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The “ best Robe bought, and costly bread and wine
And takes thee with him to his bless'd abode.
A FEW WANTS OF A CHILD.
LORD, that my mental eye may see
EPITAPH TO THE MEMORY OF WALTER ROW, FORTY-FOUR
Fall'n by Death's fatal axe, here lies low
EPITAPH FOR THE TOMB OF THE LATE BELOVED EDITOR OF
THE GOSPEL MAGAZINE.
AN OLD CORRESPONDENT.
Vol. IV.—No. XI. Of a FIFTH SERIES, for NOVEMBER, 1839.
“ In doctrine shewing uncorruptness." “ Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees which is Hypocrisy." “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday to-day anl for ever. Whom to know is life
THE CHURCH GUIDED, PRESERVED, AND MADE TRIUMPHANT IN
ALL AGES BY DIVINE AID.
IT is truly delightful to the mind of the christian to consider the wonderful, and divine interposition of Almighty God, put forth in behalf of his church, in every age; delivering it from every seeming destruction, rescuing it out of the hands of its enemies; and often, when in the lowest depths of adversity, raising it up again to prosperity and happiness. This is a never-failing source of consolation to the humble follower of Christ, in the present as well as in the the future condition of the church: knowing that as God's omnipotent power has defended it, “ as with a shield,” in past generations and difficulties, and has at the same time given his pledge of continuance for the future, saying, " I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Josh. i. 5. “ I will not forsake my people.” 1 Kings vi. 13. but lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Mark xxviii. 20. Hence, observe, from God's past conduct and love to his church, and his unfailing pledge for the future, every true believer is led to rejoice in the certainty of the fulfilment of the promises of God, in the covenant of grace, respecting his church.
In the fourth chapter of Zechariah, we have a very comfortable vision, which as it was explained for the prophet, had much in it for the encouragement of the people of God in their present straits, which were so great that they thought their case hopeless, that their temple could never be rebuilt, nor their city replenished ; and therefore the scope of this vision is, to shew that God would by his own power, perfect the work, though the assistance given to it by its friends were ever so weak, and the resistance, by its enemies, were VOL. IV.-No. XI.
ever so strong. So the church of God has, in all ages, had those who hare strenuously opposed the welfare thereof; and at some times it has been so reduced as to be supposed by its friends almost extinct, yet the favour of God has been so remarkably manifested in its past support, that when the number of his elect shall be completed, which it certainly shall be, the topstone shall be brought up with shoutings, crying, “ Grace, grace unto it.”
In order to shew that the safety and prosperity of the church do not depend upon human agency, I will endeavour to bring it before you, froin its commencement, in all its vicissitudes, up to the present time, for by so doing, we shall see that the salvation of the church generally, as of every individual composing the same, is altogether of grace ; and that the last soul, when brought into glory, will be with shoutings of grace. From the creation to the end of the world, the church has been, is, and will be continued; and is a spiritual, holy, regular, and more or less a visible society, of which Christ is, and always has been the only foundation and head
No sooner had our first parents by their disobedience introduced sin into our world, than God made known the determinations of his mind to save out of mankind those whom he purposed to bring to glory through Jesus Christ, hence called the elect. The first exhi. bition of this saving grace, was manifested in the conduct of Abel; to him it seemed most probable, that God would give abilities and graces to be his first representative, and as if by his agency, the true knowledge of Jehovah was to be handed down to posterity. And therefore now there is an opening prospect, that a church will be collected out of the rising generation to glorify God. But all on a sudden the heavens gather blackness, and a threatening storm appears. Cain rises up against Abel his brother, in consequence of his being more devotedly attached to God, and slew him. Thus all hopes of the church's future prosperity were at once blighted, and it was left alone without any public earthly advocate. But God's determinations are not thus to be frustrated; for he gave to Adam another son named Seth, by whose family he continued to be worshipped ; and the church, for a time, presented a cheering prospect, until the posterity of Seth was corrupted, and mingled with the wicked. Sin was added to sin, men forsook the worship of the true God; and at last their degeneracy was so universal that the earth was filled with crimes, and God resolved upon their total destruction by sending a flood. Here, to all human probability, the church seems again to have arrived at its final termination : but grace appears, and God manifests his choice of Noah and his family, consisting only of eight persons, and saves them, as by a miracle, from the general overthrow, to carry on and fulfil his righteous designs in future ages. By this sad catastrophe of the flood, the whole human race was destroyed, with the exception of this one small family, proving the truth of scriprure, which saith, Christ's flock is a little flock, and that salvation is by grace.
