My desire is to speak on the verse, "In pressure Thou hast
enlarged me." It is a principle of the ways of God which
is unfailing in its application from the beginning right up to
the world to come. The word that is used for pressure carries
with it the thought of tribulation, suffering or trial. We are
all familiar with those words, and we are familiar with the things
themselves. I desire to see if we can get help in seeing the application.
There are certain things which would not have come in had sin
not come in. If man had not asserted his will in defiance of the
will of God, certain things would not have come in-for instance,
redemption, judgment, and the capacity to sift and discern so
as to put good on one side and evil on another. Had not sin come
in, the occasion for these and many other things would not have
arisen. But, sin having come in, then God, the God who loves us
and whom we love, has established a principle on the line of which
He moves and under the influence of which we come. The first mover
on that line was God, so the blessed God would say that if sin,
and with sin death and many other things, has come in, then the
divine activities must move in certain ways. If God would say
that, we must not be surprised if the whole cast of things which
embraces the manner of life and the very purpose of the people
of God being upon earth should follow along those same lines.
So, the first movement of the blessed God, sin having come in,
is the indication on the part of God that He was prepared to suffer.
He was prepared to move on the line of suffering that He might
effect recovery in a manner of glory which transcended all possibilities,
had sin not come in.
And so the first word from the blessed God is, "The woman's
seed"-Christ-on the line of suffering, love and sacrifice.
If that be so with the blessed God, then we are prepared that
the same shall be true of the Son of His love, for they go "both
of them together." From the moment that God announced "the
woman's seed," everything from that moment up to the cross
indicates that the divine mind had brought itself to this-suffering,
sacrifice and surrender. The Lord Jesus Christ has passed by the
way of death. Thus the Old Testament is replete with those things
which suggest to us the love of the Lord in suffering, the pathway
of the Lord under pressure and then, finally, that supreme pressure
of the garden of Gethsemane, of the cross and of the tomb. It
is on that line that God inaugurates the principle, "In
pressure Thou hast enlarged me," He Himself giving the
character to it and carrying it through. If that be so, we must
not be surprised if we come in on the line of pressure.
One can see, I believe, that in the ways of God, pressure, trial
and testing are the elements which preserve the wholesomeness
and the purity of the body. It is a wonderful thing how it works
out from beginning to end. Take, for instance, in the first words
that the blessed God addresses to the woman, "In sorrow
thou shalt bring forth children." Just think how that has
worked out in the myriads of those who have come into the world!
"In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." It is
inevitable that God should be on that line; it could not be otherwise.
And what I would like to suggest to you is that we should not
look upon pressure or suffering or trial or affliction as abnormal-as
the unexpected or that which carries with it the sense of shock
or surprise, but that, in the spirit of our minds, we accept it
as a principle of the house of God that enlargement comes in proportion
to the pressure.
I might put it in another way: The enlargement carries with
it the thought of the manifestation, or expansion, of the light
of the glory which will shine out in the world to come. If there
had been no sin, there would not be any "world to come."
I suppose the occasion for it would scarcely exist. But what it
is in its essence is that the blessed God reserves that in the
millennial day, in which He will give the answer to all the pressure,
affliction and knowledge of Himself gained in these things, He
will give that day to the manifestation of light, which consists
in the knowledge of God that has been learned in the place of
affliction and trial.
I think it would help us very much if we could cease to look
upon tribulation, affliction and the like things as calamity,
misfortune or the unforeseen and embrace in the spirit of our
minds that it is a normal element of the house of God. One could
go so far as to say that God maintains a certain amount of pressure
or suffering in His house among His people as a necessary component,
without which we could not get on. And if we view it that way,
then I think we shall, perhaps, become the subjects of it or witness
it to others, without the sense that something unforeseen or calamitous
had happened. We would view it rather in this way, that there
is one-this brother, that sister, myself-who is under the tender
and gracious handling of God as an essential part of that which
has to be maintained in His house, which is pressure.
Now the purposes of pressure are manifold. For one thing, they
certainly are preservative. Take yourself-take myself: If I am
free from the handling of God in the way of what we speak of as
trial, difficulty or pressure, I am very predisposed to take things
easy, as it were, here in this world. I am very predisposed, in
the exercise of vigorous health or easy health, of easy circumstances
or of surroundings that are to my liking, to regard it with a
fairly independent state of mind, without, perhaps, very much
concern for others. But then pressure comes in as a wonderful
preservative. I might illustrate it by Peter. The principle runs
through from Abel onward, but I will illustrate it with Peter.
