‘Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.’—2 Cor. X. 5.
ARE there any tyrants more harassing than our own thoughts? Control of deeds and words seems a small thing in comparison ; but have we not been apt to fancy that we really can’t help our thoughts? Instead of our dominating them, they have dominated us; and we have not expected, nor even thought it possible, to be set free from the manifold tyranny of vain thoughts, and still less of wandering thoughts. Yet, all the time, here has been God’s word about this hopeless, helpless matter, only where has been our faith?
It is very strong language that the inspiring Spirit uses here—not ‘ thoughts’ in general, but definitely, and with no room for distressing exceptions, ‘every thought.’1 Must it not be glorious rest to have every thought of day and night brought into sweet, quiet, complete captivity to Jesus, entirely ‘ obedient to the faith,” to His holy and loving influence, to His beautiful and perfect law? We should not have dared to hope or dream of such a rest unto our souls; we should not have guessed it included in that promise to those who take the yoke of Christ upon them ; and if we could find one text stating that it was not any part of God’s infinitely gracious purposes for us, we should only say, ‘Of course, for it stands to reason it could not be!’
To reason, perhaps, but not to faith; for words cannot be plainer than these in which St. Paul sets forth this marvellous privilege not of himself personally, but of all God’s children, if they are only willing and simply believing in the matter. For while ‘ the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” is the measure of the fulness of His promises, ‘according to your faith’2 is the appointed measure of their reception and benefit by ourselves. ‘Lord, increase our faith.”
But there is an order in their effectual working, and we must not begin at the wrong end. Before this triumph-leading of every thought can take place, there is the ‘ casting down imaginations,’ * or, as in the more correct margin, ‘reasonings.’ As long as we are reasoning about a promise, we never know its reality. It is not God’s way. It is the humble who hear thereof and are glad.6 Have we not found it so? Did we ever receive the powerful fulfilment of any promise so long as we argued and reasoned, whether with our own hearts or with others, and said, ‘How can these things be?” Has it not always been, that we had to lay down our arms and accept God’s thought and God’s way instead of our own ideas, and be willing that He should ‘speak the word only,’ and believe it as little children believe
1 Phil. iv. 19. 2 Matt, ix, 29. 3 Luke xvii. 5.
*a Cor. X. 5. 6 Ps, xxxiv. 2. * John hi. 9.
our promises? Then, never till then, the promise and the privilege became ours not only in potentiality but in actuality. Now, how is it that we do not yet understand, and apply the same principle to every promise or privilege which as yet we see only afar off? It is the old way and the only way: ‘Who through faith . . . obtain promises.”
It is a solemn thought that the alternative of’ the obedience of Christ” is disobedience. Thoughts that are not brought into the one are in the other; for ‘the thought of foolishness is sin,” nothing less or lighter; and when the Holy Spirit ‘declareth unto man what is his thought,’ unsuspected sin and unrecognized guilt come terribly to light. But’ how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?’* The Conqueror, the always triumphing Saviour, stands at the door and knocks ; shall we not ‘open unto Him immediately,’ and now cast down the reasonings which hinder His present triumph, and yield up to Him ‘who alone can order them’ the unruly will and affections, and deliver into His victorious hands the unmanageable thought-garrison (reserving no private slaves, who would quickly again become our masters), and then let Him dwell in our hearts by faith as absolute Captain of our salvation ?5 Then He will garrison our hearts with the peace of God which passeth all understanding.6
Let every thought
Be captive brought,
Lord Jesus Christ, to Thine own sweet obedience;
That I may know,
In ebbless flow,
The perfect peace of full and pure allegiance.
1 Heb. xi. 33. 2 2 Cor. x. 6. 3 Prov. xxiv. 9.
* Jer. iv. 17. 6 Heb. ii. 10. « Phil. iv. 7.