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“FEAR THOU NOT.”
“ Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen
thee; yea, I will help thee; yeu, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. As it was in the perusal of your first piece in the Number for September that my mind was unctuously arrested by the portion of Scripture at the head of this article, so I propose, through the medium of your pages, and the sacred assistance of the Lord the Spirit, offering a few simple remarks thereon ; hoping they may prove instrumental, in the dear Lord's hand, to the comforting and encouraging of some poor dismayed child of mercy, that is just ready to give up all for lost. Such I would address in the language of the text, “ Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.",
And that this is a promise made to our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in his mediatorial character, I cannot for a moment doubt; since he, as Jehovah's “ righteous servant,” had a business to do (Luke, ii. 49); a work to accomplish (John, xvii. 4); and enemies to encounter (Matt. iv. 1), that made him “groan being burdened," and made him, in his agony of soul, cry, “ If it be possible, let this cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." And as the cup did not pass from him until he had drained all its solemn contents, so the promise is, “ Fear thou not, for I am with thee,” &c. In sweet confirmation of which, let the reader compare the 8th verse with Gen. xxii. 18; Gal. iii. 16. Thus, then, was the promise made to Christ; and as it was to him, so to every elect vessel of mercy in him ; “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him, amen ; unto the glory of God by us.” And as it was made to him, and the whole church in him collectively, so it is likewise made to, and stands for, the encouragement of every poor dismayed child of grace personally, through him. “ Fear thou not,” &c.
In contemplating the several features of which, we shall notice
I. Relationship. “I am thy God.” This I consider to be the base, bottom, and ground of all; “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Hence this is not the relationship that exists between the Lord and his creatures as the Creator and the created, but that of eternity, between the Lord and his children ; the relationship of grace. Hence, then, one feature of it is, it is central, it is all in Christ; it is in him the children are loved, elected, chosen, and blessed (see Eph. i. 1). So it is eternal; nothing in time makes, but manifests, the relationship; “ For I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee ;' “ And because ye are sons," &c. So it is personal; “I will help thee, I am thy God." Thus eternals are brought down to time, and relatives reduced to personals. “ Thy
God," not only in all the vast purposes of eternity, and in all the ancient settlements of covenant contract and grace, but “ thy God" in time, by the secret witnessing of the Lord the Holy Spirit (Rom. viii. 15, 16), and the Spirit of adoption, whereby thou criest, Abba, Father; “ And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” Thus, then, this relationship is such, that the Lord is not only thy Father and thy Friend, but “thy God." Oh! what encouragement is it calculated to give to poor, fearful, dismayed children ; “I am thy God;" the infinitely glorious and self-existent I AM (Ex. iii. 14) is thine. How rich-is " thy God"-what can we have more, since having him, we possess all.
And, as the first point for our consideration is relationship, so the second is Presence. “I am with thee." And here I need not tell the poor, dismayed, fearful child of grace, that the world, the flesh, and the devil, are present; this he knows by bitter and painful experience, under which he groans in the tabernacle being burdened, and cries, “ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" and finds, like his gracious Master, the verity of that declaration, “ He that betrayeth me is at hand.” Well, then, as he that betrayeth thee is ever present, so is he that saveth thee. “I am with thee." Here, then, is thy dear Lord's presence with thee; not his omnipresence only, as God over all, abstractedly considered, neither his presence as set forth in Psalm cxix. only, but his presence of grace; for, as the triumphant part of God's church hath his presence of and in glory (as in John, xvii. 24), so the militant part of the same church hath his presence of grace. “I am with thee.” God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, are all with thee in Christ, according to our Lord's declaration to Philip (John, xiv. 8). To me it appears plain, that the presence of the Lord is over every elect vessel of mercy, even while dead in sin; hence a persecuting Saul shall be watched over in his journey to Damascus, and Nathanael under the fig-tree (John, i. 46). But while it is over these, it is in and with every quickened, converted child of God; “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness." And, “I in them and thou in me," for thus the union stands (John, xvii. 21). But here I would, indeed must, distinguish between the Lord's presence and the enjoyment of the same by the poor timid soul. That he is ever present with all his dear quickened family, is certain ; because “He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;" which refers and points not only unto the end of the journey, but to every inch of the way. But that his dear presence is always enjoyed, I dare not say, because I know it is not. And yet this does not alter the glorious fact, nor the position of the promise, “ I am with thee"-whom thou art or where thou art“I am with thee."
