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Vol. IV.—No. I. Of a FIFTH SERIES, for JANUARY, 1839.
“ In doctrine shewing uncorruptness." “ Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees which is Hypocrisy." “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday to-day and for ever. Whom to know is life
A SALUTATION TO THE ONE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, SCAT
TERED IN THE MIDST OF A WICKED AND NAUGHTY WORLD, UPON THE OPENING OF THE YEAR OF OUR LORD GOD, 1839.
FELLOW-PILGRIMS, and heirs of the same grace, by which we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, Eph. ii. 8. In the name of Him whose we are, and who by a great deliverance has spared our lives unto the present moment, would we greet you upon the interesting occasion of entering upon the threshold of another year, which to many will be the sum total of their sojourning in these low lands, and to all an advancement towards the obtaining of that majority to which they are by grace entitled. “For here the heir,” as long as he is in his nonage, “ differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all,” Gal. jv. 4 ; and that here we have no continuing city, the flitted moments of every past year fully corroborate, while the inspired lips of divine truth make known to us there remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God, Heb. iv. 9. Thus year after year of our earthly pilgrimage pass under the crowning goodness of Him who remembereth his covenant, and the oath that he sware unto our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for evermore. Standing upon the present eminence, and remembering all the way the Lord our God has led us, we cannot but acknowledge that the whole has come forth“ from the Lord of Hosts, which is wonderful in council and excellent in working.” Isa. xxviii. 29. It is no small mercy for us, that none of the changes to which the Lord's church is sub. jected in her time-state can affect the foundation, for that is laid in the Holy Mount of his eternal good pleasure, who has purposed all things in himself ; yet we cannot remain ignorant of her present state of languishing, and the great inroad made upon her by the
Vol. IV.No. 1.
ravenous beasts who seek to destroy. The plaintive language of the prophet is too truly verified, “ All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they kiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty-the joy of the whole earth,” Sam. ij. 15. Alas, for the time is fast has. tening for the abomination that maketh desolate to be set up, when the Mother of Harlots shall make drunk with her fornications the kings of the earth. Upon this sea of glass mingled with fire we stand, and though all nature shall feel the shock and be convulsed, the Lord of Hosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Therefore, being not ignorant of the devices of Satan, we well know the fightings from without, with the fears within, to which you will be subjected during the remainder of your pilgrimage here on earth; and while the gathering clouds of the hemisphere indicate the portentous events that are fast hastening upon us, “may the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, so strengthen, settle, and stablish you, that after suffering awhile his pleasure, you may each of you find rest in the house of her husband.” Ruth i, 9.
There is an indescribable blessedness connected with the act of being enabled to view all our fresh springs to be in and of the Lord, and it more than counterbalances for all the trials by the way of sickness and disease, to which in this land of drought and famine we are exposed ; and it gives power and energy to every gracious influence in the exercise of which we desire to be found ; and this it was wbich shed so bright a lustre over the conduct of the godly matron Naomi, in her affectionate regard towards her two daughters-in-law, who with herself had drank so deep of the bitter waters of Mara. Like her, from another year's sojourning in this Moab state, we have had proofs upon proof that it is not our rest; while occasionally we have been also reminded of the Lord's visitations to his own people, therefore feel a strong desire to reach the highly favoured country, and shall we not accompany those desires with affection to your words, amidst the conflicts and exercises you are called unto, “ that the Lord may grant you to find rest, each of you in the house of her Husband."
There is no character sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ, under which he becomes more endeared unto his people, than that of the Husband, combined as there is in it the twofold blessing of rela. tionship and affection. Hence he is said to have so loved the church as to have gave himself for her, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to bimself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blame, Eph. V. 26, 27; and so jodispensable is the union between them, that all the state of apostacy into which she has fallen, has never produced from his hand a bill of divorcement, Isa. 1. i ; nay, more, for when calling upon and inviting her to retrace the wandering steps by which she had departed from him, the whole is based upon this sweet act, which he allows by no means to be obliterated, though overlooked in a great measure by her, “ Return unto me, ye backsliding children, for I am married unto you,” Jer. iji. 14 ; and, again, “ Thy Master is thy Husband,” Isa. liv. 5. Therefore he engaged to take out of her mouth the name of Baoli, and she shall call him. Ishi, which signifies Husband; and she shall know him in that act of betrothing her unto himself, so that she shall be sown unto him in the earth, and she shall obtain mercy who had not obtained it, Hosea ii.; throughout, a thousand beauties of the character seems lost, from not entering in to the full import of the word Husband : the ancient mode of expression conveyed far more than our present word : it was that of House-band, by which was not only understood the stay and support, but also the provider and protector of the house. Thus the character surpasseth that of all others in the chain of relationship, and is unquestionably the first link thereof, as shewn by the Lord himself in the ordination of the marriage union, " For which cause a man was to leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and the twain should be one flesh.”. Yet this natural oneness and union exist only by the tye of upcertainty, which sooner or later will be dissevered by the unconquerable arm of death, the heir-loom of every descendant from a sinful head; not so with the everlasting Husband, the Lord Jesus Cbrist ; from him no death can divide; but as the House-band of his church he ties and binds every member unto himself, and con. sequently becomes their sole strength and support, amply providing for all their exigencies in this vale of sorrow, and finally their everlasting rest : in bis house there is bread enough and to spare ; and with him there is that seamless robe of his own righteousness, wbich covers over all the sinners nakedness and imperfection from the keen and piercing eye of that law, whose strength is in no way abated; but still causeth every one that continueth not in all things written therein to do them ; in him the poor and needy find the most affectionate and tender Husbands; in his house is it they find rest : and there also the good Lord grant you may have grace both to seek and find it.
