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steadfast for the truth, and one who seems kept most peculiarly alive to a sight and sense of the aboundings of error in the day in which we live. We know of no man, since the days of William IIUNTINGTON, who has more warned England of the rapid increase of Popery than JOSEPH IRONS; and we pray God that while he is pleased to keep him faithful in sounding the alarm to Britain's guilty isle, he may have his own soul so nourished, nurtured, and fed, that he may be enabled to bring forth continually of the living manna for the sustenance of the Lord's tried and exercised family.
Mr. Irons has now laboured at Grove Chapel, Camberwell, during a period of twenty years, seventeen years of which he has delivered his Wednesday evening lecture at Jewin Crescent, Aldersgate Street. He has ever taken a most active part in reference to that admirable Society, instituted for the especial benefit of the “ Aged Pilgrims.” On the evening of Friday last (Christmas-day), he preached a sermon in their behalf, at the Rev. Alexander Fletcher's Chapel, Moorfields.
THE EDITOR'S REMARKS TO “ A SEEKER AFTER THE TRUTH” AND “F. S.” Both “ Seeker after the Truth” and “F. S.” must be aware of the ground upon which we came forward to conduct the Gospel MAGAZINE:While our primary object was the comfort and establishment of the tried members of the Lord's family, our determination, in accordance with that object, was to make the rejection of all papers of a controversial character an established rule. We hate scurrility; we abominate the practice which too much characterised the former series of the Gospel MAGAZINE; for, in our opinion, even under the management of the venerable Walter Rowe, much that was objectionable found its way into the pages of the Magazine: we mean, that there were low, personal, angry allusions, which, so far from establishing the readers and brethren “in the unity of the Spirit,” severed their hearts from each other. So that, instead of " strengthening each other's hands,” and, through the medium of their own Magazine, congregating together as a little band which, under God, might be instrumental in “ building up” some of the members of his living family in their “most holy faith," to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan-to the exhibition of the standard of Truth, in opposition to every banner which a false system of religion might raise ; they exhausted their talents upon points of but secondary moment, while the more weighty and important topics were lost sight of: the enemy, therefore, instead of being foiled, and his position weakened, gained ground.
We appeal to our readers for a confirmation of the truth of this. Does there not still exist a jealous, party-spirited feeling between men whom we believe to be men of truth and vital godliness, who formerly fell out in the pages of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE, and whose differences, we fear, will never be harmonised until they meet in that happy abode where no opposition can ever enter.
We are quite aware that starting upon this principle, in a day when error, infidelity, and a multitude of systems, onder the garb of religion, abound, renders us the subject of suspicion and doubt ; for a spiritual mariner to undertake the steering of his bark amid such shoals of opposition, and yet not sail in company or in union with them, is strange indeed, and brings every thinking, prudent man to a pause. If he has not rceeived the witness within if a word by the other's writings has not come with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with. power,” he resolves to be not hasty in his conclusions, but to keep a jealous, watchful eye upon him, and see whether the Lord will speak by him or not. If
he does-be he a minister or an editor-that man becomes ten times the more dear to him who has held him in doubt; he has received the sealing witness of God the Holy Ghost upon his conscience; and neither earth nor hell-men or devils, can make such an one believe the man is not called of God to the work, or root him out of his affections. A knot of love is tied, which had its origin in God himself-which death cannot sever. It shall last as long as eternity itself sball endure. Would that there were a little more of this jealousy, timidity, and caution ; would that there were a little less receiving every man at a word, as it were—if that word is not distinguished by the demonstrative power of God the Holy Ghost; then, indeed, would ministers and people be more deeply knit together in love, and then should we have less bickering, animosity, and strife, in our Churches. Those who at first so warmly receive, and cordially espouse, are not unfrequently the first to cavil and forsake.