The Lord said to Peter, "When thou wast young, thou girdest
thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt
be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall
gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake
He, signifying by what death he should glorify God" (John
There is Peter: Wherever he goes he has this in his mind, "The
Lord has put pressure upon me." Suppose someone comes to
him and says, "We have a fine proposition for you-a sure
thing to set you up here in this world." He says, "The
Lord has told me that I am going to die [and die he did, by the
cross]. I have no time or place for the thing." Suppose,
in one way or the other, the power of the world has come in; he
would always think, "I have the sentence of death in myself;
that sentence of death carries me along day by day to an inevitable
end." But how does he regard it? With serenity; in peacefulness.
We say sometimes, "Is so-and-so resigned?"
Perhaps the answer is "yes." I am rather sorry to
hear it. In the light of Christ glorified and of the spirit which
illumines the house of God, I do not think resignation is the
spirit, because resignation implies a kind of stoicism-a sort
of a feeling that one cannot escape that which is inevitable-therefore
we must take it quietly. But if we view Peter as he addresses
us in his Second Epistle, speaking in the peace and serenity of
a spirit perfectly at home with God, in the contemplation of the
fact that he was shortly going to "put off this my tabernacle,"
that was not resignation; it was the serene expression of one
at perfect peace in the hand of God.
Now, the enlargement that came to Peter was that he is enabled
to magnify the great glory of Christ as he does and also that
there is secured for him a definite place in the world to come.
The pressure is answered by what is proportionate in the world
Beside being preservative, I think we can see that pressure is
educational. How do we learn God? We learn God through His handling
of us. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." That
is how we learn God. Therefore, it seems that those of us who
have been longest on the way, upon looking back, are prepared
to say that the things which have been our definite blessing and
which have done the most to mold us in the knowledge of God have
been our trials. David-like, we can say, "It is good for
me that I have been afflicted" (Psalm 119:71). "Before
I was afflicted I went astray" (vs. 67). "I
know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness
hast afflicted me" (vs. 75). So it is of great blessing
to the soul to be able to say of the things that come upon us,
"Here is my education; God is educating me." Take
it up on that line.
Then there is another great feature in respect of pressure, and
that is influence. Where should we all be if we did not have among
us the influence which we see in the hand of God touching one
and another? I remember that Mr. Stoney once said that he went
to visit the sick, not for their sake so much as for his own sake.
I know what he meant; he meant that when we move around in activity
and, as it were, breathe the external atmosphere of the world
and its affairs and the people in it, we become more or less hardened-imperceptibly
almost, but certainly. And then you come aside, you come to the
bedside of one who is laid there in suffering, and you see the
way in which God is making Himself known in His tender love to
that one. You and I are often in such a position. I was, a very
short time ago, with a dear man now with the Lord, and the peacefulness,
the restfulness in the love of God that was manifested in that
one was very wonderful.
Take the case of another young man whom I was with a very short
time ago. The doctor came to him and said, "I think you
are going to recover after all." He said, "You are
not bringing me good news. You told me a little while ago that
I was going home to be with the Lord, and now you are trying to
bring me back again!" The influence of these things upon
our spirits is invaluable, bringing us, as it were, into the breathing
of an atmosphere that is at total variance to this world and that
is redolent with the precious support of God, the encouragement
of God, and the priestly touch of the Lord Jesus Christ! You go
out from a place like that and your spirit is purified, softened
and molded. So the maintenance of these things in the house of
God is a necessity for its spiritual wholesomeness, for its spiritual
I wonder if you see how this principle works all through Scripture?
We look for a day of glory. We read about it in the First Epistle
of Peter. That is the great epistle of suffering, of pressure.
What is the answer to that? The answer to that is a day of glory
in which there will be no suffering-the world to come. Talking
with a dear sister who was laid aside in very painful circumstances,
where she had been lying in one position for many years, her poor
body twisted, I said to her, "You know your present sufferings
have not to do so much with this world as with the world that
is coming." She wanted to know how. I said, "In the
world that is coming there will be no one who will know God in
suffering; there will be no one who will be able to tell from
personal experience what the support of the High Priest is in
circumstances like these, but you are laid aside here and have
been here for years. It is not so much for its effect in this
world, as it is in the education that you will have for the Lord
to say to you, ‘Go and tell this one and that one and the other
one in the world to come what God has been to you in a sphere
of weakness and suffering.'" She said, "I never thought
of it in that way; I deem it a great honor." That is right.
