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palms of his hands; and, if he will allow us to set forth his love by the comparison, he is continually looking upon those hands; he is ever perusing that blessed catalogue of names, to see whom next to call home—who next stands upon the top of the list-for whom next he shall unlock the door of death, through which to pass into the bliss of life! Oh, beloved ! the subject is so vast, so profound, so glorious, that we know not how to dwell upon it; language fails us ; our souls seem too large for utterance. We can do but little more than long for it.
Come, ye timid, fearful ones; the Lord enable you to take courage. Fear not; he is with you: you that are perhaps dreading a long, protracted affliction, and are afraid that therein you may be left to dishonour your Lord and Master by a restless, impatient spirit. The course he intends for you may be very different to that which you have marked out for yourself. You may be called suddenly-in a moment ! How desirable, then, that you should stand ready with your lamps trimmed, and oil in your lamps, as those that wait for their Lord's appearing. To some, he may come in the first watch ; to others, in the second and third. Some he may call gently home, and gradually take down the clay tabernacle ; others he may call instantaneously. This he has done in several cases lately. Since our last publication, two ministers —men of the Spirit-have been taken suddenly to their rest. One we saw : he dropped on the opposite side of the street at the moment we were passing. Little did we think, at the time we were gazing upon his prostrate body, that his soul had entered into rest. What a mercy! One moment in the wilderness, the next in the Paradise above! Does it not gladden thine heart, dear reader ? Come, come, poor soul! the Lord help thee to take courage. All is well !
“ Did Jesus once upon thee shine?
Then Jesus is for ever thine.”
Though thou mayst now walk in darkness, and have no light, he will see thee again; thy heart again shall be made glad with a joy that no man shall be able to take from thee. Still wait upon him, wrestle with him, cry and sigh unto him. Never give it up. Blessed be God, thou canst not, nor will he ever give thee up. Oh, no, no! What ! a mansion in glory be vacant ?-a jewel in the crown missing ?-one of the living stones in the spiritual temple be absent, and thus a gap be left in the building ? Oh, no, no! Ours is a wise Master-builder, and he will surely finish all to the praise and the glory of his own grace ; bringing off the top-stone of the temple, with shoutings of, “ Grace, grace unto it." Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth !
PILATE-SOUGHT TO RELEASE HIM.
John, xix. 12. “KNOWEST thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and power to release thee ?” said Pilate to one who was brought before him as a lamb to the slaughter ; but as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth. In contemplating this most important, most interesting, and most wonderful part of Scripture, two points at present shall occupy our consideration. The two texts above quoted, taken in combination with the result, most strikingly prove the impotence of man, and the sovereignty of a God whose purposes cannot be frustrated. First, then, we would draw the attention to the sovereignty of that Almighty Being (whose immutable decrees self-acting man attempts to deny) as exemplified in the words and conduct of Pilate, on that great and remarkable day when Jesus, the Lord of life and glory, stood arraigned as a guilty criminal before an earthly tribunal—mocked, derided, and accused of blasphemy, by those who outwardly worshipped the true God; who were expecting “the consolation of Israel,” and who were at this moment unconsciously fulfilling their Scriptures, and unintentionally promoting that which alone could reconcile the God they were rejecting to their guilty souls—ignominiously treated by an infuriated rabble, a demon-like multitude, who shouted, “ Crucify him !” they knew not why. Pilate asserts in the words addressed to “that just man ” in whom he could find no fault, that he had power to condemn or to acquit him ; and a subsequent verse records, that “from henceforth Pilate sought to release him.” Yet, notwithstanding the human authority and power of which Pilate vaunts, he acts in opposition to his own will and desires ; influenced by human equity, he is constrained to assert he could find no fault in him, nothing worthy of death. His wife, from a vision of the night, charged him to