we gave: love for knowledge, which produces intelligence, a lower primary grace. Hence the above remarks on studiousness. Love for work has not a single affection-organ through which it might operate. It results in part from other qualities seizing our affection-organ of love for ease and suppressing its efforts to control us, and this
produces as a result a secondary grace—industriousness. Hence its producing qualities need not be those of our lower affection-organs. Working properly such qualities would usually be the higher primary graces. We therefore see that love for work does not belong in the list of the selfish affections.
There is, therefore, but one other lower selfish affection in God that we will consider—love for making Himself agreeable. Its being a love to make self agreeable to others in part induces us to class it among the lower selfish affections. We would not insist as a matter of doctrine that this is a lower selfish affection. In some respects, when properly working, it is quite unselfish, and its place in the head is not adjacent to any selfish affection-organ. It is more of a general affection than a selfish affection; but because self is involved in it and it uses the selfish affections in activity and suppression probably more than it does any others, we have, from other apt considerations also, put it among the selfish affections, though in its nature it is not a selfish sentiment. We cannot place it among the higher affections; nor can we place it among the artistic affections, like love of oratory, of acting, of the beautiful, of the sublime and of the humorous; nor can we place it among the intellectual affections. In some respects it fits very well among the lower social affections, and in other respects among the lower selfish affections. We are discussing it at the end of all the lower selfish graces, and before the lower social affections, designedly, because it very much belongs to both of them. It is either to be classed as an affection by itself alone, or to be classed as belonging to both the selfish and social affections, with a leaning toward the former—hence our classification of it. But if one might think otherwise and place it among the social affections, we will not at all be disposed to dispute with him for so doing; for much can be said in favor of such a classification. These facts move some
to count it a general affection by itself alone, and not belonging to any group, but acting through all of them. This view has probably more in its favor than the other two, and for this reason we will treat of it as a figurative bridge between the lower selfish and the lower social affections. But the question of classification is not essential to our understanding of its nature, office and effects in God.
The affection-organ through which love of making oneself pleasing to others works, develops by exercise agreeableness as its lower primary grace. By this we do not mean the quality that makes people agree in everything with others; for such a quality is hardly a grace; at least it is not usually so; rather it is often a dis-grace. It shows that its possessor lacks independence of thought, feeling and will. It proves that he is servile and unmanly, lacking in courage and decision, as well as in independence. We think of such as echoes. In religion they are the priest-ridden, in politics the bossed, in labor the enslaved, in business the ciphered, in state the bound, and in family the hen-pecked, or roosterpecked—in a word, these are Crusoe's man, Friday. By agreeableness as a lower primary grace we mean the quality whereby one makes himself pleasing to others. His words, looks, acts and manner please. He is winsome. He readily insinuates himself into the good graces of others. They think him pleasant, delight in his society and feel at ease with him. They readily lend themselves to be persuaded by him. His bland conduct soothes those with whom he comes in contact. Where others excite, anger, enrage, disgust and sadden, he calms, composes, pacifies, conciliates and delights. He knows what to avoid as working for disagreeableness; he knows what to use as making for agreeableness. So peculiarly winning is he that he even fascinates and gains over opponents to himself. He knows how to speak so as to take the sting out of disagreeable things that he
must at times utter; and often endears himself to a wrongdoer by the pleasant way that he administers a needed correction. He is a benediction to the mourners and troubled, and makes loyal friends of those even who are not naturally disposed to friendship. The quality that acts in this way is the one that we mean by agreeableness; and when it is controlled by the higher primary graces it is one of the most useful of the lower primary graces, especially in contact with our associates, friends and neighbors.
