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" ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE." “Jesus CHRIST, THE SAME YESTERDAY, TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER. WHOM TO KNOW
IS LIFE ETERNAL."
AND WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS. THEN
LOOK UP, AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS; FOR YOUR REDEMP
TION DRAWETH NIGH.--LUKE, xxi. 28. PRECIOUS, soul-comforting words, beloved, spoken by the Master himself, and most suitably adapted to the church of God in her present languishing state. May the eternal Spirit, the dear Testifier of Jesus, open up a little of its blessedness to our hearts in this our time of deep necessity.
Surely—we were ready to say, there are but few of the Lord's family who can be indifferent spectators of what is passing around ; and yet, according to the description given by our Lord himself of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. xxv.), there are some, yea, many of his beloved ones lulled into a treacherous slumber, carried away by some one or other of the easy, flesh-pleasing systems of religion of the day. Being but partially established in the truth ; having but a limited acquaintance with the depths of depravity of the human heart, the awful extent of the fall, and the total incapacity of man to perform the veriest act of any worth or value in the school of grace ; and being, moreover, ignorant, in great measure, of the wiles of the devil, such are among the easily captivated. Possessed of “ itching ears,'' No. 23, Vol. II.- New Series.
anxious, as they say, to do something for Him who hath done so much for them; novelties, Satan's counterfeits, soon attract their gaze, and one by one they depart, and fall away from the simplicity of the truth. These remarks more particularly apply to what we choose to term the general Dissenters of the day ; but, turning to the Church of England, to those found within its precincts, the sight is not less lamentable. Satan, with cunning artifice, has crept in ; and, founding his arguments upon the relics of Popery which were left within her at the time of the Reformation, he has gone forth with mighty influence, and to an almost incalculable extent, in “scattering the power of the holy people” that were found within that Church. Employing a PUSEYITE agency—a name that must echo with gladness among the infernal spirits-he has most rapidly insinuated himself into the esteem of the higher authorities of that Church ; and now, as a certain consequence, she is becoming daily more and more a PAPISTICAL POWER.
We speak of these things with grief; we cannot be indifferent spectators; our feeble voice must be raised against such a lamentable state of things (in themselves considered), while yet it has the liberty of utterance. We have long thought, and have before given expression to the opinion, that the time during which we may speak unreservedly, is brief, very brief. So formidable is the aspect which things have now assumed; so mighty the engines employed by this Satanic embassy, that we feel an inward persuasion, the time cannot be far distant when every vehicle of pure Gospel truth must be arrested. We are apprehensive that such “ witnesses ” must be “slain " during “the times, and times, and half a time,” which, we believe, before the completion of the present half-century, shall have come upon the church. Even before that time, short as it is, some of us may be gathered home, taken to our rest ; that we cheerfully leave to the wise dominion of the great Head of the church : but should this not be the case, and it shall seem good unto him to keep us here to behold the desolation that shall abound, we hope it may please him to indulge us with that measure of dependence on his own sovereign power as shall embolden us to speak, and that plainly, even in the face of an ecclesiastical tribunal, or a burning faggot! These are but words, we know; but we give utterance to them in this public way, deeply conscious of “wherein our great strength lieth ;” most readily do we acknowledge, before friends and foes, that we shall be among the first to retreat and flee the face of danger, if God be not present with us in his sensible manifestations and almighty power.
Previous, however, to a brief comment upon the words of our text, there is another painful aspect of the times to which we would allude. It is that of the enmity and discord which prevail between the real children of God. It was feebly to strike at the root of this, as well as to administer comfort to the mourners in Zion, that we took our present stand as Editor of this Work. It was (and is) our intention, as God should enable us, to seek by every means to avoid angry discussion; the task has been a most difficult one, seeing we are encompassed by men of truth, in a major sense, but differing upon points of secondary
importance. It is thus, as one means, that the power of this holy people” is scattered. Enmity and division having taken possession of their breasts, it soon becomes manifest; others perceiving it at once are robbed of the power and unction which attended their ministrations. It is a deep consciousness of this fact; it is the slandering, the backbiting, the magnifying faults, and putting wrong constructions upon other men's words, that sicken us of preachers and preaching in the day in which we live. We speak a fact, though we may be upbraided for giving expression to it, when we say, that it is but very rarely we are permitted to gather up a crumb under the preached word ; and though we attend the ministration of it from time to time as an example to our families and others, and with the continual hope and ardent wrestling at the throne for a divine communication under that word; yet, with grief we acknowledge it (though God is a sovereign, and communicates as he will), we obtain far more instruction and comfort in our own private meditations and intercourse with the Lord, and in the perusal of such men's writings as Romaine, Toplady, Hawker, and Huntington. It may be deemed a little egotistical if we say, that we believe this is but another proof that the Spirit is withholding his gracious influences as the essential accompaniment to the preached word.
We come now to a brief consideration of the text.
