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Dispensational Study

by Samuel Ridout (1855-1930)

Samuel RidoutWe have had some misgivings as to leaving this portion of our subject so long untouched, because in one sense it is of the very first importance that all our study of Scripture should be along the lines of a clear understanding of the great dispensational landmarks of divine truth. The position, therefore, does not indicate that the subject is of less importance than the others that have gone before.

By "Dispensational Study," we mean the study of the various ages, epochs or dispensations into which the history of God's dealings with mankind from the beginning to the end of time are divided. Perhaps many Bible readers have never seriously thought of the self-evident fact that God has had different methods of dealing with men from the beginning to the present. Even where there is not entire ignorance as to this, the distinction between the dispensations has been but feebly grasped by the majority of God's people. Far be it from us for a moment to say that any portion of Scripture may not be profited by without this: but we fail in its full application and use unless we realize its setting.

For instance, the children of God in all time have justly turned to the book of Psalms as a storehouse of inspired experience in which they find utterance for their needs, sorrows, failures, trials, doubts and fears, as well as their joys, responsibilities, faith, hope, duty, love and all the fruits of the divine life which abound there. Indeed, we are persuaded that the people of God suffer in this busy day because of their neglect of the divinely recorded experiences which we find throughout the wonderful book of Psalms. But because of this very fact, we repeat that it is of the greatest importance, nay necessity, that we should apprehend the true dispensational setting of these inspired poems.

For instance, godly saints have been obliged to consider what are called the imprecatory psalms as belonging to a ruder age, as possibly not inspired in the same way as are the lofty out-breathings of praise and worship. Thus an unintentional slur is put upon their inspiration, and at the same time much important instruction is lost sight of. Similarly, the absence of the spirit of adoption, the knowledge of present and eternal acceptance, the heavenly hope as contrasted with the earthly one, and the acquaintance with the person of our Lord Jesus,—these and many other features compel the intelligent reader to recognize that in the book of Psalms he is not on characteristic Christian ground. All this is seen to some extent by every Christian properly familiar with the Bible; and yet many of these, through lack of a knowledge of the great dispensational outlines, would be unable to explain exactly why we do not find the same liberty in the Psalms that we do, for instance, in the epistle to the Philippians. The explanation is at once simple and satisfying. "He hath made everything beautiful in his time" (Ecc. 3:11), and the time had not yet come, in the dispensation in and for which the Psalms were written, to bring out Christian truth. Such a thing would have been putting new wine into old bottles.

The same may be said as to the Prophets, and indeed of the entire Old Testament Scriptures. We must take truth in its proper connection, or we will fail to apprehend it aright. This is one of the very first axioms of Bible study. Get the immediate and surrounding context clear, if you expect to understand the meaning of any particular passage. It is the application of this principle that we may call dispensational study.

Let us begin by supposing that the Christian reader has a fair measure of acquaintance with the letter of the Old and New Testaments, but has never had his attention called to the fact of which we are speaking. We will also, as far as possible, suppose that his interest has been awakened in some ordinary way, rather than by the reading of some book in which dispensational truth is brought out. In this way, we may, perhaps, get hints as to helpful methods of further study along these lines. Let us suppose, for instance, that in the daily family reading, they have come to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, and one of the children asks: "Father, of whom is the prophet speaking here?" and at once gets the reply, "Why of the Lord Jesus, of course. He is the One who was despised and rejected of men, and the One upon whom the chastisement of our peace was." "Then, father, why does it not say plainly that it was the Lord Jesus?" "Because the Lord Jesus had not yet come, and God was telling, through the prophet, many hundreds of years before, how the Lord Jesus would be treated when He came. We know it speaks of the Lord Jesus because if you turn to the New Testament in the book of Acts, you find Philip preached to the Ethiopian about the Lord Jesus from this very passage." (See Acts 8:32-35.)

"Is that the reason why we never find the name of the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Old Testament?" "Yes; He had not yet been born, nor suffered and died for our sins. Men of God were hoping and waiting for the coming of the Saviour who had been promised from the beginning." "Didn't David know the Lord Jesus?" "No; because he lived many hundreds of years before the Lord Jesus was born." "Well, how could David be saved then? Was he not a sinful man?" "Yes; Psalm 32 tells us not only that he had sinned, but also that he knew how blessed it was to have his sins forgiven. He did not know fully about it; he only knew God was very merciful and that the time was coming some day when all would be made plain; and so every one who really had faith trusted in God, and though they often had many trials and doubts, they also had faith and hope and were not left alone in the dark."

