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(Concluded from page 248.) 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. Thus we have endeavoured to notice the condescension of the Lord in teaching his children the simplicity of the method by which to obtain a soul-satisfying change in their experience; and as we wish to be as brief as we can, we now proceed to notice our next consideration.
Third.—The promise of the Lord as it concerns its fulfilment and realization, is of great importance, and may the Lord display its hidden beauties to our view. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are enabled to embody our wishes in words of address to the throne of grace: but we may not utter those words with our lips, but in our hearts, like Hannah we cry for rain with earnestness, and this cry is heard and answered, and this command goes forth “ Drop down, ye heavens, and let the skies pour down righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together : I the Lord have created it.” Now the change takes place, and the bright clouds are seen arising in the west; and they increase. The gentle zephyrs of celestial wind do waft them along toward the east; and a few precious drops now descend as an earnest of the copious shower. But to make this part of our subject more clear and edifying, we will notice the following particulars :
First.— The Lord hath expressly said that he will make “bright clouds," which, one would think, would by no means answer the purpose, as we seldom see clouds that are wholly bright distilling water on the earth ; and we know that (to speak in the language of Scripture) there are clouds without water, and these often look bright to the eye of those who gaze upon them. False teachers are called clouds without water, and these often shine most brilliantly, and appear bright, either from learning, talents, or legal and fleshly sanctity; and because these clouds are fair and likewise many, the simple, even among the heirs of promise, are led to admire them, not knowing that these are the vehicles of him who now sitteth in the seat of God, giving out that he is God; and saith in his heart, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds : I will be like the Most High.” The shining brightness of these transformed clouds is so bewitching that many of true Israel are zealously affected thereby; and they know not that the Tyrian prince who thinks himself wiser than Daniel, is pushing on his chariot to ascend the glorious holy mountain on the sides of the north, that he, like the true Omega and second Adam, may walk in Eden the garden of God, and up and down in the midst of the stones of fire ; having, and endeavouring to obtain, every precious stone for his covering. Yes, poor things, through their own legal blindness and prevailing sophistry, they know
not that the brightness they behold is only the emanations of the anointed cherub that covereth, whom God in his providence hath set over the visible church as the sun of the ecclesiastical heavens : whose heart is lifted up because of his beauty, and whose wisdom or policy is corrupted by reason of his brightness. Ah! no, they know it not, and how few there are that do! By brightness, by light, by purity, by universal charity, and by flaming zeal are they deceived in the clouds, which are only a curse to the church, because they distil a blight, and drop down a mildew upon the Lord's husbandry, rather than fructifying rain. Hence, my dear fellow hidden ones, we must not look at such bright clouds as these, for such are not promised in the text on which we endeavour to meditate. And we also know, that real sent ministers of our God, when stationed over a people, are as bright clouds of the latter rain, but such cases are extremely rare at the present, and will be more so still, as the end draws nigh; hence we, for individual and private refreshing, must look for other bright clouds, and these are those peculiar dispensations of providence and grace which in passing by are made to work for good. Seasons of trial and trouble have often shown themselves to be bright clouds, leaving behind them real spiritual blessings. And when our little trials come in answer to prayer they are always made bright; but when they come as a correction of our disobedience to the will of an indulgent Parent, they are dark, because he hides his face, and frowns on us because of our sins whereby we have dishonoured him. But perhaps my reader is ready to inquire, “What makes our troubles bright ?"
Second.-In answer, I notice the following particular-namely, that bright clouds are arguments, not only of a risen, but also of a shining, sun; which, though he may not shine on us, yet shines on the clouds, as their bright silver edges do testify. Thus our troubles are as bright clouds, when the eye of our discernment can behold that the Sun of Righteousness doth shine upon them—when we know that they are sent in love, that they come for our profit—that afterward we may not only be the growing partakers of divine holiness, but also of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. And, perhaps, my perusing brother or sister is even now exercised with peculiar trials, and is enabled to behold them as bright clouds sent in answer to the prayer; “ Correct me, O Lord, but with judgment (that is, tender discretion); not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing." Well is not this heavenly weather? Is it not sweet to know that the sun that shines is a sure pledge of everlasting day, and that when he shall attain his noontide splendour, all clouds of trouble will have passed away, and he become stationary the whole day of eternity ? Is it not sweet to know that, while the Father is disciplining us for our profit, he smiles with tender love? Surely it is sweet to be able to say with Paul, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation”—that this trouble shall work together for my good—that this gentle purgation shall make me more fruitful. It was this sweetness that made the apostle to “rejoice in tribulation"- to glory in his infirmities, and that because he knew that when these bright
clouds passed over him, the power of Christ—that is, the rain of eternal wisdom, did rest upon him in refreshing drops. And now hear what more he says of these bright clouds, “ Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” And this is the end of all clouds that go over the heads of the Lord's people, to wean them from themselves that they should not lean upon an arm of flesh. Ropley, May 20, 1841.