"In pressure Thou hast enlarged me." She was enabled
in that sense to apprehend that God has, in the process of training,
under His own blessed touch, those who will supply to the myriads
of the world to come a manner of light and education that they
never could get from their own practical experience.
So that principle holds good. Take Isaac, for instance. You have
him in his early youth bound and laid for death upon the altar.
Indeed, that must have been a pressure for him. "Behold
the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
And there he is, lying bound. You can see what would enter his
mind and thoughts-what the view of this world would be for one
lying in that position, as he was. That was pressure. Now for
the enlargement. He comes back from among the dead, and the Lord
God comes to Abraham and says, in respect of Isaac, "In
thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
There was the pressure, and there was the answering enlargement.
The principle works all the way through. Take Joseph, down in
the pit-no water, the place of death. He is taken from there and
put in the prison. The iron enters his soul. He lies there in
fetters. But what was the answer to the pit and the prison for
Joseph? His glory filled all the land of Egypt, so that every
being in the land, and from other lands too, came and said, "Thou
hast saved all our lives."
Take Paul. It is a lovely subject to follow up. Here is Paul
in activity, and he is taken and put under pressure. He is shut
up in prison. In all the intense devotion and activities which
were his for Christ, he is put in prison. There is pressure. What
now? Out from the prison there came the most precious of all epistles
that we have-the epistles to the Colossians, to the Ephesians,
to the Philippians, the Second Epistle to Timothy, and to Philemon.
That rich and glorious enlargement which has nurtured and fed
the whole church of God from that time to this came out of the
pressure of prison.
The principle works all the time. You might take up those who
have been known to us. For instance, our beloved brother Mr. Darby,
whom it was my privilege to know-it worked with him. He had ideas
and thoughts from which nothing was coming, and God was pleased
to lay him aside for three months through what we would call an
accident or misfortune or calamity. And in those three months
laid aside, with the capacity to do nothing but to think, there
was formed in his spirit that light which has become clearly the
light of recovery for this present day. There was the pressure,
and the enlargement has come in a manner, not only for his blessing,
but greatly for our blessing and enrichment.
So, beloved brethren, I just want to suggest to you and to all
of us that, in the ways of God, we are in the environment in which
these things will reach us. I would like to impress this upon
you, that, as a matter of observation, there is more of trial
and affliction among the people of God than there is in the world.
The world has its vicissitudes that have come about as a consequence
of sin and lawlessness in man. But in addition to our being affected
by those things, we cannot doubt but that God makes selection
in His own garden, so to speak, of those whom He lays aside just
for the pure blessing of the house of God-choice souls, souls
who live in the love of God-those who, being laid aside, you might
say their value in activity has gone. Ah! But laid aside, as it
were, under the hand of God, who can tell their worth in that
So one is privileged to look upon it that God makes selection
of those who shall adorn His house in the way of pressure and
trial and affliction. We should look upon them in a certain sense
as honored vessels, while we convey to them the _expression of
our deep sympathy. They are honored vessels. Time was when I used
rather to wonder whether pressure or affliction was the evidence
of the governmental dealings of God. But I think it more correct
to view it that the laying aside in the governmental dealings
of God is much the smaller part of the affliction and pressure
that we have among us. Rather, one looks upon it that, as you
go to your garden and pick your choicest flowers or your best
fruit, so does the Lord make selection of those who are the very
choice in the knowledge of Himself and who are evidently much
in the secret of the Lord, as loving Him.
Light in the Heavenly City
I think that we might see that, of the grounds on which we are
laid aside, the governmental thought is one side only; another
side is certainly that the radiancy of the knowledge of the glory
of God should shine forth from the earthen vessel (2 Cor.
4:6). And that light in the soul, which shines out, is acquired,
in the main, through pressure, sacrifice and surrender.