have nothing to do with that just man ; yet, with the power in his hands, he delivers up to death one whom he proclaims innocent, whom he was willing to release, washing his hands of the offence, acquitting himself of the guilt, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of that just man.” We are not now contemplating the fact, “that Jesus must die that all perish not,” but the conduct of an individual in this transaction, the most important that ever took place on our earth. Judas betrayed him whom he called “Master,” willingly and deliberately-influenced by the master he served, whose he was from the beginning; and he, after he had done that unto which he was appointed, confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood. Israel, headed by the chief priests and Pharisees, persecuted Jesus unto death ; impelled by the insatiable malice of unbelief, blinded prejudice, and fancied zeal for the God of their fathers. They acted in accordance with their perverted wills, to which they were given up, and the desires of their hardened hearts ; but Pilate acted in direct opposition to his professed power, his sense of justice, his persuasion of innocence, and his most earnest desire, which again and again prompted him to save Jesus from death. But, no, Jesus must die ; Pilate's efforts are ineffectual, he delivers up Jesus to suffer death upon the cross, evincing by the act the sovereignty of God. “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts, iv. 27, 28); all proving the truth of our blessed Lord's words to Pilate, “Thou couldst have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above.” Man is left for a time to the devices of his own wicked heart; but neither can his malice nor Satanic rage go beyond what the Judge of all the earth permits, nor can man's efforts of lenity prevail if opposed to the sovereign decree. Secondly, let us meditate on the transaction abstractedly. It is neither desirable nor profitable to excite the natural feelings, to harrow up the mind into a momentary distress and agony, by a vivid and glowing description in high-sounding language, which pleases the ear and furnishes the imagination, but passes off like the morning dew, leaving the heart barren and unfruitful in the love of the Lord. We would draw the believer to contemplate this sovereign decree of the Most High, with adoring love and unceasing praise to the God of all grace, who hath redeemed us with his own blood. We now, by faith, “behold the man,” Christ Jesus, risen from the grave, and alive for evermore ; the sufferings of the cross ended, a glorious work finishedJesus has seen the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. The believer, looking within the veil, sees Jesus the forerunner for ever entered in ; and in the anticipation of the resurrection from the dead, the sting of death is taken away, when the soul is enabled, through this same sovereign power, to cast its burden of sin on this same Jesus who was crucified; whom Pilate could not save from death ; whom neither stone, nor seal, nor guard, could confine to the grave ; whom death could not retain ; whose sinless body could not see corruption. To the soul made sensible of sin, and unable to lift the eye towards a holy God, what can be more important than the transaction we are contemplating? How truly important to know that our sins have been blotted out by the blood of Jesus ; and how blessed to reflect that it is the sinner, and not the self-justifier, that Jesus invites to Calvary : and the sinner for whom Jesus died shall be brought to the foot of the cross. How interesting to the living is the death of Jesus, and every subject connected with this great event, from whence such blessings flow. And oh ! how wonderful for the reconciled sinner to have a way of access to infinite holiness and purity ; a fallen nature to be renewed, and to be made partaker of the divine-no longer standing before God a trembling sinner, in slavish fear, but enabled through grace to seek the face of a reconciled Father ; reconciled by the life, the death, the resurrection of the man, Christ Jesus, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead, and to whom be praise for ever and ever. The sovereignty of God under a more interesting point of view, will be submitted to the contemplation of the brethren in another paper, the Lord permitting. May the Holy Spirit bless all our contemplations, and enable us to realize, for our comfort, pardon and peace through the blood of the Lamb, ascribing all power and glory to the undivided Three. April, 1841.
