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"COMFORT YE, COMFORT YB MY PEOPLE, SAITH YOUR GOD."
" ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OP PEA E." “JESUS CHRIST, THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER.” " WHOM TO KNOW IS LIFE ETERXAL.
NEW SERIES. }
The Family Portion;
OR, WORDS OF SPIRITUAL CAUTION, COUNSEL, AND COMPORT. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any
trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”—2 Cor. i. 4.
MEMORIALS OF MERCY; OR, THE CLOSING UP OF
OUR THIRTY-FOURTH YEAR'S EDITORSHIP. “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not ; until I have shewed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to every one that is to come.” PSALM lxxi. 17, 18. IF it behoved the people of God of old to set up their “stones of help” at their “ Bethels,” and by the Red Sea, and at Jordan; and if between Mizpeh and Shen “Ebenezer” was to be recorded, in proof that “hitherto the Lord had helped ; " surely it is not less incumbent
the members of the household of faith now to record the love-acts of Jehovah and to testify to divine faithfulness and allsufficiency, especially in such a God-dishonouring, Christ-despising, and Bible-disputing age as that in which we live.
The present day we consider to be most contradictory. On the one hand, men hate the truth; on the other hand, men hide it. The former despise and deny it; the latter and among these are some of whom better things might be hoped—fail to testify of the righteous acts of the Lord. Either from pride or cowardice, or an admixture of the two, the Lord's mercies are allowed to
"Lie buried in forgetfulness,
And without praises die.” Were the Psalmist now living, and did he venture to say at the present what he did in days of old, “Come, all ye that fear God, and I will declare to you what He hath done for my soul,” he would be denounced as an egotist indeed. Now, these prejudices arise either from a personal ignorance of the Spirit's work in the soul, or else from a failing to see that a true disciple of Christ wants, in all he says and does, to point like a finger-post (QF) to his Lord! The language both of his lip and life he would ever have to be, in common with Paul, “ Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Reader, be it ours never to lose sight of the fact, that the Psalmist was continually testifying of what the Lord had done aforetime. Speaking of those things, he says, “which we have heard, and known, and our fathers have told us." May we never forget, either, how in like manner he desired that after-generations should experience and enjoy similar benefits. “We will not,” he adds, “hide them from their children, shewing to the generations to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.” Yea, moreover, the Psalmist testifies to the solemn injunction that was laid upon the Old Testament Church, where he says, “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children : that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments (Psalm lxxviii. 5—7).
Reader, who, think you, will ever be able duly to estimate the blessing which has arisen from the recorded experiences of the Lord's dear children, not merely in Bible-times, but since ? How true has it ever been found, and will be to the end of time, “as in water face answereth to face, so doth the heart of man to man.” How equally true it is, “ that as iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend.”
We have been lately reading some of Huntington's Posthumous Letters and Triggs' Memorial; and, although we gladly pass by what both the one and the other say of men, yet, when they come to open up their own personal experiences, oh, how have we rejoiced to trace our own footsteps; to see that the very path we are called to traverse is precisely that which they had both long since trodden, Hence follows the mercy
“We are travelling home to God,
Soon their happiness shall see.” The bodily ailments under which personally we have for so long time suffered—such as extreme giddiness, and apprehending a seizure
is precisely that of which dear Mr. Triggs speaks, and which was attended with no little exercise in the flesh, as to what the Lord was about to do with him, especially when he was called to stand before the people. Reader, this is no trifling matter, we assure you. Anxious, under the circumstances, to have a clear line of thought, true spiritual insight into the Word-calmness, self-possession, and a door of utterance; yet, perhaps, at the same time, have enough to do even to stand upright; yea, obliged to grasp the pulpit-board for fear of falling. Yet, even in this very condition, permitted and privileged to realize there and then divine faithfulness and divine all-sufficiency. The enemy sneering and taunting with, “You'll lose your senses directly ; you'll talk nonsense ; you'll fall; you'll die.” “Well, devil, be it so; the Lord's will be done. Here I am -His servant-at His bidding-doing His work - at least desirous of speaking well of His dear and ever-adorable name; therefore, if I am to drop in the work-to fall in harness-So much the better." Ah, dear reader, these are precious verities. The enemy outdoes himself. Many a feast has he thus unwittingly helped the Lord's servants to. We know one such servant who years ago stood in the pulpit, expecting every moment a bullet to pass through his head, his life having been repeatedly threatened; but (blessed be God !) he was rendered at the time so perfectly calm and utterly free from fear as to feel he would not move his head aside a single inch in order to escape what he then considered would have been an enviable way of closing up his humble testimony for God and truth.
Again, in the comparison of notes, or touching upon each other's experien what lifts and encouragements are obtained by the way, For example, the post of this morning brings a record of the beloved “ Wayside Note” writer, in which he says
“May we tell you, dear fearful ones, a secret on this matter? We have, as you know, been brought, like Epaphroditus, nigh unto death.' Ah! then we had not a single fear concerning Jordan; but during our conscious moments felt that we were resting peacefully upon the bosom of our dear Redeemer ; but since our restoration, and again in the midst of life, we have had fears and tremblings concerning the end of a character not before felt and realized. But what do we gather from this ? Why, that, whatever fears and forebodings we have now, when it comes to the hushed chamber of death with us, they will all vanish ; dying grace will be given for a dying hour, and you will find that
“Just in the last distressing hour,
The Lord displays delivering power;
Where we shall see surprising grace.' Now, nothing could have more fully chimed in with our own personal experience than this; and the exercises of our dear brother, GEORGE Cowell, helped so to clear up and explain our own position. As many of our readers are aware, some six to seven years ago, we were apparently at death's door. After a “horror of great darkness,' which in the earlier part of our illness we passed through, we were so brought down as fully to believe we had but a few minutes to live. At the same time we were as calm as we are at this moment whilst recording the fact; nor had we an anxious thought about wife or children, so thoroughly satisfied were we that the Lord would take charge of and provide for them. We had naught to leave them but a covenant-keeping God; and what could they need beside ? Since that time, however, dear reader, and when restored to our usual degree of health, we have been brought so low as actually to doubt even the power of God (not to say His willingness) to raise us from the state of darkness and depression in which we were. All former darkness
and depression seemed as nothing compared with this dreadful gloom; and from our heart we wished we had never been born.