God in a pre-eminent way has this quality. He lacks those qualities that make for disagreeableness and has in perfection those that make for agreeableness. He is not contentious. Where in the Bible or out of it do we find Him so? Everywhere He expresses His thoughts long-sufferingly and peacefully. He is not disputatious. We search the Scriptures and history in vain to find Him disputatious. Without disputing He sets forth reasonably His mind on the subjects that He discusses. Never does He revile His opponents, though He does at times say uncomplimentary things of them; but He tells disagreeable truths as mildly as can be done. Did He oppose Pharaoh? It was without bitterness, ridicule or vituperation. Did He send His messengers to proclaim the flood in Noah's day, the angels to deliver Lot and his family from Sodom's approaching doom, Moses and Aaron to predict the fate of the Egyptians, the angel to destroy the Assyrian host, the prophets and Jesus to announce Jerusalem's fall, and the faithful to proclaim the destruction of the second, "this evil" world? He commissioned none of them to be vituperative or abusive. Rather, both He Himself used sober language in prophesying the pertinent calamities and He commissioned His messengers to imitate His example. How agreeably did He act toward Abraham at Mamre, Jacob at Bethel, Moses at Horeb, Joshua at Jordan, Gideon at Abiezer, Samuel at Shiloh, David at Bethlehem,
Solomon at Gibeon, Elijah at Samaria, Isaiah and Jeremiah at Jerusalem, Daniel at Babylon, Mordecai, Ezra and Nehemiah at Shushan, Jesus at Nazareth, Peter at Caesarea Philippi, Paul at Damascus and John at Patmos. Insinuatingly winsome was He in all these acts. And when we view His dealings with Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Arius, Claudius of Turin, Berengar of Tours, Peter Abelard, Arnold of Brescia, Waldo, Marsiglio, Tauler, Wyclif, Huss, Wesel, Wessel, Savonarola, Luther, Zwingli, Hubmaier, Servetus, Cranmer, Browne, Fox, Wesley, Stone, Miller, Russell and all the other saints, less prominent indeed than these, but yet loyal to Him, we see how winsomely He has acted toward them.
In our own experiences with Him we have found Him the acme of agreeableness. He giveth liberally and upbraideth not. How open-hearted and kindly He was to us as He led us out of sin into repentance and faith unto justification! How ineffably winsome He has been while enlightening us in our ignorance and giving us freely, without upbraiding, and most graciously His all-embracing, mind-satisfying and heart-resting Truth! How winsomely did He woo us to the brideship of Jesus—" Harken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thy people and thy father's house. So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy Lord and worship thou Him!" Was ever a marriage proposal clothed in more gracious and winsome terms than these? So did He woo us to brideship for Jesus, and certainly He has been conducting us most agreeably to the Bridegroom's home now being prepared for us. How agreeable have been His spirit, words, acts and manner, as He gave us the bridal present of the hearing ears, the working hand, the ornate will, and the espousal robe of the beauty of holiness? Agreeable indeed have been His attitude, works and acts toward us as He develops us in every good word and work. How fascinatingly
winsome have His words been to us when we are weary and heavy-laden—" Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." When tribulations as a great flood would overflow and submerge us, most agreeably He tells us: "When thou passest through deep waters I will be with thee; and they shall not overflow thee." In our storms He reassuringly tells us: "It is I; be not afraid." In our battles with sin, error, selfishness and worldliness He strengthens us with the comfort that the battle is the Lord's and that He will go forward with us. In every experience of life, whether it be toward or untoward, easy or hard, pleasant or unpleasant, joyful or sorrowful, pleasurable or painful, He shows Himself toward us as the gracious, winsome, pleasing and agreeable God that He is, our Father and our Helper, our Lover and our Friend, our Preserver and our Provider, our Teacher and our Trainer, our Comforter and our Encourager; and in it all, through it all and by it all, He ever remains our ever gracious and winsome God.