Noah being come out of the ark, after the deluge, commenced the worship of the true God, by offering sacrifice. But as mankind again increased, their sins likewise began to multiply; and in their pride and vanity they began to erect a tower whose top might reach to heaven, to save them in futnre exigencies ; thereby despising God's providence, taking away, as it were, faith and reliance on him. To punish their presumptuous wickedness, he scattered them abroad on the face of the earth ; and then idolatry began to prevail to such an amazing extent, that the church's destruction appeared inevitable. Grace was again put forth, and God chose Abraham, who lived at that time at Chaldea; and appointed him to leave his country: he engaged him to serve him, and commanded him to depart into the land of Canaan, and he promised to give that country to his descendants, to multiply his posterity, and that the Messiah should be born of his race. Hence, the family of Abraham, till the time of Christ, was considered by God as his church. Therefore in following this family through all its wanderings, we shall see fresh proofs for an unshaken confidence in God's unalterable decrees.
Behold the church, composed only of one man and his small family, wandering in a strange country, surrounded by idolators, immersed in dangers, with no prospect of an issue, to transmit to future time, the belief and practice of the true religion. At one time engaged in war, at another likely to die for the sake of his wife, and at last grown old, without any one to succeed him in the government of the church. How dark and dreary is the prospect! But, behold, on a sudden, a light breaks forth, and sovereign grace once more appears. To Abraham in his old age a son is given. The clouds disperse their darkness, the prospect brightens, and God does not leave himself without a witness. Grace, grace is the cause ! Seeming prosperity is evidently about to be given. In Isaac, we may suppose, the church will find a warm friend, and a strenuous advocate. An inasmuch as he is to be the successor of the Father of the Faithful, we may reasonexpect, that under his government, spiritual knowledge will be diffused, and the church to be established on such a basis as not to be afterwards shaken.
Salvation belongeth to the Lord. He seeth not as man seeth : and when he pleaseth to fulfil his wise and generous designs, he requireth not human aid to make up any seeming deficiency. At the period when Isaac was about to present himself as the representative of the church, God immediately commands his father to take and slay him. How gloomy the idea ! The supposed ambassador is taken, bound, and laid upon the pile, the knife is extended, the victim seized, and a moment longer, and-grace, grace cries out, “ Jay not thine hand upon the lad,” and “ because thou hast not spared thy son, in blessing will I bless thee, and multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven.” Who can doubt, now, but that the topstone shall be brought up with shoutings of grace. From this period the church and promised seed passed through various dispensations, and was for a season ap
parently in great prosperity, until through pride and envy it was car. ried down into Egypt, in Jacob's time, into the midst of heathens and idolators; and there it encountered a numerous train of hardships, for very many years, and no prospect of deliverance seemed to offer, until God, by the exbibition of some of the most astonishing miracles ever heard of, came forward in their behalf, and rescued them from captivity under the directing influence of Moses, bringing them out with a high hand, and an outstretched arm. But they no sooner enjoyed the happiness of liberty, when fresh dangers intimidated them, and threatened their annihilation immediately. Pharoah with a mighty army eagerly pursued them, and was so intent upon their destruction, that he drove them to the very borders of the Red Sea, there fully expecting to reduce them to their former bondage or entirely to cut them off. At the very moment when the Egyptians were about to triumph, God parted the waters of the sea asunder, his people went safely through, and their enemies attempting to follow them were all drowned in the mighty deep, by the Almighty's causing the return of the waters. Who could have anticipated salvation in such a case: A powerful army behind and the raging sea before, and they themselves entirely unfit for war. Grace is the cause; God fights for them and victory is theirs.
During their stay in the wilderness, through their wickedness, they were beset on every hand with a multitude of evils. At one time they were ready to die with thirst; when God directed them to Marah : but although they found plenty of waters there, still they were so bitter that they could not drink, and death appeared to stare them in the face. Grace directed them to a certain tree, the healiog virtues of which made the waters sweet. At another time they were perishing with hunger, and God sent them bread from heaven. Surrounded by the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Pizzites, the Hivites, and Jebusites, with no prospect of victory or deliverance; yet God subdues all these nations to their sway. Fiery serpents came afterwards ainongst them, and began their horrible work of destruction, by biting the people of Israel, and numbers of them died, and the death of the whole might have been expected. Still they were spared by God's intervention of the brazen serpent, and a remnant was spared according to the election of grace. Balak's enmity, and Balaam's secret intentions are turned into blessings. Through many and great salvations, they are at last settled in the promised land. From hence a long series both of prosperous and adverse circumstances awaited them, till the times of the Kings; when in the days of Elijah the church was again so apparently reduced, as led the prophet to suppose, that it centered alone in his own heart. But God silenced his fears, by informing him he had reserved to himself seven thousand men, who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. From the days of Elijah it seemed to be more or less prosperous to the days of Josiah, after which it began rapidly to decline, until Zedekiah the king of Judah was taken captive; his sons were slain, his own eyes