Our readers will perceive, that what we are censuring is, the spirit of jealousy and opposition which is apt to creep in between the members of the Lord's family: a lawful resistance of barefaced error, whether it come covered with the garb of a free-will sanctity, or a papistical heresy, is quite another thing. God helping us, we hope ever to be enabled to screen our pages from their defiling influence. We know there is no more religion in our poor fallen flesh than there is in Satan; and, as to a long rigmarole system of popish works and doings, prayers and pe. nances, we believe they were hatched in the bottomless pit, to make damnation, rather than salvation, secure to those who lived and died in the observance of them; and we do most candidly acknowledge, that our souls would rather choose “strangling and death," than be subjected to such a soul-destructive sys. tem as that which the Pope of Rome, his priests, and their ten thousand times ten thousand poor deluded followers, vindicate. The ground of our hope and confidence is the free, discriminating, covenant love of God in and through Christ Jesus, irrespective of any worth or worthiness in or by us : this is our creed; for this we contend, both for ourselves and for the whole elect Church, chosen in Christ Jesus before time began ; yea, and we trust, by the grace and strength of our God enabling, shall contend even unto death, should Popery once more be permitted so far to domineer over the bodies, as well as attempt to prevail over The minds, of men.
It being the opening of a new year, and the commencement of a fresh series of the Magazine, we have dwelt rather more at length than we had intended by way of replying to our correspondents, that they may know what to expect in and from our work; and what description of articles will be admitted to its pages. If God shall be pleased to own our poor services, and bless the work to the souls of any of his family, his name shall have the glory : if, on the contrary, it proves to be “barren and unfruitful"—the soul is not fed—and the general desire of our readers seems to be for a work of a more argumentative, controversial description, such as the papers now before us are adapted for-We are quite ready to resign a post which entails upon us a great weight of responsibility, anxiety, and care, and return into that retirement from which we emerged.
THE ELEVENTH HOUR. “ He quickeneth whom he will." .“ It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
“ Not of works, lest any man should boast." Among the members of a family with whom I was familiar (says the writer) was a son of very dissolute, profligate habits. Indeed, such was his conduct, that having been placed in a way of trade by his father, in which, notwithstanding the most flattering prospects, he failed and repeatedly occasioning his parent to lose large sums of money, he was compelled at length entirely to abandon him. For a space of upwards of twenty years were they at variance, during which the son followed a dissolute, drunken course, while the parent suffered the most heart-rending feelings on his account. It is needless tbat we should particularize here, suffice it to say, that such was the extent to which, in fits of intoxication, he would go, that often would he molest the house where his father resided, to the terror of the whole family ; and upon one occasion, did he go so far, as to furnish himself with a pistol with which he said he was come to shoot his father! That painful hour will perhaps never be forgotten, nor would it now be recorded, but for the hope that it may comfort some poor disconsolate parent whose child, it may be, appears to be going the broad road to destruction, and trembles from day to day lest tidings should be communicated that his son has rendered himself amenable to the laws of his country-been cut off in the midst of his mad career-or perished by his own hand. Upon the occasion referred to, the parent was sitting at the tea-table with his family, together with a Christian friend, holding sweet conversation. Suddenly a loud knocking was heard at the door, and with terror in every countenance lest some grievous harm should ensue, each exclaimed, “ It is W.!” In another moment, the family was dispersed—and confusion and dismay took the place of order and discipline. While some members of the family sought to secrete the father in a remote part of the house, others endeavoured to bombard the door, to prevent the ingress of their apparently lost brother. Long was the struggle, and great indeed was the terror when it was announced that in his hand he held a pistol ! At length he succeeded in entering the house, and after repeated inquiries for his father, and endeavours to free himself from the grasp of his brothers and sisters, who were much younger than he, an elder sister rushed from an inner room, and, throwing open her arms before him, with a feeling of excitement amounting almost to phrenzy, she exclaimed, “ Here I am, W.-shoot me you shall not kill your father!” An unseen hand prevented the ill-consequences of that unhappy moment. Defeated in his object, he retreated to the house of a relative in the neighbourhood, where he supposed his father might have gone. Disappointed again, and mortified by the upbraidings of the relation alluded to, he pointed the pistol at his own head, exclaiming, “ Good bye, Aunt!” Never will the writer (who was then a child of seven or eight years of age) forget the suspense of that moment. He stood transfixed in agony in a room communicating with the passage where the unhappy man stood, expecting every moment to hear him fall a lifeless body. But from this rash act he was likewise kept—to God be the glory!