Another child says: "Well, I think I like the New Testament better, because that tells us not only that some One was coming, but that He has come, and of the love of God and all that the Lord Jesus has done for us." "Yes," the father says; "and we would not understand very much from the Old Testament if we did not have the New to tell us plainly all about the Lord Jesus."

This little conversation awakens thoughts in his mind. As he goes through the day's duties it recurs again to him, and at some opportunity, he takes a New Testament out of his pocket to read a little from the word of God. "There, again," he says, "why do we carry the New Testament instead of the Old?" And of course his Christian conscience gives him the correct reply.

Gradually, as he continues his daily readings in both Old and New Testaments, this light gathers increased clearness. He recognizes what all along he had more or less acted upon, that a different atmosphere pervades the New Testament from that of the Old. He notices, too, how our Lord speaks of His own coming. "Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see: for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them" (Luke 10:23, 24). He connects with this another more striking statement still, where the Lord promises His disciples, in John 16 "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you."

Coming to the book of Acts, he finds the Comforter sent according to promise, and in his study of the epistle to the Ephesians, he finds that the Holy Spirit has been given as a seal, "the Earnest (the pledge) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." He finds, too, that the Holy Spirit was not given until our Lord Jesus was glorified, until after redemption had been accomplished (John 7). He finds, too, in connection with the Holy Spirit, that assurance, the knowledge of the present forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7), the Spirit of adoption, of sonship (Rom. 8:15), and many other characteristics abound in the Epistles, which are not found in the Old Testament. Gradually having been accustomed, let us say, to jotting down his thoughts in his note-book, he reaches some such conclusion as the following:

1. "Bible history is divided into two parts, marked by the birth and life of our Lord Jesus upon earth. All that took place before that, is narrated in the Old Testament; and after that, in the New. The Old Testament is in the shadow, with bright glimpses of hope. The New Testament is in the full blaze of light."

2. "All New Testament history is divided into two parts and is marked off by the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All before that narrates the perfect life of our Lord Jesus, and still deals more or less with the Jews. All after that speaks of the accomplished work of Christ and every blessing in him enjoyed by every believer."

We are bold to say that such a discovery as this would mark an epoch in the life of any Christian man. The Bible would become a new book to him it would shine with the lustre of a love which he had feebly apprehended before, and the joy of a known redemption would fill his heart. He has grasped the great fact of dispensational truth. Much still remains to be learned, but this part is essential and most important of all.

As is the case with all knowledge, and especially Scripture knowledge, what we learn not only gives us instruction upon the point before us, but raises further questions and furnishes a key to their answer. Accustomed to asking questions of every verse as he reads it, it gradually dawns upon him from his study of the Epistles, that there is a distinct hope which the Spirit of God has put in the hearts of the Lord's people. Just as in the Old Testament everything looked forward to the coming of Messiah, so in the New Testament, after our Lord's death, resurrection and ascension, everything looks forward to another coming. A growing conviction presses upon him that the expectation held forth in the Epistles is not of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, or a gradual improvement of the earth and setting up of the Millennium. On the contrary, he sees that Christianity separates the believer from the world, that he belongs to heaven, and every question as to his salvation having been settled, he longs to be there. Furthermore, he finds that instead of death, the sombre companion of all hope of human progress and earthly blessing, God sets before him a "blessed hope" which is none other than the coming of the Lord Jesus at any time to take His people out of the earth, raising those who are sleeping, changing the living, and translating them all to heaven.

In other words, he learns what marks the present dispensation. It is an accomplished redemption by the sacrifice of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit as the witness of this, uniting believers to the Lord Jesus, and leading out their hopes to wait for His second coming to translate them to heaven.