JAZER. (To be continued.)
THE ANTINOMIAN. CAUSES will always produce their legitimate effects, and the practice will always be regulated by the prevailing dispositions of the mind. This is as natural as for the sun to send forth light, or a good fountain to send forth pure streams; “ make the tree good, and the fruit will be good.” “That which is born of God cannot sin ;" sin arises from the depravity of the heart which still exists in every believer, which causes a constant warfare, and which is a daily burden to the soul. This sin sometimes breaks out and overcomes the child of God; still he is not enslaved by it, neither does he love it. Sin once abounded in the believer, but now grace superabounds; he has the mind of Christ; he bears the image of Christ, to which he was predestinated, and he pants after perfect holiness, and hates all sin.
Brother B. was emphatically a minister of Christ—he gloried in nothing but the cross. Deep humility was manifested in all his deportment; his conduct was unsullied, and he died triumphing in Jesus. Brother B. had in his congregation one man who was a steady attendant ; he was poor in this world, but rich in faith; he was meanly clad, but he had on the robe of Christ's righteousness, and was clothed with the garments of salvation. His habitation was poor, but there the Triune God deigned to dwell, and in it was daily offered the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and praise. Many a weary step did this man take to hear of Christ, for he lived a good distance from the house of God. His countenance often indicated the workings of his mind; sometimes the tear would start into his eye when the name of Jesus was poured forth, and his face would beam with pleasure when the doctrines of the cross were the theme of the minister's discourse. This man was taken away by death in a sudden manner. Some time after, Brother B, met with this man's master, who was a farmer, and a staunch follower of John Wesley. He inquired of him what he thought of his labourer who lately died. To which the master answered, " Think of him! he was as great an old Antinomian as ever I met with.” “Indeed! What," said Brother B.,“ leads you to think so ?” “I can prove it from his own sayings; he used to say that all God's people were chosen to salvation from eternity—that they, and they alone, would be saved--that God saw no sin in his people, as all their sins were laid on Christ, that we were saved by Christ alone, and that all our doings were nothing in God's esteem--that the saints could never fall from grace, and that they were as safe as those in glory.” To which Brother B. answered, “I do not ask you what was his creed; but as he was your labourer for many years, tell me the truth as to his conduct--was he a praying man?" "I believe he was ; indeed, I am sure of it. He used to rise in the morning in time to read and pray with his family before he came to work; I have listened at his door, and heard him pray delightfully.” “How
did he behave towards his family ?". " He appeared always a kind husband and father.” “ Did you find him honest ?" * As to honesty, I never found his equal ; I do not believe he would take the value of a straw from me.” “Noble !” said Brother B.; “ what a good thing it would be if all the masters and servants in the nation were such Antinomians. And now," rejoined Brother B., “ you have been a follower of John Wesley for many years; you know many who condemn the doctrines your poor labourer believed, and who are continually preaching up good works—are they such generally as you can confide in ?” “I must say,” answered the farmer, “ they are not; I must keep a strict watch over them, as they often take adyantage of my absence and ignorance.”
CRUMBS FROM ELMLEY, OF JUNE 27, 1841. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.-Hosea, xiii. 5. We opened our subject, speaking of the Lord recalling to the minds of his people past experiences of his gracious dealings; showed that the Lord did this in various ways, under different circumstances, and for different purposes-sometimes to strengthen faith, encourage and lift up when cast down, &c. &c. ; while it was also done in a way of reproof, to bring us to a consideration of our ways, when wandering from him, &c. &c. We considered this a sweet testimony that he would not finally leave us (Ps. Ixxxix. 30 to 37). We showed that in this way the words were introduced in the text referring to the context. Israel, after God had known him in the wilderness, as soon as he was in possession of the land of promise, wandered from him. (See v. 6). We showed how this was verified in our own conduct, when, as a consequence, we found God meeting us, as the lion, the leopard, and the bear of verses 7, 8. That when in this way we were duly humbled, then the cry on the Lord's part was that of verse 9. Our proposed heads of discourse were
1.-The Wilderness States and Conditions of the Lord's People. II.-The particular Blessing found by them at these times. III.-The need of a Wilderness State, in order to our duly appreciating the
