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THE GOSPEL HERALD
And Voice of Truth.
66 CHRIST IS ALL AND IN ALL."
A NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS FOR 1880.
Dear readers of the Gospel Herald and Voice of Truth,-To you, to all the beloved of the Lord, may grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied, from the commencement of this year until its close, and evermore.
Every word of God is pure, true, right, and good, and to be regarded as the voice of our heavenly Father speaking unto his children in love combined with authority, calling for their filial and reverential attention and obedience thereto. The words at the head of this address, although only two in number, being the utterances of our Lord himself, claim our most serious consideration as to what they may refer, and whether we have any concern in the commandment thus expressed. The words were originally addressed to the churches at Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia; what it was they were to "hold fast" was, no doubt, the doctrines, ordinances, and precepts they had received from the apostles and other ministers of Christ by whom they had been instructed in the things of God. This exhortation, however, they did not fully attend to; and therefore these societies have long since passed away as the result consequent on disobedience to the Lord's command. But the word of exhortation and of warning given to them, remains on record in the New Testament of our Lord, for the instruction, attention, and obedience of his churches until the end of time. And the complete fulfilment of the word of threatening in the case of those ancient churches of baptized believers, for their not attending to the word of exhortation, fully proves that our Lord will most assuredly execute his solemn threatenings as well as perform his gracious promises. Moreover, that these letters from Christ himself to those churches were intended to apply to all churches in all successive ages of the world, is evident from the fact that in every case the words, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," are appended, to excite the attention of all who shall read them with spiritual understanding, so long as a militant church shall continue to exist. If, then, the seven churches of
Asia were left to their threatened doom, and that in part, because they did not heed this word of exhortation, "Hold fast" it becomes us, in obedience to our Lord, to "hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" respecting holding fast, and we find that the Spirit saith, "Hold fast the form of sound words," which direction relates to the summary of Divine truth given by Paul to Timothy, and by implication to the teaching of the apostle in general, and to that of all the apostles; for they all spake the same things, being all under the special inspiration of the blessed Comforter, by whom, in accordance with the promise given by Christ, they were guided into all truth. The "form of sound words" is the "form of doctrine" delivered by the apostles to the churches, which Paul thanked God that the saints at Rome to whom he wrote had "obeyed from the heart," that is, they had received the truth of God in the love of it. And it is of the utmost importance that we hold fast the precious doctrines of the Holy Gospel of our gracious God, and the form of sound words in which they are given to us in our Father's Book. For if the words which express the doctrines of the gospel be given up, the doctrines themselves will soon become forgotten, or cease to be present to our minds in their influence and sweetness. Thus, if we cease to speak of the redemption of Christ, that glorious work which types and shadows in sacrifices, etc., so long foreshadowed and prophesy so long and so clearly and fully foretold, and of which the New Testament of our Lord is so full, we shall soon cease to remember the fact that Christ Jesus came to redeem, and that he did redeem, his people from the curse of the law, and the power and slavery of sin and Satan. If we cease to speak of our heavenly Father's everlasting electing love, and to praise him for it, we shall soon become oblivious of the fact that he has a loved people who are loved with the same love that Christ himself is loved with. If we leave off speaking of the love of the blessed Spirit and his gracious teaching and sanctifying work in the soul, we shall soon cease to remember that the work of the Spirit of God is as necessary to our salvation as the work of Christ and the will of the Father. Let us, then, hear the voice of the Spirit, and by the grace of God resolve to hold fast sound doctrines and the form of sound scriptural words in which those doctrines are delivered unto us, "adhering closely to the words and phrases in which the apostles taught them."
Again, the Spirit saith unto the churches, "Hold fast that which is good." Hold fast all that is good, whether relating to our most holy faith, or connected with a godly profession thereof. Whatever agrees with the Divine testimony is good, and to be held with a tenacious grasp. But as all is not gold that glitters, so all that looks like truth is not truth; for the father of lies can put on the appearance of an angel of light, and make his falsehoods bear the resemblance of truth. Therefore every statement of doctrine is to be tested by the unerring standard, when having proved it to be in accordance with the good and true word of God, hold it fast, and do not give it up to please any man or set of men, be their talents, their reputation, or their position what it may. Consequent and connected with this is the rejection of all error, all teaching contrary to the plain testimony of the Holy Ghost in the sacred page. If this voice of the Spirit had always been listened to and obeyed by the professing church, how much of the mischief done by false teachers would have been prevented! How many false doctrines that