As he continues, however, his Old Testament reading and study, with no less love than before, but with much clearer interest, he finds a progress running through it also. For instance, there are certain great landmarks which stand out like mountain peaks, dividing the whole domain of Old Testament truth into clearly marked districts. The greater part of the Old Testament has to do with a nation, the chosen people of God. These are under law. In the light of his New Testament studies, he finds that there is a special sense in which the believer is not under law now, as he was in the Old Testament. He finds, too, that the prophets, both in the days of Samuel and Elijah, as well as the later ones who committed their messages to writing, made reference to this law and the relation of this earthly people, Israel, to God. He finds, too, that this period of God's dealings might be called national, because He treats the whole nation alike, many of whom are children of God and many are not. All, however, have a certain relation to Him, are under law, recognize their sinfulness and liability to punishment. He finds at the same time that faith pierces through this cloud and lays hold upon the grace and mercy of God, but that the dispensation, or manner of God's dealing, is marked by distance and conditions upon which man could receive blessing. Looking back to the time preceding this, he finds in the book of Genesis a period not marked by this national dealing nor by the giving of law. There is a covenant relationship with God which recognizes the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and these enjoy a communion according to their faith as individuals.

Looking back a little further, he finds a brief account of the origin of nations, and traces it to the establishment of ordered government under Noah. Prior to that, was a long period in which man was left to himself, and lawlessness and violence filled the earth; and this, in his backward glance, brings him to the fall and the brief period of innocence which preceded it.

Turning again to his note-book,he makes some such entry as the following:

1. "Man was created innocent, and God's dealings with him in the Garden of Eden were entirely different from anything since."

2 "From Seth to the flood, there seems to be a period when man was left largely to himself, without government, and without intercourse with God except where there was faith."

3. "With Noah a new manner of God's dealings with men seems to begin. They are put under government, and divided into nations."

4. "Abraham marks the great beginning of God's ways in covenant or agreement with men."

5. "Moses begins the great chapter of national history, in which we find, not a covenant or agreement by promise, but one with certain conditions connected with it, God promising to bless if man would keep His law.

In this way, in the course of ordinary reading, with thought and study, we will suppose that he has reached a more or less definite understanding of the difference between God's ways with man before the fall, prior to the flood, in Noah's times, and the call of Abraham,with the subsequent national history of Israel.

We will suppose him now making a further entry:

"Before the fall we have the state of innocence, separate from all the after-history of God's ways with man. All Old Testament history after the fall is divided into four great periods:

1. Lawlessness, from Cain to the flood.

2.Governmental, from Noah to Abraham.

3. Patriarchal, from Abraham to Moses.

4. A chosen nation under law, from Moses to the end of the Old Testament."

As he further meditates upon this schedule, he sees that the period called "patriarchal" is rather introductory to, and gives the faith side of the whole period of God's dealings with Israel, and finally reaches a three-fold division for the Old Testament.

All that such a student needs now is the help of some elementary book to gather up all the results of his dispensational study and carry it out to completeness. If it be said, Who ever got this far along with the knowledge of dispensations, unaided? our answer would be, Some one must have, or we would not have our present knowledge of dispensational truth and further, we are persuaded that if prejudice is absent, it does not take long to convince a sincere Bible reader and student of the truth of the great of which we have been speaking.

We need hardly point out both the advantage and the necessity for distinct knowledge of this kind. We are not contending at present for any rigid dispensational outline, except the clear marking off the present or Christian period from all others, together with the hope of the Lord's coming, which brings to a close the present period of grace. This leads us on to consider what is coming after the people of God are removed to heaven at the close of the present age. We will, for the sake of uniformity, continue to follow our supposed Bible student in his search.

He finds a large amount of Scripture, in the Psalms and Prophets particularly, which speak of a glorious time that is coming. Evidently, it is not Christian times that are described, —unless, indeed, we rob words of their literal meaning and spiritualize everything, making the glowing descriptions of the kingdom and Israel's blessing upon the earth to be pictures of spiritual blessing for the Church, as the summaries in the ordinary versions of our Bible indicate.

He finds no time in the past, not even in the palmiest days of David and Solomon, when these predictions were fulfilled. Indeed, many of them were written long after the division of the kingdom into two parts. They evidently look forward to a future time beyond the present Christian age and perhaps, without becoming absolutely clear about it, he has in his mind something which he expresses in words like this:

"The future hope for the Christian is not the improvement of this world, but the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to take His people out of it. In the Old Testament many beautiful prophecies speak of a time when this world shall blossom as the rose. This will most likely be after the Christian period has closed."