Is it any wonder that so gracious and agreeable a being as God wins many and holds them, not by physical, but by heart and mind ties? Is it any wonder that now, while sin is in the ascendancy, the best of minds and hearts are unbreakably drawn to Him? Is it any wonder that He shall yet win to Himself billions of the fallen race and myriads of the fallen angels in everlasting ties of sacred loyalty? To deal with Him in a reciprocal spirit is to become won by and to Him. To fellowship with Him is to admire, appreciate and cling to Him. To know Him is to desire to be everlastingly united with Him. To feel His favor, to know His generosity, to experience His benignity and to have His smile, are joy ineffable, peace ununderstandable and heaven on earth. His agreeableness brightens our nights and glorifies our days; it turns our winters into spring and makes our Decembers as pleasant as May. Overcome by a sense of His winsomeness we
forget our sorrows, bid "good-bye" to our troubles, triumph in our trials and conquer in life's battles. In His favor, which expresses itself in His agreeableness, we find life and health, peace and joy, faith and sight, hope and fruition, love and delight, brotherhood and Fatherhood! The Scriptures, in ascribing to Him supreme longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, generosity, magnanimity, liberality, mildness, love, peace, joy and graciousness, declare to us His supremacy in agreeableness. We praise, worship and adore Him for another of His glorious lower primary graces—even His agreeableness. And our praise, worship and adoration of Him should be so heartfelt as to make us long to be and daily endeavor to become like Him in the lower primary grace, agreeableness, a quality that will make us a blessing to others, a strength for ourselves and an honor for God.
In the discussion of our theme in the foregoing parts of this chapter we have finished our consideration of God's Selfish Lower Primary Attributes of Character, and with the next part of this chapter we begin our study of God's Social Lower Primary Attributes of Character. The difference between these two sets of primary attributes of character lies in this: That whereas the selfish lower primary attributes go out to self as their object, the social lower primary attributes go out to others. Thus self-esteem, approbativeness, restfulness, etc., reach out to self as their object in certain respects, while conjugality, friendship, parental love, etc., go out to others as their object. There are certain aspects of the social graces that God does not have, e.g., amativeness—love for the opposite sex—love for parents and love for brothers and sisters. There being no sex in God, there is no sex love in Him. He not having parents, brothers or sisters, He of course does not have corresponding qualities—love for parents, brothers or sisters. Thus there are certain affections that human beings have
which God does not have. And since these are such as are based on the differences of their natures, there are certain respects in which God's character differs from man's character. But, apart from love for food and drink, which man's physical constitution will always require him to have, these differences will cease after man has attained full perfection and crystallized character; for then in mankind sex will have passed out of existence (Luke 20: 35-37), and human family ties will have been swallowed up into the family relation of Christ and the Church as the parents of the perfected race, all of whose members will then be brothers.
While there is no sex in God and while He does not have a wife in our sense of the word, wife, nevertheless God's relations to the covenants whereby He develops His children are Scripturally set forth as those of a husband to a wife. Thus He is set forth as the husband of the covenant that develops the Little Flock (Is. 54: 1, 5; Gal. 4: 26, 27). In this He is, as Husband, typed by Abraham, whose wife, Sarah, types this covenant (Gal. 4: 21-31), God's symbolic wife. The Divine covenants in their primary significance are promises (Eph. 2: 12). Some of His covenants are unconditional and some are conditional promises. Thus the Lord's promises—covenants—to Noah and to Abraham and to Abraham's seed are unconditional (Is. 54: 9; Rom. 11: 29; Gal. 3: 15—18; Heb. 6: 17, 18); while the Law Covenant and the New Covenant are conditional promises, man's obedience being required, if he would get the promise (Gal. 3: 10-12; Ezek. 18: 4-24).
But the word, covenant, is used in a second sense in the Scriptures, i.e., in the sense of all the teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., connected with a covenant in the primary sense of the word. Thus all of the teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., connected with the covenant made at Sinai are a part of the Law
Covenant in this second sense of the word. Thus while God and Israel bound themselves to one another in a covenant, in the first sense of that word, at Sinai; the covenant, in the second sense of that word, began to be made with the institution of the Passover, the day Israel left Egypt (Heb. 8: 9), and was not completed until Moses finished giving the covenant teachings, etc., to Israel just before he died, a few days before Israel's crossing Jordan and about forty years after leaving Egypt (Deut. 33: 1-29).
