By J G Bellet

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Jonathan

Nature prevails sadly and variously in all the recorded saints of God; in some more, in some less, just as the fruitfulness of the Spirit is seen in them in affections and services; in some thirtyfold, in some sixty, and in some an hundred.

But this is a different thing from being men of mixed principles. It was so with David. Nature prevailed in him at times, but he was never a man of mixed principles.

He never deliberately sat down in a connection which was untrue to the call of God under which he had to act. His character was formed by that call and his ways were according to it: but it was not so with his friend Jonathan; his life was not formed by the call of God, and the energy of the Spirit working in the rule of that call. He acted nobly and graciously at times, but still he was not the separated man. He was not true to the pure principles of God made manifest in that day. He was a man of faith, and of many endearing spiritual affections, such as give him, without reserve, a place in the recollections of the saints. But withal he was not where the call of God would have had him. Saul’s court was a defiled, even an apostate, place then.

God was with David then. The glory was in the wilderness with him; the dens and caves of the earth hid it in that day. The ephod was with David, the priest, the sword of God’s strength, the witness of victory. The flower and promise of the land were with him also, those who gain a name in the cave of Adullam , or in the day of vengeance at Ziklag. Such sons of Israel as these, such as shine afterwards in the court and camp of the kingdom, were all with David then.

The call of God was then to the caves and dens of the earth with the son of Jesse, and the energy of the Spirit worked there; but Jonathan was not there. That is the sad story. Jonathan was not where the glory was, where the priest with the ephod was, where the rejected man after God’s own heart was, where all the promise of the coming kingdom was. That is the sad story.

Jonathan was lovely individually, he had done some noble deeds and was breathing some heavenly affections; and to the end we may be sure David lived in his heart; and many misgivings about his own father, we may be equally sure, that same heart was troubled with. He never personally gave David anything but joy; while we know those who companied with him, even in his afflictions, were betimes both a shame and a sorrow to him. But still his position was not true to the call of God in that day. It kept him apart from all that was of God then, though he had the Lord with himself personally. Till he falls on Mount Gilboa , he is with the camp and the court that fall with him there, dishonoured and defeated as they were, having ere then lost the glory, and all that was of God nationally departed from them.

A common case he illustrates. Was it ignorance of the call of God, or double-mindedness? We will not say; but still in this our day there is, like Jonathan, many a saint dear to one’s heart, and outshining in personal graces the larger number of the day, who is found apart from the place where the energy of the Spirit, according to the rule of the dispensation, works.

Noble and generous deeds are done by them individually, but their connection is their dishonour, as it was Jonathan’s – linked with a world which is speedily to meet the judgment, and in courts and camps which are to lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that be slain with the sword.

“Tell it not in Gath , publish it not in the streets of Askelon”. Jonathan illustrates this, and this is known abundantly to this hour. But Jonathan cannot sanction the place; Jonathan’s presence did not make Saul’s camp or court other than it was.

The only impression the soul has of Lot in Sodom is that of a tainted Lot and not of a sanctified, purified Sodom . According to the word in Haggai, “If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No”. But “If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean”.

There are, however, “things that differ”, and the soul exercised of God is to distinguish them. There is a soiled garment which is, however, at the same time not a mixed garment, a garment of “divers sorts”, of “woollen and linen”.

Our way under the Spirit is to keep our garments undefiled; and anything other or less than that is not the way of communion with the Lord. But still, a soiled garment is not a mixed garment; nor is a garment with a thread now and again of another sort to be mistaken for one whose texture is wrought on the very principle of “woollen and linen”.

Scripture, ever fruitful and perfect, exhibits characters formed by what has been termed “mixed principles” and characters which occasionally become tainted by such, but are not throughout formed by them.

The life of Lot , as we have been seeing, was formed of mixed principles throughout. There was double-mindedness in Lot ; I say not the same with the same clearness of Jonathan; but still the life of each of them from the outset to the close, when the scene of temptation set in, was tainted by connection with evil.

Lot , though associated with the call of God, was a man of the earth; Jonathan, though witnessing the sorrows and the wrongs of David, continued in the interests of the persecutor unto the end.
Their life was thus formed by connections which were untrue to the way of God and the presence of the glory all through. The garment upon each of them was made of divers sorts, of woollen and linen.

But look at Jacob in contrast, and in him we find one of another generation; he was a cautious man who had his worldly fears and schemes and calculations; and they greatly disfigure several passages of his life. His building of a house at Succoth, his buying of a piece of ground at Shechem, were things untrue to the pilgrim life, the tent life, which a son of Abraham was called to know.

But Jacob is not to be put with Lot ; his life was not formed by Succoth and Shechem, though we thus see him there, and out of character there, but he was a stranger with God in the earth. And in the closing days of his pilgrimage, when he was in Egypt , though with many a circumstance around him there to tempt him to have it otherwise, we have many a beautiful witness of the healthful and recovered state of his soul.

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