Probably, for the ordinary Bible student, the harmonizing of these two thoughts—the coming of the Lord to take His people out of the world (which experience and the Scriptures alike show to be getting worse, instead of better) and the introduction of a reign of righteousness, with the knowledge of the Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea—will be a task either too difficult, or accomplished only after long and prayerful study. We are, however, dealing with possibilities rather than actualities, and will continue, for the purposes of illustration, to suppose that the student reaches his conclusions as the result of his own labors.

Indeed, we may say just here that there is a danger of having truth prepared ready to our hand, summing up what has been reached by others as the result of long, laborious search and prayerful meditation. Where it is learned in this way, at second hand—whether doctrinal truth or that which now occupies us, the prophetic outline of God's ways—the knowledge will be of a superficial or light character, having little moral power, and relinquished, possibly, as easily as acquired. We are indeed most thankful for all the results of believing study and research, and are assured that one who despises written ministry of this character will probably not make much progress in truth, and may possibly fall into error; but the road lies between ditches on either side of it; and there is a distinct danger in learning truth out of books instead of from the Scriptures. The former often produces rapid results, but the authority is often that of some prominent teacher rather than of the word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Possibly the danger of which we speak is greater in connection with prophetic truth than with any other. There is so much of a comparatively historical character which occupies the mind rather than the conscience and the heart; curious questions arise, and there is a subtle pride in having knowledge which is not possessed by others. We are justified, therefore, in encouraging and urging Christians to pursue studies for themselves, and to endeavor to make original research a prominent part of their Bible work. In education, wherever practicable, laboratory work is required of the student of chemistry, physics, biology, etc. We plead for more of this "laboratory work" in the word of God. Every Bible student should be an original investigator in some field, no matter how limited or elementary his work may be.

How is the Millennium to be brought in? His Old Testament studies in the Prophets and Psalms present a dark picture of the condition of the world, and of God's professed people. They show disobedience, godlessness and apostasy rising higher and higher until the very earth is seen to be a moral chaos, and nothing but the judgment of God can be expected. This judgment, he finds, is the prominent theme in the Prophets. So far from the world gradually improving and evil slowly giving way to or—strangest of all permutations—changing into righteousness, God's judgment is delayed only for a time, and must fall both upon the nation of Israel and the world at large.

Turning to the book of Revelation, the great prophecy of the New Testament, he finds that the larger part of the book is taken up with judgments of the most dreadful and complete character—upon the civilized nations of the world, upon the earthly people of God who have been led off into apostasy under the False Prophet, and upon Babylon the great, which bears unmistakable signs of being the apostate Church. After the infliction of all these judgments, he finds both in Old Testament prophecy and in the book of Revelation the appearing of the Son of Man in the climax of judgment, overthrowing His enemies, and introducing the very kingdom of righteousness and peace upon the earth for which saints of old longed and to which prophecy pointed.

Working backward and forward, he sees that this period of judgment is spoken of as a "short work" (Rom. 9:28; Isa. 28:22). He sees, too, that this period has been made short especially for the sake of "the elect"—not the Christians of the present age, but a remnant of godly Jews who turn to the Lord after the Church has been removed to heaven, and are subjected to fearful persecutions because of their faithfulness to Christ.

This remnant is frequently spoken of in Revelation (Rev. 6-14), in the book of Psalms and in the Prophets. It is for the sake of these that the days of the great tribulation will be shortened. As a matter of fact, the last week of the seventy predicted in Daniel (9:24-27) is divided into two parts, the last half only being the time of the great tribulation, when the suffering is so great that unless the days had been shortened no flesh could be saved (Matt. 24:22). He finds in connection with this scripture last quoted that the appearing of the Son of Man will follow "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

This coming he finds described in Revelation as a victorious coming forth to battle, after the manner of Psalm 45 and Isaiah 63. He has reached the solution of the problem which has occupied him, and finds in the glorious reign of Christ for a thousand years ample room for all the glowing descriptions of the Old Testament.

