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Christ crucified; though put to death in weakness, yet living by the power of God, being made “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” unto his people (1 Cor. i. 23 ; 2 Cor. xiii. 4 ; 1 Cor. i. 30), « who was verily foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter, i. 20), as the hidden mystery now made manifest. Thus he becomes the centre of attraction to the whole church, being God's unpeakable gitt, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ; “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever, amen” (Rom. xi. 36).
In following the apostle through his ministration, we shall find the blessed working of the power of grace upon his soul, and which forms the contrast between nature and grace. Thus blessedly brought into the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, he speaks of his being the hope of glory; not merely as the Christ crucified to which a part might be given without any acquaintance with the end and design of that wonderful act, but as the Christ (I say the Christ, in order to be understood as speaking of God's Christ, which alone can be said to be in you) in you and with you; dwelling in your hearts by faith (Eph. iii. 17), and being one with you in the eternal and everlasting union subsisting between him as the head and his church the body, “the fulness of him who filleth all in all ” (Eph. i. 23). Thus union becomes the ground-work upon which the whole superstructure of grace is erected ; for if there were a possibility for this union to be dissolved, immediately must go the whole plan of grace, seeing that the whole purpose and pleasure of Jehovah stands upon this base, of which Paul was fully, aware. And in no one instance do we find him overlook the same ; for though often found dwelling upon the high and eternal acts of Jehovah in his love, choice, and acceptance of the church, we find that each one is in connexion with the Lord Jesus. Thus, he blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the one who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, who hath chosen and predestinated us to the adoption of children, accepted us, and given us redemption through blood; but it is his blood, and with him are deposited the blessings, and through him our adoption is manifested (Eph. i. 3–7). Farther, we are said to be saved and called with a holy calling, not according to our works, but of his own purpose and grace “given to us in Christ" (2 Tim. i. 9); we are washed by regeneration, and continually favoured with renewings of the Holy Ghost, which are abundantly shed on us " through Christ Jesus our Saviour” (Titus, iii. 5). We are made, by the special favour of God, the subjects of faith ; yet the life we live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. ii. 20); or, in other words, the whole sum and substance of our faith is Christ. This Paul knew, and therefore taught it.
Another branch of the apostle's preaching arising from what has gone before, was the state of non-condemnation into which the church was brought by virtue of this union; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. i. 1). There is a threefold sense in which we may speak of being in Christ : first, from all the ancient settlements of grace which have bound and secured all the
members in the one glorious Head ; secondly, from that personal act of the Lord Jesus in loving the church, and giving himself for it, that he might present it unto himself a glorious church (Eph. v. 25, 26); and thirdly, in their being sought out and brought home from all their wanderings upon the high mountains of darkness, until which time they are alienated in their minds, and enemies to God; who being thus brought nigh through the blood of the cross, have their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and are enabled to hold fast their profession without wavering (Heb. x. 22, 23); they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Nor shall we be said to err when we say, that under this state it is that the contrast between nature and grace is both seen and known ; the portrait Paul gives of himself in the seventh chapter is a correct likeness of all; it is the mirror to discover the imperfections of one, and to bring up to view the beauty of the other, with the mind we serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom. vii. 25). It is well while in the flesh not to walk after it ; yet to feel all its workings and enmity against the Lord indicates life, and shows the beginning of a good work which must be certainly carried on, and will be perfected until the day of Christ (Phil. i. 6).
From the impossibility of condemnation arises also that of no separation ; for those who walk after the Spirit, or are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God (Rom. viii. 14); who while called to pass through tribulation, and suffer distress, persecution, famine, and all the wretchedness of this barren wilderness, can by no means be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, but shall through him be made more than conquerors, having now their conversation in heaven, from whence they look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. iii. 20).
Lastly, the workings of grace stretch beyond the narrow bounds of time; and not only sit down in heavenlies, but feel a confidence of partaking of that glory which shall be revealed, reckoning the sufferings of this present time not to be compared thereunto. “For it is a faithful saying, if we be dead with him we shall also live with him ; if we suffer we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim. ii. 11, 12); and amidst all Paul's sufferings he was not ashamed, “ for he knew whom he had believed,” and was persuaded of his ability to keep that which he had committed unto him against that day (2 Tim. i. 12). He therefore, girding up the loins of his mind with sobriety, is found hoping to the end for the grace that is to be wrought at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. i. 13); “forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” he presses “towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. iii. 13, 14). Who can view the subject without being led to exclaim, “What hath God wrought ?” What a contrast! Oh the wonderful workings of divine grace ! “Saul, the young man” at whose feet they laid their clothes down when they stoned Stephen, is now become “ Paul the aged ;" grown old in the service of him for whom he counts it an honour to be a prisoner (Philemon, 9). And while the chains by which he is bound oft remind him what the end would be,
yet for the hope of Israel did he press them to his heart (Acts, xxviii. 20); and affectionately entreats those for whom he travailed in birth, “to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called” (Eph. iv. 1).