Thus having looked at the relationship and the presence, let us look, thirdly, at the Promise, which will tell us for what purpose the Lord is present with his people ; the first of which is to “strengthen them.” And
that they stand in need of this, is most certain, since it forms a part of the gracious work of the Lord the Holy Spirit to teach them their weakness, in order that his strength may be perfected therein ; also from the many enemies they have to oppose and encounter, both without and within ; all of which, in their continual worryings, are calculated to rob them of their strength, and lay them open to their Philistine enemies. As a proof, see the case in poor Sampson (Jud. xiv. 16, with xvi. 15); the substance of which is carried out in the painful experience of every poor “ tempest-tossed soul," who, at some times and seasons, appears to be so reduced and brought low, that the pulse is scarcely perceptible in any part of the spiritual body. So said one of old, and so say many now; “I was brought low, and the Lord helped me; for it is in thee the (poor orphan) fatherless findeth mercy.” Well, then, all this, though apparently so strange to some, opens up the way for the divine promise, “I will strengthen thee ;” and “ When flesh and heart fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever." Thy extremity is God's opportunity; for when thou and all thy graces are so languishingly weak that thou canst scarcely sigh (Ps. lxxix. 11), it comes up before the Lord, and he is pleased to strengthen thy desires, thy cries, thy hope, thy faith, and thy affection; and thou canst then “shout from the tops of the mountains ;' bid every enemy defiance; and, in the exercise of the strengthening operations of thy God, thou dost say, “ Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” And, as the Lord's promise is to “strengthen,” so to "help ;' " yea, I will help thee.” Oh! what fearful odds are against the enemies of God's dear church; “ If the Lord be for us, who can be against us?” “Who hath hardened himself against God (in his children and truth) and prospered ?" Since they that are with us are more than they that are with them, therefore, should this meet the eye of a poor, prostrate, helpless sinner, to such the promise is made, and such, in God's time and manner, shall be helped. Hezekiah was (Isaiah, xxxviii.); and so was the poor woman of Canaan (Matt. xv.); so have thousands, so have I, and so shalt thou; for the promise is, “I will help thee.” The Lord did help thee in a thousand ways while dead in sin; he helped thee in all his solemn, though gracious work of quickening, converting, &c., and has brought thee thus far. And will he leave thee? No, never! Will he fail to help thee? No, “I will help thee.” And as the Lord promises to strengthen and to help, so to “uphold.” “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." All God's children want to be held and withheld ; “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins ;" so also to be upheld, because the very tendency of all that is within and about them, is to cause them to sink, like Peter, in the mighty waters; and then they cry, “ Lord, save, or I perish;” and have the stretched-out arm to save and uphold the sinking soul. “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” And then the poor bride comes up out of every wilderness, leaning on her Beloved; happy position; desirable posture ; thus to lean, and thus to be upheld. Really, when I look back for many long years, and contemplate the enemies, the way; and then look at my poor, seemingly-insignificant self, I am constrained to say with the poet
“Who could have held me up but thou ?” Therefore, beloved, look at the power, “the right hand of my righteousness." And this will bring us to another sweet branch of this promise-a dispersion of dismay—“Be not dismayed, for I am thy God." Oh! how needful this, when we take into account the many things that are especially calculated to fill the poor soul with dismay; such as his sin, the holy character of God, the spirituality of his law, the unflinching inflexibility of his justice, the roarings of Sinai, the temptations of the enemy, the hatred of the world, the difficulties of the way, the rising and waning enmity of his own depraved nature, his trials and failures, heaven like brass above him, the earth as iron under him, eternity open before him, and despair raging within him. Oh! how dismayed; poor, poor soul! how suited a character for the sweet whispers of our text in the court of thy troubled conscience, “ Be not dismayed, I am thy God.” This brought home by the Lord himself, will disperse dismay, and "fill thee with joy and peace in believing." Hence, we are arrived by this progression to the last point of our communication, although it stands first in the text.