“And when these things begin to come to pass.” They have begun to come to pass, as we have been attempting feebly to show, and of which every reader may have daily demonstrative proof. For, though the operations of time have proved that our dear Lord in the previous part of this chapter was making a significant allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem, then about to take place, even prior to that generation having passed away'; yet we are of decided opinion that he partially referred, especially in the words before us, to the final consummation of all things. This position, we think, is firmly established by the language immediately preceding our text. “Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.” “Well,” it is as if the Holy Ghost in the hearts of his elect had responded to the words of our Lord, “and when these things begin to come to pass, what then?” “Why," says our gracious Lord, “ look up (fear not, be not dismayed, hang not your head) and lift up your heads ; for your redemption draweth nigh ;” not your first redemption, so to speak; not the proclamation of pardon, full and free, by a Saviour's precious blood; this was done in eternity, and ratified in time, according to the several data in which the Holy Ghost “makes his people willing in the day of his power ;' but the completion of redemption, the final accomplishment of it; for, beloved, in one sense redemption is not yet complete. Redemption complete ! and we yet in the body, on earth, cumbered with much serving, troubled about many things, and compelled from day to day to drag about with us a body of sin and death? Redemption complete ! oh, no, no! We are looking for the Master's summons, and our being called home, ere redemption be complete ; we are expecting to join the general assembly and church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven, ere our redemption is complete. We are exclaiming with the Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans (viii. 19—24), “For the earnest expectation (mark that) of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. * * * For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now ; And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.” Redemption complete! oh, no! For the saints around the throne in glory are waiting in longing anticipation for this “redemption of the body.” Happy as they are, and unceasingly adoring, yet with joy they anticipate the period when He, the Lord Jehovah, shall have taken to himself his great power, gathering together his elect out of the four corners of the earth ; and then coming with ten thousand of his saints, to be admired in all them that believe, and to gather up, in resurrection power, their sleeping dust.
“ Their flesh shali slumber in the ground,
Till the archangel's trump shall sound;
And in their Saviour's image rise." Oh, glorious day! oh, mighty power! oh, wondrous grace! “We are waiting for thy salvation, O Lord.”
THE PRINCE OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH.
REVELATIONS, 1. 5. These words in the Revelation of the beloved disciple could not imply that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Prince over earthly rulers, kings constituted by man to be the head of a people, many of whom have never known the name of Christ, and very few of those who have borne the name of Christian kings have known him savingly. The Scriptures alone can elucidate the title ; and, if under the guiding of the heavenly Teacher, our meditations, my brethren, may be profitable, if not consoling to all.
When we can read our title clear to the mansions of bliss prepared for the followers of the Lamb ; when basking in the light of the Lord's countenance; when faith is in lively exercise, and we are trusting, and resting, and hoping, and believing, under all circumstances, in Him who is the first and the last; it is strengthening to our faith, and comforting under trials, to be led more and more into the glories of redemption, in the perfect work of its adorable Author ; and even if we have lost the sweet savour of the day of our espousals, if sensible enjoyments have ceased ; still if we are graciously permitted to walk by faith though not by sight, can still touch if but the hem of that garment, so that the virtue of it diffuses its healing balm, and saith, “ In me ye have peace, though in the world ye have tribulation ;" even then we can contem
plate with joy and gladness the all-sufficiency of Jesus! and truly under this frame we find that the completeness of the work, and the immutability of the word, are truths whereunto we are brought continually to resort. Brethren, beloved, may the blessed Spirit help us to look more at the Prince of the kings of the earth, and enable us to realize our high calling in Christ Jesus, who hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who is faithful over his own house, whose house are we, whose builder and maker is God. Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, saved with an everlasting salvation ; for the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed; a King of the royal line of David ; a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, is our Forerunner; and he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified being all one, ye are kings and priests, and shall reign on the earth. Jesus has wrought out a royal robe of righteousness, has laid up a crown of glory, for all who love his appearing ; is gone to prepare a place, and will come again, and where he is there shall ye be also ; he shall come and reign a Prince over the kings of the earth. Blessed are ye that mourn, ye shall be comforted; ye that suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ye, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they whom Jesus has made kings and priests; blessed are they whose eyes have been opened, whose hearts have been broken, for surely they shall see the King in his beauty, they shall be brought to Jesus to be healed; for he came the first time to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, to comfort all that mourn, and he shall come the second time to reign as a Prince over the kings of the earth.
How is it, my brethren, that even when under the influence of faith, knowing our election of God, believing the promises, and having sensible enjoyment of our high calling in Christ Jesus-how is it that we yet walk as men of the earth, and not as kings in all the dignity of our royal birth ; trampling under foot, with priestly holiness, the things of time and sense, and, with patience and meekness, look from our dignified position with pity rather than contempt on the men of earth? Our own hearts, if rightly taught, will give an answer. Yes, we shall reign with Jesus, but not in these bodies in which we groan being burdened. Did we feel the highest state of spiritual enjoyment, a consummation of bliss, should we not be satisfied with earth as it is? should we seek a better country ? should we wish another rest? should we even desire the actual presence of our Lord ? No, my brethren, whether under sensible enjoyment and walking by sight, or looking unto Jesus and living with passive enjoyment in faith on the Son of God; whether ye are believing to-day and doubting to-morrow, or writing bitter things against yourselves ; whether ye are under a “horror of great darkness,” or “ basking” in the glorious light of the Lord's countenance; whether cast down by the roughness of the way, by fiery trials and heart-rending bereavements; whether privileged to walk in sweet