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Israel, my family is poor, and I the least in my father's house." Gideon suppo-es that he is called upon to contend with the multitude of these enemies in his own strength: he looks at himself, and not on ihe Lord, who looked upon him, and who again speaks, and in the plenitude of his condescension and forbearance, gives him a repeated assurance of his being with him, and a promise that he shall sinite the Midianites. Gideon now manifests a little faith : but 0, slow of heart to believe, it is scarcely removed from doubt. If now I have found grace-if it be indeed true, shew me a sign, let my eyes behold something, to convince me that thou talkest with me. Gideon's entreaties were not rejected, he departs to prepare a present, and the Lord says, “ I will tarry until thou coine again.” It is now, “ what shall I do?" and Gideon runs from the Lord, to give him a feast of his own providing : but when the angel of the Lord consumes Gideou's offering of flesh upon the rock, and departs out of his sight; then his eyes are opened, and be exclaims, “ Alas, O Lord God!" What gracious words then come to the ears of the trembling Gideon.
6. Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.” No longer doubtin; of Jehovah's presence, Gideon builds an altar to the Lord, instead of coming with his fleshly offerings; and the same night receives a command, which he obeys : but Gideon is not yet strong in frith: he fears bis father's household, and the men of the city; and goes by night to destroy the altar of Baal. As thy day, so shall be thy strength; and Gideon will have his faith increased (not increase it himself) for the accomplishment of the great work appointed for him. Now the enemies of Israel are gathered together. But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and be sounded the trumpet; his own people are gathered after him : he sends messengers to some of the tribes, and they come up to meet him. But Gideon cannot be satisfie. without a sign again from God. If thou wilt save Israel by my hand (Gideon is brought out of self, it is not now “ shall 1 sare Israei”) as thou hast said-if thou art indeed unchangeable--if indeed true to thy promise. Ah! is Gideon a solitary instance of thus doubting the word of the Lord
-disbelieving his promises ; the reality of his performing that which he had spoken? Gideon's eyes must behold a miracle-and he has what he asks for-but this will not suffice-be entreats to have it reversed, and the Lord in his inanite loving kindness and compassion for the weakness of human nature, remembering we are but dust, grants the request. The 9th chap. to the 15th ver. exhibits a great increase in Gideon's faith: his character as. sumes a new aspect, bis faith is brought into exercise, and he obeys the Lord's commands without hesitation, argument, a murmur, or a request. It might at first be conjectured, his faith was strengthened, from having such an army to assist him, in the expected battle ; and perhaps when Gideon and all the people pitched b-side the well of Heron, with the host of Midianites beneath
them in the valley, he might posibly have experienced a little confidence from being surrounded by thirty-two thousand armed
But Gideon was not permitted to boast in human aid, nor Israel to vaunt themselves against the Lord : he was commanded to let those who were fearful and afraid, depart; and twenty and two thousand, were neither ashamed nor afraid, to acknowledge their timidity. Gideon had tried and proved the Lord-and the Lord was now about to prove Gideon-his army must still be les. sened, and without asking Jehovah-what dost thou ? he brought his ten thousand to the appointed test. 6. And the Lord said unto Gideon, by the three hundred tha: lapped. will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand. Gideon could now take the word of the Lord--and it is heart cheering to view the promptness with which he acts.