The writer hastens from a part of his history too painful to dwell upon. Year after year rolled away. Still was * W.” preserved, though a miserable and unhappy man. None respected or cared for him save the few dissolute companions with whom he associated. His conduct was well known, and most of the inhabitants of the extensive neighbourhood wherein he dwelt, looked upon him as the thoughtless, dissipated son who was daily bringing down the grey hairs of an aged father with sorrow to the grave. He was the offspring of a former wife, who had long since been laid in the tomb, happily never to be privy to the dissolute habits of one to whom she had given birth. “W.'s" wife was the daugher of respectable parents. Respecting her religious principles at the time of their marriage, the writer cannot give an opinion, that union having been formed in his infancy; but change of circumstances, extreme privation, and a succession of painful anxiety and trouble through the misconduct of her husband, were made instrumental, in the hands of God, of bringing her to seek him; and she died about five years since, leaving a satisfactory testimony of the genuine work of grace upon her soul. Her death took place about two years after that of“ W.'s" father.
The writer might have mentioned that such was “ W.'s” conduct-so degraded his habits, and so repulsive his general deportment, that interviews on the part of his family were avoided. His drunken reveries and boisterous behaviour had made them dread his presence. When by accident they met in sober moments, and remonstrated with him upon the impropriety of his conduct, he would say, in answer to their inquiries as to his views of its ultimate issue, if a change of heart and life were not by divine grace effected, “I know that hell will be my portion.” One such interview occurs to the mind at this moment. “W.” had come to the house of a brother, on purpose to molest and annoy him, when the writer was sent for to intercept him, and if possible to prevent disastrous consequences. “W.” was not intoxicated on this occasion, and having succeeded in getting him out of the house, they strolled away together, and for a considerable time opened up each others' feelings with candour and simplicity. They wept together and parted with reluctance. That night will never be erased from memory. The result of that painful yet pleasing conversation was to awaken in one breast the deepest sympathy for his apparently-lost friend; and so earnest were the seasons of wrestling at a throne of grace with which he was at remote intervals favoured, and so sweet the humbling sensations with which he was occasionally privileged, when interceeding on behalf of the object of his solicitude, that he never could give up his hope respecting him. That hope was dear to his heart. Speaking of it once to his aged parent, who one morning calling him into his bed-room, said, that he had passed an almost sleepless night on his account, he said, “ I cannot give him up.” “What !” replied the dear old man, " can you still entertain a hope respecting him when you see the company with which he associates, and listen to his language ?” “ This is discouraging, I know," was the reply ; " but while I see that he admits the necessity of a change of heart—acknowledges his present hopeless condition-and know that he has never yet taken his seat in the scorner's chair, I cannot give him up.” As a proof of the latter, the writer mentioned an incident which had come to his knowledge. In crossing a river of considerable width, with several others, the subject of religion was introduced, which one more forward than the rest began to censure and revile. “ W.'s” conscience being smitten, by the contrast between the opinion just broached, and those which had been instilled in him in earlier years, he sprang up in the boat, and, addressing the blasphemous speaker, said, “ If you maintain your point, either you shall go overboard, or I will.—I believe," he continued, “ that there is a God-do you believe it?” The former perhaps more frightened by the singularity and suddenness of his attack, than convinced, admitted that he did ; “ I believe there is a Devil, “ continued the other—"do you believe it?” The man answered in the affirmative." I believe," added “W.” « that there is a heaven and a hell-do you believe it?”“I do," said the other. Parents, if you live to discover no other fruits of your endeavours to “train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” surely this is encouragement. Here was a thorough conviction of the truth amidst all the sin and misery of which “W.” was the subject. And doubtless had he been closely questioned upon the point, he would have acknowledged with painful regret, the discordance between his belief and his practice. And the writer contemplating the infidelity, blasphemy, and philosophic error with which the present day abounds, cannot but believe that the condition of a poor unhappy creature such as he is describing, is by far more enviable than one who either holds the doctrines of grace in unrighteousness, or sets creature-sense and reason in the place of that credence which acknowledges “ Great is the mystery of godliness." With all his multiplied and aggravated transgressions, poor “ W." never stood in the condition of either, as the writer hopes presently to show. He was open to conviction ; he was aware of the awful condition in which he stood ; and so convinced was he of the reality of a future state, that when in his last illness, a friend asked him if amid all his sin and misery, he was never tempted to destroy himself, he relied, “ The certainty that I should drop into hell, always prevented me." Tremble, ye that attempt to believe that there is no future state of punishment, for these were the words of a dying man.