It is not very pleasant to note down these facts—for facts they are—but, if it should please God that they should meet the case of any poor sin-burdened, Satan-buffeted soul, the Lord's blessed name shall have all the praise, and we shall be abundantly recompensed for all that we have passed through; and no language of ours can describe what that was. We will add, however, that we would now on no account have escaped that state of things, agonizing as it was whilst called to experience it. We have only one favour to ask our dear Lord and Master, which is that He may be pleased, if it be His blessed will, to spare us the like exercises in the future. But the thoughtful and observant reader will quite understand how acceptable, under the circumstances, is the testimony of such a deeplytried and long-experienced brother as dear GEORGE Cowell. Nor less acceptable was the remark of his beloved brother JOSIAH, some time since, when, with respect to the article of death, he said (or words to the same effect), “We must leave death till a dying hour.” He did not for a moment mean by this a reckless indifference or a carnal putting off the thoughts of death until it came; but, in a Gospel sense, and as a quickened son or daughter of Zion, leaving the morrow with Him who has graciously pledged Himself that, thy days so shall thy strength be," and who hath likewise as graciously said, " Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Before passing on, we would remark, lest what we have said should prove discouraging to any poor troubled reader, that it is by no means necessary that all should go down into those dismal depths at which we have just hinted. There is a special training through which it is needful the Lord's ministering servants should pass, in order that they may be able to open up the pathway by which others are led, and, under God, to give the cheering and comforting word to such of Zion's pilgrims as at least occasionally feel as if they had lost their way, and were left to stumble upon the dark mountains of error, or had turned aside into some byepath, on account of which God had forsaken them. In relation to these depths, and the special manner in which some of the Lord's people are exercised, we remember a question once put to us by a nautical man. He had been reading a certain article, expressive of soul conflict; and, fearing that he personally did not come up to the standard of the real child of God's experience, speaking in sea-terms, he said, “Do you think all are born in a gale of wind ?”. “By no means," was the answer. The 16th of the Acts settles that question. The Lord “opened the heart” of Lydia; the process was very gentle ; but it required an earthquake, that shook the prison to its foundation, to bring the gaoler to his right mind.
By the same post that brought the paper from the beloved “Wayside Note" writer, from which we just now quoted, came a letter from another dear servant of God, a minister of the truth as it is in Jesus. Speaking of an aged disciple whom he had recently seen at Manchester, he says, “ When quite a girl she had been troubled about the sin against the Holy Ghost, and talked with the late Mr. NUNN on the subject. Her fears were removed; but, about eighteen months ago, they were renewed on reading a short article which appeared in the GOSPEL MAGAZINE about that time. I called to see her when last in Manchester; she is much tempted, and in a very low, dark state. She fears that her former joy proceeded from head-knowledge only, and that God's grace had never been really experienced. She fears she is lost; but would give worlds (she says) to know that she was interested in Christ. Her husband is an infidel. She is now advanced in years; I think she said she was past seventy. I think I was privileged to convey to her a morsel of comfort. She was very pleased to see me, as also my brother, who called upon her a few weeks previously; though, as a rule, she shuns her former Christian friends, and says she cannot even attend a place of worship. She reads the GOSPEL MAGAZINE, and said, 'How I should like to see Mr. Doudney. Now (continues the writer), is this a case in which there was head-knowledge without heart experience ? or is God now teaching her that His is the power and His the glory? I firmly believe she will be brought, in God's own time, to say, 'My Beloved is mine, and I am His.'
Here you see, dear reader, is another of the cases which are so frequently brought before the Lord's servants, and in connexion with which the fact of having traversed the same path, in personal experience, oftentimes, under the blessed Spirit's power, leads to “ in season” being spoken.
Now, the case just named brings vividly to our recollection, at the moment of writing, another case, but one we believe to have been of a totally different kind. Some five-and-twenty years ago, when visiting Dover, our ever-to-be-revered friend, the late Captain KNOCKER, was most anxious we should accompany him to see a certain aged woman, who among many stood high in their esteem for her deep spirituality and high Christian character. As he said afterwards, he purposely abstained from making any remark upon the case,
in order that we might form a purely unbiassed opinion of it. We were scarcely seated before the old lady began in what we afterwards found was her usual strain of what she had seen and felt in spiritual matters. In this strain she continued for some time, she having all the talk to herself, and not allowing an opportunity for the veriest remark upon the part of another. Her large-print Bible lay hard by, and, from its clean appearance, had been but little read. Taking up the book, as we opened it, there lay within its leaves a little tract, with this significant heading, “SOMETHING WANTING.” The old woman at length having run through her doubtless oft-told tale, we ventured to ask if she knew anything about the 7th chapter of St.