Blessing found therein. We described three different wilderness states in which the Lord's family were to be found ; in each of which something was, sooner or later, known of the blessing spoken of in the text. The first, that wherein God was pleased to lead us, on his first discovery of us to ourselves. As the Israelites did not attain to the land of promise without first passing through the wilderness, so God's elect did not find the promised rest of the word till they had first discovered to them in what a wilderness state they were by nature, and into what a land of drought they had come in the fall (Amos, ii. 10). This, our first experience in the discovery of our wilderness state, is not in all to the same extent of trial and soul-suffering; neither, in all cases, one of similar duration. The sovereignty of God, as directed by infinite wisdom, and accomplishing certain ends, in the case of each one of his elect, directs and orders here. Still a wilderness is known to them; a land of great drought is that wherein they find themselves. A discovery is made huw entirely we come short of what a God, so holy as is the Lord, must require his people to be, and without which there can be no walking peaceably together of the creature and the Creator (Amos, iii. 3). It is when a poor sinner's eyes are opened to see something of what he is in himself, and what God is in himself, while at the same time he remains ignorant of Christ, and the truth in Christ, he comes into a wilderness state. When Jer. xvii. 9; Matt. xv. 19, 20, is seen by him, as too faithful a representation of himself, and affording such a comment on Rom. iii. 10 to 18, as to make that description of man, by nature, too accurately draw the lines and the features of his own mental character; showing him to be justly and necessarily excluded, as in himself,
from any participation of the favour of God, by his works; which, alas! all of them bear too strong a confirmatory witness to that sentence of condemnation which is passing within, from the law of God, on his awakened conscience (Rom. iii. 19, 20). We contrasted the religion which began in this wilderness state with that which was carried on without any heartfelt acquaintance with our state by nature, under the delusion that, in ourselves, we were rich, and increased with goods, and in need of nothing. Of those whose own labour, strength, wisdom, and knowledge were sufficient for the attainment of heaven under the Gospel dispensation, who were quite happy in themselves, satisfied and contented with themselves, because they were religious; had made themselves so under the power of the moral suasion of some good man or good book; professing to believe that if they did their part, God would, as he had done, do his; and they had nothing to fear. We contrasted this with the religion of one taught of God, to whom was shown his own helplessness, his destitute state by nature, his incapacity for any one spiritual thing God requires of his people (Rom. vii. 9 to 14). And then appealed to those who had been brought into such a state as thiswhether that was not a wilderness state-a land of great drought, in which God had known them. Fulfilling his own word (Isa. Ixv. 1), and showing them the propriety of the apostle's particular way of speaking (Gal. iv. 9), when he says, After that ye have known God; OR RATHER, ARE KNOWN OF GOD. We spoke of another wilderness state, differing from this, to which the Lord's people are subject, after they have been led through this one. In this ignorance of Christ and Gospel truth was their case ; while in their after wilderness states, it was not ignorance of Christ and truth, but being left for a time without the sensible influences of the Spirit, or presence of the Lord, and often under the frowns of his countenance, while there was a discovery of nothing but the sin that dwelleth in then-the scorpions, fiery serpents, and drought which are found in a wilderness (Deut. viii. 15). In these after wilderness states, we discover that no better than when first brought into the wilderness, can we, of ourselves, by any inherent power, strength, or grace, serve the Lord. That when the Lord withdraws, and leaves us to ourselves, we are, in proportion, palsied, as to any spiritual exertion, energy, activity, or power. We endeavoured to describe some of these states into which the Lord's dear and loving children are bronght, showing how they were spiritually enervated under them, and how trying they were to the spiritual minds, which knew anything of the value of living in the sensible enjoyment of the presence of Jesus and his Spirit-with the love of the Father shed abroad in the heart, with a divine unction. That numerous, various, and often complicated trials attended these states, making them of a wilderness kind, wherein we were destitute of all sensible comfort, &c. The third wilderness state, or being in a land of great drought, to which we were subject, we stated to be in the experience of the more heavenly and spiritually-minded of the Lord's family; of those to whom this world, and the things of it, had become really empty, vain, and worse than unsatisfying. To such, then, present existence is become altogether a wilderness state, as it regards the world in which they are dwelling. They feel it to be so; their longings for the better world are become earnest, fervent, and constant (Ps. lv. 6; 2 Cor. v. 1 to 8). These live near to the Lord; but it is in a wilderness, in a land of great drought; yea, it is their very privileged weanedness from the world, with their affections set on things above, and their conversation in heaven, that makes room for Jesus, and is one cause of their more regular sensible realizing of his presence.
II.–Of the particular Blessing found by the Lord's People in these States and Conditions.
Hosea, ii. 14; Ezek. xx. 35 to 38. Under this head we spoke, first, of the great difference between serving and seeking God, because we knew him, and loved him for his own sake-or serving and seeking a God of whom we know nothing--merely because we conceived we were fulfilling a duty, the attention to which would exempt us from hell, and admit us to heaven, as a place of freedom from hell's torments. We showed that, while the knowledge of God had Huthing to do with the religion of the latter, the religion of the former had all its worth from our knowledge of, and consequent enjoyment of, God (Isa. xvii.