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Tabernacle, Jan. 10, 1789. DEAR AND HONOURED SIR, YESTERDAY I came to Tabernacle safe and well, after some delay and peril in the morning early from a rusty horse. The first five miles he went well, then would only walk and turn about, at six, when the moon went down, he fell down, and would go no further. We were now eight miles from Stevenage, sitting cold in a chaise. I betook myself lustily to the old remedy, prayer, and the Lord inclined a waggoner to lend us a horse to Stevenage, and put our rusty one into his team. Is not the Lord wonderful in working? Who would distrust him? After this deliverance, attended with many thanksgivings, I had a fresh occasion for much joy and thankfulness this morning, for your double tens for the poor, who will now be flocking for relief, like sparrows to a barley-stack in winter, and will have the comfort of your silver grains. I received your account of Mr. Hamilton, which is encouraging in the extreme, but I commit all to my master in daily prayer, telling him, the curate is not for me, but for himself, and desiring him to direct my kind friends in their search, and to direct the heart of a youth to Everton, who may profit the people. By means of constant prayer, my heart is quite at ease. Oh the blessing of faith! Thanks to my Jesus for a pittance of it. The Lord multiply daily mercies upon you, and bless your children with an heartfelt knowledge of his salvation.
I am, dear and honoured Sir, your truly affectionate, and much obliged servant,
preceived your bace I commit alles bup for himsel
To the Editors of the Gospel Magazine.
DEAR SIRO Sultors reace, and as
In a little desultory reading during the Christmas holidays, I met with the following passage, and as it expresses my thoughts on this subject, better than any language of mine can do it, I beg to transcribe it for a place in your pages.
“ Take Christ with you as your teacher, sit at his feet, learn of bim, look for more of him; read with less reference to self, and with your eye always fixed upon his character and work, and light will be poured in upon your mind, the word will be a lamp to your path, and nourishment to your soul.
" Perhaps you have contracted that habit-than which nothing is more injurious, or more demonstrative of a depraved state of the spiritual appetite-I mean the practice of spiritualizing all you
read, and being dissatisfied unless you can do 'so with facility. This is a habit to which young Christians are too frequently ad- . dicted; and give me leave to say there is nothing more calculated to blind the mind to the glory and import of what has been revealed. The attention is turned from the testimony of the Spirit, and the word is made to convey a meaning utterly diverse from the mind of him who hath spoken; and thus, not only those passages which are evidently figurative, and which require a spiritual interpretation, but every precept, every exhortation, every narrative, and every statement, is made to speak a language different from its obvious meaning, to the misleading of the reader, and to the marring of the beauty and the glory of the word.
“ This ought not so to be. The Spirit of God has conveyed his mind in the best language; and to understand what his mind is, we must take his word, for the most part, in their plain grammatical sense, and thus a greater confidence will be begotten in what is revealed, the fulfilment of prophecy will be looked for with faith and patience, divine precepts will be received as the directions of God, for plain, and positive, and present purposes ; the soul will be healthy by feeding upon wholesome nutriment, and darkness and doubtings will less embarrass it."
Allow me to add here-spiritual objects and subjects are, all along through the scriptures, represented to us by the sensible images : and indeed this appears to be the only mode by which the church of God in the time-state of her existence, can receive spiritual instruction. All our knowledge comes to us through the medium of our senses : and therefore we can form no adequate idea of any person or thing which we have never at any time seen, or heard, or touched.
When our Lord says, in accommodation to our present capacities, “ I am the vine, ye are the branches,” his language is not to be understood literally, but figuratively. So again, when the apostle speaks of Christ as a head, and bis people as members of a body, the language is figurative, and relates to a union altogether spiritual. But it is not possible, by any effort of the most ingenious imagination to convey the precious truths thus revealed in a clearer and more intelligible manner than is done by the words of scripture. The union of Christ and his church is inconceivable without the aid of sensible images. Where the scriptures have a spiritual meaning the very best images are chosen to express it; and where they have not obviously a spiritual meaning they can only be understood literally, except by the aid of the imagination, whose interpretation, varying with different persons, and often with the same persons at different times, can never be received with confidence. The allegory set forth by Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, could
Vol. IV.-No, IV.,
companie the strandmal salvatiese
never have been received by the church had it not proceeded from an inspired penman.
Persons of lively and playful imaginations often fancy resemblances when in reality there are none. For instance, Paul and his companions in voyage getting safe to land, on boards and broken pieces of the stranded ship is imagined by some good men to be figurative of the final salvation of the tempest-tossed church of God; yet there is really no resemblance, for the vessel or ark in which they sail, is never stranded and wrecked, and consequently they are not finally saved by separated planks and broken frag. ments-nay, the Lord Jesus, the ark of the everlasting covenant, is the whole and undivided salvation of every one of them. The ark, in which Noah and his family was saved, consisting of upper, second, and third story, has been supposed to imply the doctrine of the Trinity; but if this fundamental doctrine of our faith had no better support than such far-fetched imaginings, it could never be certainly known, nor successfully defended.