Then, in the third place, the word, covenant, is Scripturally used to include with the two preceding senses the servants who apply the promises and their pertinent teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., to those in the covenant. It is in this third sense of the word, which includes the first and second senses as a part of it, that the covenant is called Scripturally, the mother. This we gather from Is. 54: 17, compared with the rest of the chapter, where the Sarah Covenant is addressed as Jehovah's wife and the mother of His children, while the one addressed is shown in verse 17 to include God's servants. Compare also St. Paul's use of Is. 54: 1 in proof of his explanation of the antitype of Sarah, in Gal. 4: 21-31. This is also manifest from what St. Peter said in Acts 3: 25, where the prophets, in their capacity of ministering to the Church (1 Pet. 1: 12) various features elaborative of the Sarah promises, are with those promises called the mother of the Israelites indeed, who had just become new creatures through the faith wrought in their hearts by the preceding part of St. Peter's discourse. It is when the third sense of the word, covenant, is used (which third sense includes the other two senses of the word), that God figures forth the covenant as a woman who is His wife. This is quite manifest from the fact that while the Sarah Covenant was barren (during the Patriarchal and Jewish Ages), it is spoken of as sorrowful, mourning, desolate,
troubled, forsaken, etc., in Is. 54. All these expressions descriptive of distress characterize the covenant in the third sense of the word, because the prophets, who were a part of the covenant in that sense of the word, had just such experiences while "unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven." (1 Pet. 1: 12). Yet the covenant was barren in their days and only at Jordan in our Lord and at Pentecost in the first representatives of the Church did it begin to bring forth the Seed of promise and has throughout the Gospel Age been continuing to bring forth that Seed, that in its last part will soon be glorified.
In God's relations to the Law Covenant and especially to the Abrahamic Covenant, particularly in its Sarah feature, God has been exercising the social lower primary grace of conjugality—husbandliness. That is, just as a true husband feels and acts toward his wife, so has God felt and acted toward this great covenant. In God's relations to these two covenants, God is typed by Abraham and these two covenants are typed by Sarah and Hagar (Gal. 4: 21-31). Just as Abraham, at Sarah's suggestion, took Hagar only temporarily, and then at Sarah's suggestion dismissed her; so God, at the suggestion of the servants of the Abrahamic promises, took the Law Covenant in the third sense of that term as His temporary wife, and at their suggestion dismissed it. In both cases the latter was done only after each mother and son had shown their wrong attitude toward the true Seed of promise. Nevertheless God acted a husbandly part toward the Law Covenant in the third sense of the word throughout the Jewish Age, until at its end the servants of that covenant—the priest, Levites, scribes, Pharisees, etc., proved their utter unworthiness, whereupon the Lord cast off them, the Law's promises and its teachings,
arrangements, institutions, etc., with all under them, from His favor.