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass
in his field. Zech. x. 1. Surely, “ as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him ;” and in his love and in his pity, he not only redeems, bears, and carries them as the tender mother carrieth her helpless babe, but he also teacheth them to speak; and by his word and Spirit, he shows them how to hold converse with himself, in all the confidence of faith and familiarity of love ; he condescends to notice all their wants, and instructs them how to embody their wishes, groans, and desires in words wherewith to come boldly to his throne of grace, that so help may be obtained in every time of need. Elsewhere he teacheth his backsliding little ones to take with them words and turn to the Lord, and say, " Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously ; so will we render the calves of our lips ” (Hosea, xiv. 2). But in the words before us, he graciously beholds his people grappling with a season of dearth and drought, and, in his tender love and pity, looks down from his holy habitation, and gives them such gentle advice, which, if followed, cannot fail of ameliorating their condition, and producing that happy change which every faminestricken soul must pant to enjoy. From these words we will endeavour to notice the season, the gracious condescension of God, and his faithful promise. · First. The season, most evidently, is one of drought in the time of the latter rain, when vegetation appears to be languishing, because the needful shower is withheld, and the refreshing dew distils not on the tender plants of the earth ; so that the much-anticipated harvest appears likely to be blasted, and the hopes of the anxious husbandman to be exchanged for chagrin and disappointment. When this is the case in things spiritual, the soul is brought to a dead and helpless stand, so that she can neither go backward nor forward; but, having done all, she stands -yea, it being the day of adversity, the poor soul stands and considers ; and considering she says, “I remember the days of old. I meditate on all thy works. I musé on the works of thy hands. I stretch forth my bands unto thee, my soul thirsteth after thee as a thirsty land." And one thing in particular now remembered and considered, is the time of the former rain, which the word latter doth imply. The poor disconsólate sinner looks back to the time when, under the bondage of the law, the fallow ground was broken up, and the storms rooted out; the clods beaten in pieces, and the seed of truth cast in by the hand of some skilful seedsman, whose labours were blessed with the former rain from heaven, which caused the grain to take root downward, and after some anxious watching to spring forth upward ; so that hopes budded forth with joyful expectation of an abundant crop. Then the sinner began to sing, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For he that is mighty hath done great things: and holy . is his name.” And as the soul was chanting, with spiritual and heart
felt melody, some of the rapturous strains of the “ new song," a sweet voice was heard from him who had visited the soul with his sweet salutation, saying, “Rise up, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away : for, lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land ; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with tender grapes give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then thy heart—thy joyful heart, involuntarily replied, “ It is true, my beloved, for the dayspring hath visited me, and the light of truth, which was sown to the spirit for the righteous, is sprung up; and joy (the fruit of my sighs and groans) doth now comfort the heart of the upright, and give me even me, the wings of love, so that I feel that thou dost not tantalize my hopes, nor mock my wishes in saying, 'Rise up, my love;' for I can now mount as on the wings of eagles, and, ere I am aware, my soul hath made me like the chariots of Amminadib! And with thee, my dearest Lord, I mount, I fly in thy chariot paved with love ; and thou causest me to ride upon the high places of the earth-yea, I sit with thee in heavenly places, for thou hast brought me to Zion, within the bond of the covenant; and thou hast shown my ravished heart, that in this mountain, thou hast made to thine, of all people, tongues, and languages, a feast of fat things-a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow-of wines on the lees, well refined. Yea, thou showest me the heritage of Jacob, and thy table spread with ‘Butter of kine, milk of sheep, fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats with the fat (or finest wheat flour) of the kidnies (or kernels) of wheat,' and "the cup of salvation' filled with the purest blood of the grape—even that grape which was pressed with the intolerable load of my sin in the garden of Gethsemane : and now thou invitest even me to partake of the same soul-reviving feast, by saying, ' Eat, О friend; drink abundantly, O beloved.' But my soul questions, may I eat? May I sit down? Have I got on the wedding garment ? Hast thou spread thy skirt over me? And am I comely with thy comeliness? And when thy Father, the King, comes in to see the guests, will he not inquire, Friend, how camest thou in hither ?' In time past I have shuddered at the idea of sitting down without the wedding garment of thy imputed righteousness; but since thou hast anointed mine eyes with thy eyesalve, I can behold that I am complete in thee, and without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and thou sayest, that by one offering thou hast perfected for ever them that are sanctified, and, by faith in thy blood, justified them from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Yes, and since thou hast brought me to this mountain, and this innumerable company of angels with which I am surrounded, and hast destroyed the covering from mine eyes, and the veil from my face, I can easily see that I am washed, that I am sanctified, that I am justified in thy name, and by the Spirit of my God: and this new sight hath pro