But then it is also allowed and produced in the house of God
for its influence, for we who are active would be very different
in our spirits if we did not come from time to time and put ourselves
under the influence of those on whom the Lord puts His finger
of pressure. I do not know how it is with you younger ones here,
but I do certainly commend to you to count it a privilege and
seek the opportunity to get close in with those whom the Lord
is laying pressure upon; you will learn God in witnessing the
way in which He enables them to bear suffering, to learn, to pray,
and to carry the exercises of the assembly in their hearts. For
instance, a beloved sister, whom many of us know, passed away
a short time ago. She was 97 years of age. For almost 80 years
of that time she was absolutely stone deaf, and a good part of
the time after that laid aside. It was a choice privilege to go
and talk with that dear child of God. Among the last things that
she said, and which she also wrote to me, was, "My education
is not yet complete!" But she contributed to the education
in the spirits of countless numbers of the children of God, whom
she carried in her spirit of prayer. Every concern that was going
on in a broad way in the house of God came to her, and she had
a thought and judgment upon it all. The value of a woman like
that is just simply inestimable. Of her it could be said, "In
pressure Thou hast enlarged me." The poem that she wrote,
"The Cloud and the Argument," showed how a young
soul in her teens could take things up with God that, afterward,
in intense pressure, she maintained for eighty long years.
When a brother said to another dear soul, recently taken home,
"Why do you think the Lord leaves you here so long?"
she replied, "Oh, that is easy to answer. He leaves me here
to pray." That dear soul was bright in her faculties and
103 years old when she went home recently.
What can we do without such things among us? Take the company
of the Lord's people here; if you have not among you those who
are the subjects of the pressure of the Lord in these ways, you
are impoverished. If you have them, look upon them as a source
of spiritual wealth.
Regard them as assets of the greatest value. You do not know
how much you are supported by the prayers and the spirits of those
who are the prisoners of the Lord in this way-suffering in body,
in spirit, in infirmities, and so forth.
I suppose that one might say that the pressures of God, through
which He enlarges, follow certain lines, for instance, bodily
pressure. Of all the things that men esteem most, I suppose it
is their bodily health. Therefore, it is no wonder that the blessed
God is pleased to break our bodily health in various ways: sap
our energies and strength, convince us that we have bodies of
humiliation, and put us in pain and suffering. The amount of education
that we get of the knowledge of God through our bodies is certainly
very great, and our bodies, being handled in that way by God,
become privileged to be a great influence for spiritual blessing
to the people of God.
Another way in which pressure comes in, and where we very quickly
respond to it, is in our business vicissitudes. How quickly we
cry out when the finger of God comes upon what we call our means
of living-but which very often are not the means of our living,
but rather the means of gratifying tastes and likings altogether
beyond what God has indicated to us when He says, "Food,
raiment, contentment." How many has one seen whose careers
have been shattered by the failure to see the simple principle,
"Godliness with contentment is great gain....And having
food and raiment let us therewith be content" (1 Tim.
6:6,8). Therefore God has come in; in His mercy and goodness,
He has shattered our business concerns-perhaps even shattered
the very means of our gaining a livelihood. I know what I am talking
about. I have been through it. I trust what I am saying to you
now may be of some value to you younger ones.
Pressure From the World
There are other pressures-pressures from the world. It is a hostile
world. Do not let it be a friendly world. God forbid that it should
be to us a friendly world. It is a hostile world, and it brings
its pressures. If you are not the friend of the world but get
the pressure of the world, there is great blessing for you.
Then there is another kind of pressure that some of us know something
about-pressure in our families, in our relationships. It is a
thing of deep admiration how God, in divine wisdom, can turn about
the things that lie closest to our hearts. So, in our very families,
in that which is nearest to us by nature, we are brought under
grief and affliction. Yet, from it all, He brings out an enlargement
which, perhaps, in this world is of great blessing to others in
its influence and which surely in the world to come will have
an answer from God.
There is another line of pressure, and that is as identified
with the house of God, the assembly. What cares, what pressures,
what trials and what griefs arise in that circle so dear to us!