What, my dear reader, says your heart to these things ? Are you made acquainted with the contrast between nature and grace ? On whose side are you found ? Recollect, there is no medium between. “ The young man Saul” left those he formerly associated with, when he assayed to join the disciples ; there is distinctly an opposite, if you are under nature it will be seen, and if you are under grace it will be shown. The Lord grant to both you and me that grace for decision of character, that all may take notice that we have been with Jesus. And amidst all the workings of our poor ungodly and unhallowed nature, with all the belchings forth of that cesspool of iniquity, the human heart, may we find the sweet assurance of divine grace rise above all, enabling us to " put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. xii. 14). August 11, 1841.
THE STATE OF THE TIMES. CONTEMPLATING the present condition of our once highly-favoured country, and the state of the times generally, we thought the rehearsal of the subjoined anecdote not inappropriate, nor would it prove unacceptable to many of our readers. Would that we could discover a deeper concern upon the minds of the children of God in reference to the present alarming state of affairs : we live not, as many do most falsely suppose, in a day of Gospel light and liberty, under the clear shining of the Sun of Righteousness : alas ! alas ! 'tis just the contrary, Profession in our day is a substitute for possession ; God is dishonoured; his truth treated with indifference; and, as a consequence thereof, a cloud hangs over us, which, if in our opinion we do not greatly err, gathers blacker and blacker, and will ere long burst in tremendous fury over our heads. For many years the barriers by which God's truth has been instrumentally protected, have one by one been giving way. Under the specious garb of a mis-called charity, Popery has been suffered to make its treacherous inroads; another barrier, we are informed, has just exhibited proofs of the insecurity of its foundation, in the leading article of the great literary engine of the day. And thus the man of sin insidiously advances ; by and by he will arise as a mighty conqueror; he will wield his sword with terrific violence, “silencing the witnesses” of the Lord God of Sabaoth, causing them to retreat to their chambers in sackcloth and ashes until the times and time and halfa-time shall have ended, and the worshippers of the outer court shall have gone over to the mystic foe, or received the due reward of their deeds. Then shall dawn that glorious era--that auspicious day-when new life from the Fountain of life shall enter into his silenced ones ; the Babylonish whore shall be finally crushed; and the church of the living God rise in tenfold splendour. Light, life, love, shall reign around. A second Pentecost day shall dawn. Our glorious God and his Christ shall be the all-engrossing theme. The Jews shall be gathered in with the fulness of the Gentiles. The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, and he shall reign with universal sway. Oh, glorious day! oh, blissful era!
“Fly, swiftly round, ye wheels of time,
And bring the welcome day." , Believer, lift up thy head with joy: thou who now “ fearest as thou enterest into the cloud,” be not discouraged, thy God—the God in whom is thy trust is the true, the faithful, the Almighty Jehovah; he will defend, he will preserve thee, and bring thee through. If thou wert called to seal thy testimony with blood, he would strengthen thee even for that ; for the power, the grace is in and from him, and not in or from thyself. Fear not, nor be discouraged, for thou shalt not be confounded, world without end.
A short time before the demise of Queen Anne, as Bishop Burnet was riding slowly in his coach, round that part of Smithfield whence so many blessed martyrs ascended to heaven, he observed a gentleman standing on the spot, in a musing, pensive attitude, and seemingly quite absorbed in thought. His lordship ordered the carriage to stop, and sent his servant to the person with a request that he would come to his coach side. He did so, and proved to be Dr. Evans, a very eminent Dissenting minister, of whom the bishop had some knowledge. “Brother Evans," said the prelate, "give me your hand and come up hither; I want to ask you a question.” The doctor being seated and the coachman ordered to continue driving round as before, the bishop asked the doctor, “what it was that directed his steps to Smithfield ? and what he was thinking of while he was standing there?" "I was thinking," answered the other, “ of the many servants of Christ who sealed the truth of their lives in this place. I came purposely to feast my eyes once more, with a view of that precious spot of ground. And as public matters have, at present, a very threatening aspect, I was examining myself whether I had grace and strength enough to suffer for the Gospel, if I should be called to it, and was praying to God that he would make me faithful even to death, if it should be his pleasure to let the old times come over again.” “I myself came hither,” replied the prelate," on the same business; I am persuaded that, if God's providence do not interpose very speedily and almost miraculously, these times will, and must, shortly return. In which case you and I shall probably be two of the first victims that are to suffer death at that place," pointing to the paved centre.
But it pleased God to disappoint their fears by giving a sudden turn to national affairs; within a few weeks Queen Anne was gathered to her fathers, and King George I. was proclaimed.
: THE EDITOR.
OUR PORTRAIT-REV. R. HALE. Mr. Hale was born October 10th, 1773, near Gainsborough, Yorkshire ; his father was of the ancient family of the Hales residing at King's Walden, Hertfordshire. Mr. Hale was one of twenty-one children, and the only one who had any infirmity, being lame from the time he was two years old ; and in December, 1810, was obliged to come up to London in order to have his leg amputated. Previous to this time he was in every sense of the word a worldly man; and being