In the arithmetic of nature we calculate our time by the process of days, months, and years, and therefore speak of the commence. ment or close as it may happen with us, while the unerring lips of scripture views the whole in the aggregate, and declares that “ Man is born to trouble;' and enough has been shewn to us, that even our grace state, por union with our all-glorious Husband, exempts us from being participators in the daily calamities which abound in the earth; nor can the children of God be silent spectators of the apparent destruction which is fast approaching to us: for the afflictions of Joseph becomes more or less our own, which makes us desirous of enjoying that rest which is in reversjor for the people of God; and here no doubt with many, an exercise of mind will arise
regarding the lot or part they may have with this distinguished and peculiar people; for we know well, by experience, that though the title deeds are enrolled among the archives of heaven, yea, possession already taken for us: yet every step we take is still disputed by the great enemy of our salvation.
My fellow-pilgrims, allow us to turn over, or rather turn ye over a few pages of that vast volume which has accumulated during the past years of your eventful pilgrimage, and see how far you can discover an analogy with the records of that noble company, who through faith and patience inherit the promises, and while here be. low were subjected to those things which are now accomplishing in their brethren who are in the world: if pleasure be afforded in beholding the darkness of night giving place to the break of day, much greater is that which we enjoy when tracing the time when, and the manner how, we were trapslated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son ; brought from that state of vassalage which by nature we were under, to serve in the newness of the Spirit; being found among those who worship God in the Spirit, having no confidence in the flesh; nor can there be a greater distance between light and darkness, than there is between us as children of nature and us the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. Under the former state, we are aliens and open enemies to God by wicked works; and, under the latter, we are brought to hate those very works, abhoring ourselves in dust and ashes, and, like the publican, venting forth our sorrows at his feet, with “God be merciful to us sinners." Nor is this all ; for in every after stage must the distinction be kept up, and an evidence both seen and felt of the works of the Aesh and the Spirit. The characteristic features of the children of God is the possession as it were of the company of two armies not drawn up under the standard of peace, but with the greatest of hostility, waging the most determined opposition to each other; from which things, the poor child of God is sorely distressed ; and, notwithstanding all that has been shewn to the contrary, often concludes he shall one day fall by the malice of his foes—the workings of his innate depravity being such, that at times he can hardly decide whether he has been delivered from the bondage of corruption, daily tossed and not comforted, driven by famine, and the sickness and consumption attendant upon all creature's enjoyments, like the godly Naomi he grieves to see the hand of the Lord going out against him. Yet hope receives a sweet lifting up, when reminded of the Lord's visitations to his people; and amidst the ruin and devastation there ariseth a holy resolution of returning; but, alas, what obstacles are found in the way; and from the poor creature's inability to perform, he is subjected to such disquietude: thus the months are filled in with vanity, with little else presented to view save sorrow and vexation of spirit. Yet how often is the force of that sweet scripture felt,“ rest to the labouring man is sweet ;' but the difficulty lies in the obtaining it, from our short-sightedness and little attainments in the divine science : but when “the Lord shall put his hand the second time to recover the remnant of his people, the root of Jesse shall stand for an ensign to which the Gentiles shall seek, and his rest shall be glorious," Isa, xi. 10. My brethren, are we found amongst these seekers, and if so, is it not from the desire to obtain rest, which is to be found in the house of our Husband, of which the prophet is commissioned to speak so blessedly. "And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt say, How hath the oppressor ceased, the golden city ceased,” Isa. xiv. 3, 4; therefore may grace be given you from the Lord that ye may “ stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls,” Jer. vi. 16. You have hitherto, brethren, enjoyed these things in the house of your Husband: go forward, there is much in reversion, and the prospect is cheering before us; and we have great encouragement to use for ourselves and each other. The sweet language of David, “ Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord has deait bountifully with us.” Ps. xvi. 7.
It is not with us to measure out what yet remains to be filled in unto you of the world's woe: secret things belong unto the Lord our God, and his words do sweetly assure us, “ that the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous,” Ps. cxxv. 3 : the affection of thy Husband can in no way cease toward you, for whether thou be called to pass the remainder of thy days in the water or fire, be stands engaged to be with thee, for he says, and his promise cannot fail, “ When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, and in all the furnace work appointed thee, he will sit as the refiner to purge away thy tin and dross, that the vessel may come forth fit for the master's use.” Cheer up then under all your disquietudes ; it is but a little while, and you shall find rest in the house of your Husband. Let the time past suffice you, that though in an enemy's country, and meeting with all the unkind and unfriendly treatment of its inhabitants, amongst whom your rest is not found, you have one who will never leave nor forsake you, but will continue to cheer you with his presence-sweetly invite you as the poor and needy to come unto him-promising, at the same time, to give you rest.
The alarm is already sounded, and there is no prospect that you will be called to ground your arms, until the arıour be taken off at death; therefore be courageous, and aquit yourselves like men ; for you we breathe the warmest of affection, and desire to salute you upon the opening year with the holy kiss of brotherly love, in his name; and pray, that through all the successive stages of your pilgrimage, you may be in the hands of Hiin who is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before his presence,