A personal trial now awaited him, and here let the tenderness and loving kindness of the Lord be particularly noticed, who never tries his children beyond what they are able to bear; “ Arise, get thee down unto the host, but if thou fear, go thou with Phurah thy servant," and Gideon was not so high minded as to reject the Lord's gracious permission. Gideon now appears strong in faith, ready and willing to do whatsoever the Lord coinmands; he no longer doubts the presence of Israel's Goil, nor looks at self, nor asks for signs; he goes to hear what the Lord has appointed for him to hear, and when he heard he worshipped ; he not only hears but believes, not only believes but acts. From the 15th to the 23rd verse, I am led to view his decision, the means he uses, and the result; he returns to the host of Israel, and gives a proof of his perfect confidence in God “ Arise, for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” He delay's not; his time is come for action : he summons his little band, arranges, furnishes, instructs them; himself leading the first little company, Setting the example of the means to be resorted to; he is no longer coming with rneat offerings and sacrifices, but is obeying the Lord; trusting, believiny, acting for him ; instantly comes forth, gives the command, do as I do and say " the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” scatters the enemies, delivers them into the bands of the nien of Israel, who gathered themselves together and pursued after them. This is that Gideon who set out with questioning, doubting, trying the Lord, looking at self and seeking for signs. And this concludes the progression of his faith. Fearful of encroach. ing, I shall make but a few remarks on his character, contained in the 8th chap., leaving it with the believer to make the application. The experienced may look back and bless God for the great things he has done for them ; the inexperienced may be encouraged by seeing a “ GOD ALL SUFFICIENT.”
The truly wise will give the fool the empty honour that he seeks. Great minds may be seen in the trifles that weak minds make important. The inen of Ephraim, instead of praising God for the deliverance he had wrought by the sword of Gideon, chid sharply with him, because they were not called when be first went out to batile; but Gideon had been acting under the Lord's d rection, and the confidence he manifested in him at last, fully proves, that he must have been too much impressed with the honour put upon him by God, to care for or seek the praise of man. " What have I done now in comparison of you?" And how simply is the weakness of human nature portrayed in few words, " Then their anger was abated towards him when he said that." Gideon had neither time nor desire to contend for earthly honours; he was persevering in the work of the Lord; with his three hundred, though faint, he was yet pursuing. From the 5th to the 21st verse he exemplifies the retribution under the law-an eye for an eye-and the mind cannot but observe the distinction between the law and gospel. Our great law fulfiller says-bless those that curse you, &c. &c. The christian leaves retribution for God, to whom vengeance belongeih, and if his enemy hunger he will feed him, that in so doing he may melt him into kindness. In the 22d and 23d verses Gideon gives a stronger proof than before of his greatness of mind, by refusing the honour offered to him-" I will not rule over you, the Lord shall rule over you." The conclusion gives a deep lesson to human pride. Weakness and fallibility is the lot of man ; and this is often proved to the christian, who is frequently permitted to fall into a snare, after having been elevated above measure : Gideon could refuse the honour of being king over Israel (for though we may primarily trace the sovereignty of God, Israel's time for a king not being coine, yet there are second causes by which man acts) he could refuse this, yet could desire the golden earrings which proved a spare to all Israel, as well as to himself and his house. Here then we receive a warning; we have seen what man can do, with God for bis helper, we here see what he is, left to himself.
Jan. 1839. A FEMALE WANDERER IN THE WILDERNESS.
. To the Editor. · MY DEAR SIR: I HAVE commenced my first offering in the New Year, with con, gratulations to yourself and all who love the truth. That you are indeed permitted to continue at your station, calls for unbounded thanks to God, more particularly when we consider the evil days that are come. We cannot surely look with indifference on the special providence of God. For three and forty years occupying one post, true and faithful to your Lord, and at an advanced age retaining the powers of your mind in such clearness and vigour! This cannot be deemed battery. I am solemnly imprest with the consideration. I offer some remarks on the character of Gideon, if you think them worth a place in your publication, which, the
Lord give you strength to continue. Yours respectfully, with the greatest esteem and respect,
Jan. 1833. A FEMALE WANDERER IN THE WILDERNESS.
To the Editors of the Gospel Mugazine. THE BISHOP OF LONDON AND THE CITY MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
DEAR SIRS, The Bishop of London, in an interview with the committee of the London City Mission, (in which he appears in his true bigotry,) said, that the chapel of St. John's Bedford Row, now occupied by the Rev. Mr. Noel, is an unconsecrated one. This appearing like an excuse, I would ask whether Mr. Cecil, Mr. Wilson (now Bishop of Calcutta,) and inany others, would have preached in that chapel unless it had been consecrated? And if not consecrated, why have so many Prelates of the Church of England committed themselves by preaching in it?