The same chapter in Revelation (20) which speaks of this glorious millennial reign adds a brief description of the closing period of time when Satan who has been bound is let loose for a little season, and again the great lesson of the inveterate, incurable enmity of the heart of the natural man is manifested in the last and final act of rebellion, which is followed by the eternal punishment and retribution of evil in fallen angels and wicked men, so that nothing shall ever intrude into God's glorious new creation, which for all eternity shall be the sphere of untold bliss and joy unutterable in the worship, communion and service of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of Father, Son and Spirit, for the heavenly people on high, and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Thus the student will have, by the leading of the Spirit of God, and as a result, perhaps, of slow, careful plodding and prayerful study, out of the materials abundantly furnished in the word of God, constructed a bridge of truth reaching from eternity to eternity, over the comparatively narrow span of time of a few thousand years' duration. This span, however, is of such momentous importance that every possible question of good and evil which could rise has been not only discussed, but manifested and allowed to run its course, in order that at the close of time, with the portals of eternity open, it will be with the knowledge that no further question can ever be raised.

What a glimpse does this transcendent theme give of that eternal calm in which God sits enthroned! From eternity to eternity He is God! The restless malice of Satan and the puny rebellion of fallen man have not swerved Him from the one unceasing purpose which He purposed in Himself before eternal ages, to glorify His Son, to head up all things in Christ, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times" (Eph. 1), and to have gathered about Himself a universe of intelligent, adoring creatures capable of entering into His thoughts and of enjoying His love; creatures of various families, but every family in heaven and earth named with His name who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and in these families one shines out with a tender glow of radiant beauty more marvelous than all others. It is "the bride, the Lamb's wife."

We must not think, however, that with the construction of the bridge, sufficient and suitable for us to pass over its entire length, we have completed the study of dispensational truth. We have, indeed, only mapped out that which invites us to further and more minute study. Many details remain for exploration, many questions to be settled; the place of many minor events to be found; but in it all, having the great outline, we will be able to fit in the details with increasing facility.

We add a word of special emphasis with regard to the period in which we are living. The ends of the world, or "ages," are come upon us (1 Cor. 10:11). The Church is the mystery which from the beginning had been hid in God, a mystery, or secret, now made known (Eph. 3), the right apprehension of which furnishes the key to the knowledge of all prophecy, and shows the peculiar grace and marvelous dignity of the place into which sinners of the Gentiles like ourselves, with Jews who through grace have believed in Christ, have been brought.

As has already been said, this present dispensation, or period of God's ways, is marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit in a special way, not merely resting upon men for power and enlightenment in the knowledge of truth, but dwelling in them and uniting them, in abundant sympathy and vital activity, to Christ who is the Head of His body the Church, and to one another as fellow-members of that body. This opens up an immense and most delightful field of truth, which has all the greater charm because it presents the climax of all God's purposes—His masterpiece, we might reverently say.

In Col. 1:24, 25, the apostle speaks of a special ministry which had been committed to him in addition to that of the gospel. It was not, of course, that the one contradicted the other but rather that this special dispensation of God, which was given him to make known "the mystery," was supplementary to that of the gospel. A remarkable expression occurs here which it is well to notice: "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God." A casual reading of this clause would suggest merely that these truths had been predicted before, and were now being fulfilled. As a matter of fact, this is not the case; for, as we have said, the truth of the Church was not made known, and could scarcely even be said to have been predicted; the types in the Old Testament requiring a knowledge of "the mystery" even to connect them with the Church.

The word "fulfil" is, literally, "to complete"; and what we have stated here is that the great truth of the Church as the body of Christ, composed of Jews and Gentiles, baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (all the saints of the present dispensation, from Pentecost to the coming of the Lord), is the crowning revelation which has come to us in the Scriptures. In that sense Paul's ministry, while not the last chronologically, nor even morally, is the climax of all divine revelation. Whatever is brought out afterward, particularly the noble scenes that pass before us in the book of Revelation, are not new truths, but rather enlargements of what has already been declared in both New and Old Testaments. Indeed, we may say that the book of Revelation takes up the subject of Old Testament prophecy, giving it greater distinctness and enlargement. But there is no new doctrine involved there, and the place and destiny of the Church therein set forth have been already anticipated and revealed in the writings of Paul.

Thus in a very distinct way this ministry of "the mystery," this unfolding of the truth of the Church of God, is the completion of the whole canon of Scripture. It is the capstone upon the perfect structure which completes the whole. It is the keystone of the arch, binding all together and making a perfect bridge from eternity to eternity.

Therefore if one is ignorant of the true nature and place of the Church of God in His ways, he cannot be clear as to the vast purposes which He has formed. Such a subject as this deserves the prayerful and careful attention of the Bible student.