It is, however, more in His relations with the married wife, antitypical Sarah, and not with the desolate—cast off—concubine, antitypical Hagar (Is. 54: 1), that Jehovah's quality of husbandliness appears; for God acts like a true husband toward antitypical Sarah—the oath—bound promises to the Christ, their Biblically elaborated teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., and His servants that apply these to His faithful children. These promises, teachings, institutions, arrangements, etc., and servants, are of the highest order and call forth God's appreciation and sympathy. And He richly gives these to them as His wife. In sublimest strain and tenderest sentiment Jehovah tells of His feelings and activities toward antitypical Sarah. We make bold to say that for elevation of thought, tenderness of feeling, delight of spirit and oneness of heart and mind, nowhere in literature does husbandly feeling and activity go out in so noble, beautiful and sublime ways as God's husbandly feelings and activities express themselves to antitypical Sarah in Is. 54. We ask our readers, especially those among them who are husbands, carefully to read Is. 54 and then try to match it with anything in all literature descriptive of good husbands. Note, in verse 1, the triumphant joy of the husband at His wife, long childless, becoming the mother of His children. Consider His encouraging her, in v. 2, to make a suitable home for the increasing family, unstintingly in His providing for its every comfort and enlargement. See how, in v. 3, He rejoices with her in the future success of their beloved and mutual children. See how, in v. 4, He beautifully describes her glorious future and lovingly and sympathetically comforts her as against a sad past. Note carefully how, in v. 5, He points out her highest honor in being the beloved wife of the Supreme Being, the Hallowed of God's people and the Covenant God of
the whole earth. Notice the marvelous contrasts in vs. 6-8, each one blotting out a sad past by a bright present and future. Keep in mind, in vs. 9 and 10, how He swears undying fidelity, tenderest care and sure joy for the future. How tenderly, in vs. 11, 12, He, reminding her of the sad past (the Patriarchal and Jewish Ages) in which she was the afflicted, tempest-tossed and uncomforted one, assures her, His beloved wife, of the great prosperity, beauty and value of her glorious palace which she will share with Him! Her wifely heart as the mother of His children is, in v. 13, made to beat with joy in His husbandly assurance that He Himself will be the teacher of their children and will lead them into great prosperity. How remarkably His confidence in her noble character of righteousness, mercy and courage is set forth in v. 14! While, in v. 15, He tells her that envious evil-wishers will take counsel against her. He nevertheless assures her that He will so thoroughly defend her as to deliver her and foil them—a real Husband protecting the wife of His bosom. While He assures her, in v. 16, that it is of His permissive ordering that the evil-intentioned will act, yet, in v. 17, He promises her—His servants—complete victory over every error and wrong that will arise against her and that He Himself will provide her righteousness—in Christ will this be. In this chapter every husbandly function as possessed by Jehovah in the highest degree, is touched on. Here the husband is set forth as the one who loves his wife, cherishes her, honors her, companions her, trusts her, provides for her, protects her and co-operates with her in the raising and training of their children. Is there any husbandly quality and act found wanting in Him? And did ever a husband tell it all more beautifully, winsomely, lovingly and reassuringly than Jehovah, the Husband—antitypical Abraham—of the Sarah Covenant? This chapter, through the light thrown on it by St. Paul in Gal. 4: 21-31, is indescribably fine, and
certainly proves that God has in the highest degree the social grace of husbandliness. This would also appear from a consideration of His husbandly relations to the New Covenant, but we forbear giving further particulars.
As Jehovah is the best of husbands, so, too, is He the best of fathers—He has the social grace of fatherliness. At the present time God is the Father of the angelic hosts (Job 1: 6; 2: 1; 38: 7), of the Little Flock (Rom. 8: 14-16), and of the Great Company (2 Cor. 6: 18). After the Millennium, as the antitypical Abraham, He will also be the Father of the Ancient and Youthful Worthies and of the faithful of the Restitution Class (Rom. 4: 17). While in all these relations He is an ideal Father, exercising unapproachable fatherliness, we will limit our consideration of Him as Father to His fatherly relation to the Little Flock—Jesus and His faithful footstep followers. God is the Father of these, according to many Scriptures (Matt. 3: 17; 11: 25-27; 18: 10, 14, 19; Luke 22: 29; 23: 46; John 1: 14, 18; 10: 3638; Rom. 1: 3, 4; Gal. 4: 6, 7; 1 Thes. 1: 3; Heb. 12: 9; 1 John 3: 1). And He does toward and for them everything that a real father should do toward and for his children, with this important difference: that whereas there are frequently mistakes of head and inabilities of hand in the best of earthly fathers, Jehovah, as the Father of Jesus and the Church, never makes any mistake of head or lacks any ability of hand in His relations to His children. There are especially seven things that must be done by one who has full fatherliness. We will, on consideration, readily recognize these as the acts of a real father; and these God does in supreme degree toward the Christ Class. A true earthly father begets, loves, companions, provides for, trains, prepares an inheritance for, and gives an inheritance to, his children. And God does these things in a perfect and supreme way, thus exercising real fatherliness.