If you would be so kind as to inform me through the medium of your excellent magazine, I shall feel extremely obliged. I ain, dear Sirs, yours in the best of bunds, Jan. 19ih. 1839.
A CONSTANT READER. Note OF THE EDITORS. We should have every reason to suppose, that the above chapel, namely St. John's Bedford Row, was as regular a constituted place of worship in the Establishment, as any parochial church in the metropolis, as being always devoted, without exception, to the clergy of the Church of England, and to the best of our recollection Dr. Louth, the then Bishop of London, preached a charity sermop therein in the year 1772. In 1776 there was an agreement drawn up by the incumbent of the chapel, Mr. Jones, the regular clergyman, and the trustees thereof, to dispose of the lease to two friends of Mr. Toplady's, but bis pulmonary disorder increasing, put a stop at the time to the negotiation. Notwithstanding this impediment, it was never lost sight of, but was revived again after the death of that eminent servant of God. And as Mr. Cecil was Mr. Toplady's successor at Orange Street Then, a regular episcopal French' Huguenot chapel, the same party finally adjusted the negotiation, and Mr. Cecil acceded, and was the appointed minister of St. John's.
We sadly apprehend that our Ecclesiastical rulers, at the helm, who wish to see our public standard Arminianised, would throw every impediment in the way of good men, lest their favourite Diana should totier. Indeed we live in the most critical times, when corrupt innovations are not only creeping in among us, but çoining in with a full tide, insomuch as Actum est may serve for an epitaph on all that is valuable in the establishment. Nor will the Dissenter, however much he may have helped on in this destructive warfare, fare better when the day of trial shall arrive, which is now coming on swiftly, and if we may judge from human probability, there is no escape; we have been sowing, and we must expect the reaping time. But let this be the comfort of the true believer, that there is one without whose consent the enemy can do nothing; as the excellent Bucer said with his dying lips, “ Ille, ille regit et moderatur omnia."
The above letter was accompanied with a publication entitled “The London City Missionary Magazine,” the plan of which is, to distribute in various districts, on loan, the scriptures and tracts, so as to be the means, it is said, to “ the revival of piety and the increase of divine knowledge, the awakening of many unconverted persons, and the comfort of the aged and afflicted, or who are unblessed with the true sayings of God.”
All such endeavours are certainly praiseworthy, in lessening if possible the masses of evil and wickedness that exist. But then we would ask, what have the generations of our forefathers been doing in olden times, and what must we think of our country being left in such a state of barbarism, while millions of money have been collected and expended to convert the heathen abroad, and the heathen at home is thought nothing of. It is like madmen, when their own city is in a blaze, running to a distant land to extinguish a foreign district.
The first grand work we wish to see at home is, and what is the duty of every one that has ability is, to ameliorate suffering humanity. Before you are so generous to give spiritual food, let the hand be stretched out to the needy and oppressed, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, so that if possible the voice of joy and gladness may be heard in our streets and cottages. But to put into the hands of a starved mendicant the word of God, is an insult to the sensitive feelings, it is giving the priest’s blessing when he should have bestowed alms. And here we revert to our former observations, that had the money that has been expended for the last half century upon speculative aberrations, which deserve no better epithet, been directed to the civilizing of our own people and the wretched natives of Ireland, who are in a state of idolatrythere would have been a soil of civilization, ready to throw in the seed of eternal life. This is man's duty, yes, it is his imperative duty, the conversion of a soul belongs to God and to him alone. He will seek the flock of his pasture, and in the day he maketh up his jewels, not one shall be wanting. He will accomplish the number of his elect, and then hasten his kingdom.
But to represent the Almighty as wishing to convert the whole of the human race, so as to come to the knowledge of the truth, and cannot accomplish his desire, having not the ways and means, but Vol. IV.- No. II.