Many other instances might be noticed, but I will here only cite one more. In order to induce Jacob to permit Benjamin io go down into Egypt, to Joseph, Judah says to his father, (Gen. xliii. 9.)“ I will be surety for him, of my hand shalt thou require him ; if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever.” This language being imagined suitable for Christ as the Surety of the everlasting covenant, it is often quoted as having actually been spoken by him to his God and Father ; but we have no authority in scripture, unless this single text be admitted as authority in so weighty a matter-we have no scriptural authority for believing that Christ offered himself as a Mediator and Surety, but on the contrary, he was chosen, elected, called, and appointed, set up and sent by the Father. All that he is in relation to his own church he is made by the Father. " He glorified not himself to be made a high priest and Surety, but him that said unto him-Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Playing upon words may tickle the ears and fancies so as to amuse light minds, but it affords no edification nor consolation to reflecting and sober-minded persons, who can rest upon nothing but plain and solid truth. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." " Christ loved the church and gave himself for it." And in accordance with this, Paul saith, Gal. iii. 4. “ Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this evil world, according to the will of God and our Father : to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Jan. 1839.
TAB SERPENT'S FOOD, AND THE CAILDREN'S FARB FROM THE
“ The poison of asps is under their lips."
(concluded from p. 106.) I would ask, Can a man's mind be in the right, when all his prin. ciples are bad ? Vipers, inwardly full of malice, hatred, envy, bitterness, and evil speaking; it looks innocent, as if it could harm nobody, but under the garb of religion, holiness, and morality, what will such characters not do? The Redeemer calls such by the same name John did, in Matt. xii. and chap. xxiii. “ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" Fair in speech and show, but cruel and dangerous; with many such as these we have had to combat, who are of their father the devil, and the desires of their father they do. The phrase, “ Dust shalt thou eat,” implies a state of absolute subjection, for so it signifies in scriptures bis enemies shall lick the dust; they shall lick the dust like a serpent-they shall bow down to the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.” These enemies shall be totally vanquished and subdued, and lie at the feet of the conqueror. By the dust that the serpent is to eat is meant sinners against the Most High, living and dying enemies to God, Father, Son and Spirit-enemies to truth and the seed of God. This I think is clear from the declaration, “I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed," the seed of the serpent. This is the dust he is to eat ; this is his curse. These persons are the serpent's prey, and the dust he shall devour. The phrase of Satan eating, denotes the hellish pleasure he takes in the destruction of man ; for a person is supposed to eat nothing but what he loves : it is the devii's meat, his joy, his delight, to lead into sin, to get men to serve him, and to buffet, vex, and plague the saints. Fugius observes, Satan is a spirit, and must therefore require immaterial food; which can be nothing else but the sins of men, on which he feeds with pleasure. Ambrose says, that by dust we are to understand the flesh of men, on which God permits Satan to feed, that is, sometimes to torment and grieve the bodies of believers, for over their souls he has not the least command. The dust, therefore, Satan eats, is the seed spoken of as the seed of the serpent; these are called cattle, and the beasts of the field-these are Satan's portion, bear his image, and will be found like him another day even in the resurrection of the wicked, “When they shall awake, O Lord, thou wilt despise their image.” All the sins, infirmities, temptations, and troubles of God's dear people—these are the dust he feeds on. And as it is with the father serpent, so it is with his seed; his offspring a generation of vipers and serpents, they have their portion of dust to eat, and they can feed on nothing else and this every believer has seen to his grief.
What in one scripture is called the seed of the serpent, is in another called the children of the wicked one. First, Because as sinners, they are bis offspring. Secondly, Because they are like him, and bear the same names, a liar, a lion, a serpent, a destroyer, and an enemy; and because they bear his image, do his works, and obey his commands; their food is alike-dust is their meat as well as his. This is another point we shall discover. Man having lost the image of God, left the fountain of his bliss and satisfaction ; his mind soon became vitiated-a vacancy being in it, he seeks to fill the empty space with any thing, and every thing but God. This is the state of every man by nature; this the believer can remember with regret, and can now look back on his former folly in sorsaking the fountain, and cleaving to the stream of creaturesatisfaction. Changed by grace, he views his fellow-immortals seeking for that which will never satisfy him.
The miser, a poor grovelling serpent, feeding on white and yel. low dust,
“ Throwing up his int'rest in loth worlds,
First starv'd in this, then damn’d in that to come.”BLAIR. “ He heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them. He layeth up silver as the dust-he panteth after the dust of the earth.” Thus such serpents eat the dust, while their covetous hearts are perpetually crying, " Give ! Give !" " They grudge, and are not satisfied.” All the rain pursuits, carnal gratifications, sensual delights, and that phantom called pleasure, which a worldJing strives for, is but trying to fill the mind with dust. Hence the prophet Isaiah represents them as a people dreaming, “ They have been eating and drinking, and when they awake up, behold they are hungry.” Isaiah xxix. Hence David prays, “And let me not eat of their dainties.” For all that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life-these are not of the Father, but of the world—these are ashes, and the dust they feed on. Men of persecuting spirit, wliose hearts rise against God, religion, and the dear Saviour, the work of the Spirit, and all saints
these are said to feed on the saints; they are well pleased at every species of persecution ; “ They eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon God.” “When my foes came upon me to eat my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” Hence David prays, “ Deliver me from the men who are thy sword, O Lord, whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasures." Thus, like Satan, they wait to eat, to devour, to destroy the Lord's people, who are called dust. “I that am dust and ashes, have taken upon me to speak to the Lord.” “ Who can number the dust of Jacob? Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof,”
Erroneous characters, who have been in a profession of the truth, and who have left it and turned again like a washed swine to the mire; who have taken seven other spirits, far worse than before