“ Fear thou not." All men have got fears, but all men have not the fears of God's quickened children ; theirs are peculiar to themselves, and consist in the “fear of God,” fear of sin, of self, the world, the enemy: they fear they were never quickened, convinced aright, or killed by the law; so that their joy is not the joy of the Gospel. In a word they (and I can speak for one, I am sure) have thousands of fears, and can truly say from their souls, “ without were fightings, within were fears.” The truth is, and they feel it, that while the professor is walking at large, they are in bonds; while the professor is fearless, and strong, and dismayed at nothing, God's children are poor, weak, helpless, dismayed creatures, and stand in need of all that is folded up in the bosom of this portion, “ Fear thou not.” And to such and such only is it addressed; none others want it, neither will they have it, “Fear thou not.” And then the character to whom the blessing belongs is deciphered, as in Matt. v.
Thus, believer, have we given you such an opening of this Scripture as we trust the Lord gave us in the perusal of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE. May the blessed Spirit make it useful to his poor, weak, helpless, dismayed children, in their comfort, establishment, and dispersion of dismay, with a sweet“ Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee ; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness :" for the dear Redeemer's sake. Amen.
ON THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.
DEARLY BELOVED OF THE LORD, GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE BE WITH
YOU AND THE WHOLE ISRAEL OF GOD, My mind, a short time since, was peculiarly impressed with an observation made by a minister of Christ at one of our annual meetings, in reference to the unity of the church, and he cited, with much emphasis and affection, the 4th, 5th, and 6th verses of the 4th chapter of the Ephesians as the true and scriptural test of such unity. It followed me for some time, and the Holy Ghost was pleased to open it up in some measure to my understanding; and I have been induced to put down my thoughts in some order, with a view of forwarding them to you, my dear brother, for insertion, should you consider them in any degree worthy of a place in your truly valuable repository of divine truth. I do not pretend to have discussed the subject, so comprehensive and extensive as it undoubtedly is ; but merely thrown together a few materials for others, abler and better instructed by the Holy Spirit, to work up, and illustrate, and develop the profundities of the blessed subject. But what I may be enabled to write, may it be made a blessing to the saints of God, who may be led to peruse it, and God shall have all the glory.
How clear, how emphatic, how forcible, and how conclusive this sevenfold argument used by the Holy Ghost (as contained in the following declaration), to enforce the preceding exhortations; and yet how capable of perversion by wicked, ignorant, and deluded men. “ There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Such is the blessed proclamation of the God of truth by Paul. As the Lord the Spirit shall anoint me, and give me ability to write, a word or two upon each particular.
"One body;" a part of himself; “Members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” As in union with Christ, crucified with him, buried with him, and risen with him. We are many members, and every one members one of another ; each filling our particular office where God has placed us, according to the measure of faith, given to us as he will. Yet but one body; each member, however feeble, and which we think to be less honourable, forming a part of the body, and every particular member is essential to the completion of the body, which is Christ; every one of whom, old or young, rich or poor, small or great, weak or strong, are equally and eternally beloved by the Triune Jehovah; chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; washed in his blood; conquered by his invincible grace; sanctified by his Spirit; and predestinated to glory in and with Jesus, the King of Glory. This, then, is one argument that we should " love one another as brethren, and be at peace among ourselves.” How careful should we be not to grieve or wound our brother, but on the contrary, when he is wounded or grieved, endeavour to minister unto him some of the consolations of Jesus, to heal his wounds and refresh his spirit; seeing that he is a part of ourselves, and of Jesus, our elder Brother. Let us ever remember this solemn truth, “ Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea ;” and again, “ Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.” I would affectionately recommend to the reader's consideration the follow