(To be concluded in our next.)
The Third Annual Report of the Guildford Protestant Association.
1840. At the very commencement of this Report we are furnished with the following :
There are some who abuse this place by trying to prove that heretics are not to be punished or put to death, which they who do, seem to me to be anxious about themselves. First, indeed, it does not refer only to heretics, but to men who are children of the devil, as opposed to the children of the kingdom, among whom heretics are the chief species, but not the only kind. Therefore those who deny that heretics are to be put to death, ought much rather to deny that thieves, much rather that murderers, ought to be put to death; for heretics are so much the more pernicious than thieves and murderers, as it is a greater crime to steal and slay the souls of men than their bodies.”—Commentary on Matt. xiii. 16, by Maldonatus, a standard of Maynooth College.
Can a plainer proof of the spirit of Popery be necessary? Its rapid increase in our land proves too clearly that there is too much propriety in the remarks by the writer of a handbill published by the above Society. “Fellow Protestants," says the writer, after commenting upon the awful perjury of the Popish bishops of Ireland, " if these facts do not open your eyes to Popery, then all that can be said is, it is to be feared that God has given the nation up to the infatuation of a deep judicial blindness, from which they shall only be awakened by the visitation of judgments that they have despised and disregarded." That this is the case we doubt not. We cannot but speak well of such Societies as the present, formed as they are for the express purpose of exposing the evil and destructive tendency of POPERY. The very word grates upon our ear; and, when we contemplate its villanous artifices countenanced by the “ Confessional ” system alluded to in the following quotation from another handbill, which accompanies the above Report, being an extract published in 1838, by L. J. Nolan, formerly a Romish priest, but now a clergyman of the Church of England ; it fires our whole soul with indignation, and causes us to exclaim, “Lord, hasten the happy day when the mask that screens the satanic countenance of the Babylonish whore shall be torn off, and she appear in her true garb.” The writer alluded to, after speaking of the agony which often possessed his mind while performing his duties as father confessor, says
But the most awful of all considerations is this, that through the Confessional I had been frequently apprised of intended assassinations and most diabolical conspiracies, and still, from the ungodly injunctions of secresy in the Romish creed, lest, as Peter Dens says, “ the Confessional should become odious," I dared not give the slightest intimation to the marked out victims of slaughter. But though my heart now trembles at my recollection of the murderous acts, still duty obliges me to proceed and enumerate one instance of the cases alluded to.
The case is that of a person who was barbarously murdered, and with whose intended assassination I became acquainted at confession. One of the five conspirators (all of whom were sworn to commit the horrid deed), broached to me the bloody conspiracy in the Confessional. I implored him to desist from his intention of becoming an accomplice to so diabolical a design ; but, alas ! all advice was useless, no dissuasion could prevail, his determination was fixed-and his only reason for having disclosed the awful machination to his confessor, seemed to have originated from a hope that his wicked design would be hallowed by his previous acknowledgment of it to his priest.