The Epistles, particularly those of Paul, therefore unfold to us the nature, character and constitution of the Church as the body of Christ, the house of God, indwelt by the Spirit, and destined to be the bride in the day to come of which we have spoken. The constitution of the Church will be found to make ample provision for all worship, the enjoyment of all communion, the exercise of every activity, and the fulfilment of every responsibility which rests upon it. Whether we look at it as a body composed of many members, all united to the Head, and see the various functions of these members, differing each from the other, and all working harmoniously together to the edification of itself in love; or whether it be the house of God resting upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, inspired men who have given us the New Testament Scriptures, we see every provision which divine wisdom and love could make. The minutest details are provided for. The greatest needs are anticipated; and so beautiful is the living organism that even now to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

Such a delicate, marvelous organism must have a suited environment in which to operate. This has been furnished in the Christian position. This is characterized by the finished redemption of Christ through the cross; by His resurrection as the witness of God's acceptance of all that He has done; by His ascent on high to be our High Priest to sustain us in the trials of the way, and our Advocate to restore us should we wander from Him; by the Holy Ghost to give us the consciousness of our nearness to God, the sense of sonship, with its accompanying dignity power and liberty, together with the knowledge of all other spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ which are our present portion.

No words of ours can emphasize the transcendent importance of a right apprehension of all this. It is only as Christian liberty is realized that our grave responsibilities, both individual and as members of the Church of God and of one another, can be carried out. Ministry, whether in the gospel of God's grace as preached to the unsaved, or the unfolding of His word to His people; discipline, whether as to the ordinary daily, careful pastoral service of those who are gifted thus, or the various grades of warning admonition, even to the extreme of putting away, can only properly be carried out in the holy but most gracious atmosphere of the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.

When once these great characteristic truths of the Christian position have been grasped, the student will see how incongruous it is to blur into one confused whole the various dispensations of Scripture. How limited is that liberty which sees no further than the letter—taking, for instance, the book of Psalms as equally germane to the Christian as the Epistles of which we are speaking!

So far from this leading him to despise the precious revelation which is given there, he will be filled with wonder and admiration at the perfection of this and each portion of the word of God. Indeed, his enjoyment of it will be enhanced by realizing that "some better thing" has been provided for us—a better thing, however, which only gives us the capacity to enjoy all that the Old Testament reveals.

May we not say that much of the confusion which has come in among the people of God, the lack of power and liberty, with the corresponding intrusion of worldliness and the mingling of saints with the world, has resulted from a failure to follow on, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, into the full truth of the gospel, including, as it does, all the characteristic features of Christianity.

This brings us to another feature of dispensational or prophetic truth clearly foretold in the word of God. Not merely do all things lead up to the great climax, but even the Church, which should have been the custodian of the most priceless secrets of God, has failed in its sacred trust; and as a result ruin, so far as human testimony is concerned, has come in. Scripture foretold all this, and the present dispensation of marvelous grace is no exception to the sad rule—a lesson we gather from all the ages—that whatever is entrusted to man fails. God alone is faithful. So there is no room for self-complacency as we dwell upon the amazing truths we have been suggesting. Rather, shame and confusion of face will become us as we look at our present condition and that of the whole professing Church, and compare it with the glorious ideal spread before us in the Epistles.

Where is the chaste virgin espoused to Christ? Where, the oneness of heart and soul? Where, that one body united to one Head, actuated by one Spirit? Where, that holy temple into which nothing profane or of the world intrudes? Blessed be God, we know that His purposes abide. The Church as it will be in glory He sees already but for ourselves, with sorrow, self-judgment and humiliation, we take our place as did Daniel for his time, and say, "Unto us belongeth shame and confusion of face."

The result, therefore, of dispensational study will be to give greater breadth, deeper knowledge, and a more exact conformity of mind, to the purpose of God revealed in His word than is possible where all Scripture occupies one dead level.

At the close of our little book we will give a list of helpful literature upon this part of our subject. What we are seeking, however, to emphasize at present is the great importance, nay, necessity, of every one forming his own scheme of dispensational knowledge. The student is earnestly requested to read again what we have said on that subject.

From How to Study the Bible by S. Ridout. New York: Bible Truth Press, [n.d.]. Part 1: Methods of Bible Study, Chapter 8.

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