And, as God softens and molds us by bringing us personally under
affliction and pressure-or, viewing it where it hurts us more,
in our loved ones or in others whom He has laid aside among us-one
understands how these things prepare our spirits so that, under
the impress of Christ, we may suitably handle and care for that
which, in its tiny measure, we may touch, as Paul touched it in
its great measure: "Beside those things that are without,
that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
Pressure of Bereavement
There is another pressure to which all of us have at some time
or other responded, and that is bereavement. It is something to
contemplate that we belong to a company, the people of God, who,
throughout all ages, will enter into the world to come, the eternal
state, as having known in greater or lesser degree the pressure
that has come from bereavement. If it be the definite word, "With
pain thou shalt bear children" (JND), so the word, "In
pressure Thou hast enlarged me" applies, so that none of
us is suffered to pass through this scene and to live here among
others, but there must come the constriction of the heart's affections,
the throbbing of grief, in bereavement. It comes to all. It is
the Lord's prerogative to touch us in that way. How much does
that constriction of heart enlarge us! As the blessed Lord could
say at the grave of Lazarus, "Said I not unto thee, that,
if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
So, in all these ways, we trace that the blessed God is effecting
His intentions not only or principally governmentally. Perhaps
I had better explain that a little more before I close. By "governmentally,"
I think the hand of God comes in upon us in pressure where the
will is unsubdued and defiant to the will of God. I do not think
that is true of many. I think with regard to most, speaking from
observation of the children of God, they do not carry a will that
is intentionally defiant of the will of God or that purposely
goes contrary to what He shows to be right.
Where infirmity, failure and breakdown come in, it is generally
the case that the motive is good, but the intelligence is not
good and the communion with God is not good. But it is not the
deliberate pursuing of a course which is contrary to the mind
of God. When I say, "I am going to have that object at all
costs," that is where the will is asserted against God
and where the governmental dealing comes in. I think that if you
follow it through Scripture, you will find that this is so. But,
on the other hand, the most of those that are laid aside among
us are those who, in large measure, accept the will of God. Many
of those who are laid aside among us are absolutely the choicest
ones of the flock. How often this has been verified! The other
day I saw a dear sister in her early forties, who was afflicted
with cancer, pain and suffering, knowing that very soon, a few
weeks or so, she would be with the Lord. Everyone who could flocked
to her bedside. One got the impression that he could not afford
not to go there, to get her impressions of Christ, for she was
in the hand of God.
Again, there is a similar case of a dear sister well-known to
me, who has been with the Lord many long years now. She had pilgrimages
to her bedside from all parts of England. It would be like sacrilege
to say she was governmentally there. But why was she laid aside
in the midst of her years, when so much of activity might be possible?
There is plenty of activity. It is that kind of pressure which
lays one aside to meditate, to pray, to bear up, it may be by
name, each one individually in your own company where you are,
to consider for you in all your circumstances, when you, in the
bustle of your lives, have scarce time to bend the knee to God
morning and night. You may have among you some laid aside to whom
you go, as an act of mercy, to visit, but who are considering
you profoundly. You may be the debtor to that brother or sister
who may be carrying you along in prayer before God, that He may
preserve you in the temptations, trials and testings you have
in your activity.
So, we should not look upon pressure, affliction and the like
as being calamity or misfortune, but rather a rich endowment which
proceeds from springs which have their origin in the heart of
God Himself, who, at the outset, moved on the line of sacrifice
and surrender, who committed His Beloved Son on the line of sacrifice
and surrender, and who maintains His household up to the world
to come on those same lines. How beautifully it is expressed in
those words, "We [also] ought to lay down our lives for
the brethren"! We ought to lay down our lives for them.
Consider what it means! Where is the perfection of it? In Christ!
In what spirit did the blessed Lord come? In the spirit of the
God who gave Him.
In view of these things, motives are clarified, actions are purified,
the wholesome atmosphere of the house of God is maintained. Breathing
conditions, so to speak, are preserved in a world that is full
of the foul gases of hell, corruption and violence, and an atmosphere
pure and sweet is maintained along the lines that "in pressure
Thou hast enlarged me." So Peter addresses the beloved
saints as regards their present place of trial, "That the
trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise
and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having
not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing,
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter
So, may we take it home and not speak too much of misfortune-not
speak too much of calamity-not speak too much of being shocked
when this or that comes-but accept it in the quiet, peaceful serenity
of peace with God, for it is along those lines that we reach it.
You know your Saviour-He "who was delivered for our offences,
and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified
by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we
stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so,
but we glory in tribulations also…" (Rom. 4:25-5:3).
I just put it up to you: Do you glory-do you boast-in tribulation?
Is it so? It is so if you understand it. If you see the place
it has as an ordinary principle in the ways of God, you will "glory
in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh
not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." So that link
is perfect. God moved in divine love at the outset to sacrifice
from Himself and the blessed Lord Jesus, and He passes us through
the same line. The link-the circle-is perfect. It ends up in the
love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given