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man is to convert even God's gracious teaching into poison. However, the Lord is not to be defeated by Satan : and as the sun, by shining forth, insensibly draws the attention of men to his brightness and splendour ; so Jesus, in shining forth upon the soul, causes him necessarily to look toward the object of his confidence, adoration, and love.
ALFRED HEWLETT. Astley, Jan. 5, 1841.
TO THE EDITOR AND THE REST OF THE BRETHREN.
“Vanity of vanities—all is vanity.” DEAR BRETHREN,
The old year concludes, and the new year commences, with a heartfelt sense of the vanity of all things below. Conclusion is written on every period of time as it commences ; decay on every work of man; death on every being that enters life; disappointment in our projects; weariness in our pursuits ; deception where we confided; reproach where we expected commendation; bitterness and strife where we looked for love ; division where we anticipated union : but it is vain to specify, for all is vanity under the sun. If our possessions, our friends, leave not us, we shall surely leave them-death sums up the whole ; naked we came forth from the womb, naked we shall return to the dust. Of what profit is all our labour beyond getting food and raiment, or to have to give to those who need ? It is all vanity. Wherever the eye—the thought-turns, vanity of vanities is all that can be seen. We grasp something that is dear to us with an iron hand-a moment breaks the tie ; we anticipate the future with joyful expectation--it is never realized; we hope for health and strength to have our hearts' desire-sickness and weakness frustrate all our hopes, and we find that all is “vanity of vanities.” Surely, then, this world is all vanity and vexation to those who are not of it. Having pondered this in my heart, I am led to view the blessedness to the believer, that it is all vanity ; if really so, we have neither idols nor schemes, hopes nor expectancies--but in truth all is vanity, and the experience of it brings the soul more fully to that only perfect happiness of " looking unto Jesus.”
Most joyfully do I take the motto suggested by our brother; most fervently do I pray that the joy, the comfort, the peace, the practice of us all, may spring exclusively from “ looking unto Jesus ;” and though we find • that all in this world is vanity of vanities, looking unto Jesus gives us hopes beyond this life, of which none of the vanities of this perishing world can deprive us.
Commending our Editor and ourselves to him who alone can guard and guide us, Believe me, Brethren, beloved for Christ's sake,
Yours in sincerity,
B. C. S. January, 1841.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. Dear Sir,
I rejoice that you have entered on the year 1841, in the capacity of Editor of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE. The writer of this took in monthly, for nineteen or twenty years, the GOSPEL MAGAZINE; and often was refreshed in spirit by its monthly arrival of spiritual food to his soul. Last January, under the new Editor, I declined taking it in, as I did not like the doctrines contained in it. I took in other magazines, but was not exactly satisfied with them. However, I saw the GOSPEL MAGAZINE advertised under the superintendence of a new Editor, and something bold and magnanimous in the show card. I thought I would again order it through my bookseller; it was two or three months before I could get it. After great impatience I had four or five Numbers together, and greatly were the pieces blessed to me; especially that piece, “ Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Just at that time I was under sore temptation—the hidings of God's face-no heart to pray-full of confusion and rebellion-hard as steel; but oh! blessed be my God and Saviour, he broke my hard heart in reading that piece; made me to groan out, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Oh what blessed love flowed into my soul! I could then say again, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Only a day or two before I received this month's Magazine, and since I have read it, I have been in a dreadful state of mind; no shining on its pages, nor in my heart from the Holy Spirit.
I have been from day to day, since this year has begun, under sore temptation * * *. How doth it plague my soul! What guilt, dryness, and barrenness, does it leave on my conscience ? I am ready to say I must give up all for lost; I seem to be like Tamar parting from Ammon, full of iniquity, shame, and disquiet. My misery under these trials and sore conflicts, is miserable to me; the reflections of my betrayed heart stare upon me, as Delilah did on Samson. Oh then my soul is as weak as water! and did not the Lord uphold me, my footsteps would slip. Dear sir, should I go on to number up the deceits that are within me, they would be innumerable ; only it seems some ease to write to one that I am fully aware is acquainted with my case. I do desire to commit my way unto the Lord ; that would be the way to fight against my lusts with much advantage.
I know I cannot put forth any power against one lust of the heart or evil way, but by being first dissolved into the Lord, and then appearing against it in his power; the snares of temptation will vanish at the Lord's appearing for my help. Oh for the newness of the Spirit to see the new creature, that old things may pass away from one end of the soul to the other! I know the power is of God; and the dark designs of the lust within me labour to destroy my interest in Christ, ruin my soul, and make me what Satan often tells me I am, a hypocrite-a child of the devil. Oh my God, in the power of my dear Saviour raise my head out of this misery, and the sin that so easily besets me. I often groan out, “Lord, slay me rather than I should sin against thee.” May you, or some one of your correspondents, under the unctious power of the Spirit, dictate a word of season to my case. · I am, dear Sir, yours, I humbly hope, in union with the Saviour,
ONE OF LITTLE ZOAR, NEAR DEVIZES. January 6, 1841.
[Poor soul! we can only give thee one word of advice, and that is, to commend thee
to the loving heart of a compassionate Redeemer.
“ His heart is made of tenderness,
His bowels melt with love." Oh! that the blessed and eternal Spirit—the testifier of Jesus—may lead thee to Gethsemane's garden, there to behold thy lovely Lord so burdened with thy transgression, and with the weight of the sin of his whole body the church, as to be in an agony, and sweat as it were “great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” And may that self-same Spirit, who has graciously promised that he will take of the things of Christ and show them unto us,” lead thee thence to Calvary, there to behold thy Surety-thy covenant Head and Lord-nailed to the accursed tree, and enduring, in his own person, the wrath of God against iniquity. “Ah!" but we seem to hear thee exclaim, “I can contemplate all these things without emotion; the language of the poet exactly suits my case
«Of feeling all things show some sign,
But this unfeeling heart of mine.'” True, beloved ; but if the Lord the Spirit leads thee into a discovery of thy lost, ruined, and undone condition ; if he reveals afresh to thee (what we doubt not he has in days that are past) the vengeance of divine wrath as threatening to appease itself in thy destruction as the just reward of thy transgression; and then is pleased to reveal to thine affrighted soul a suffering, bleeding Saviour, as undertaking for thee—as dying for thee-as placing himself in thy stead ; if he condescends to lead thee into an experimental acquaintance with the language of the poet :
“I saw one hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood;
As near his cross I stood.
Another look he gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
I die that thou mayst live.' We say, if God the Holy Ghost is pleased thus to lead thee, this will break thy fetters—burst thy bonds-make sin, which now seems to engross thy whole affections, and threaten to deluge thy soul, appear to thee exceeding sinful; and cause thee to hate it, and thyself on account of it, with a perfect hatred. Such a sight as this will do for thee more then ten thousand resolutions of thine own making, which the devil and thine own heart lead thee to make, to pacify a guilty conscience and keep thee away from Jesus, who alone can help and deliver thee. Such a revelation of the grace, and love, and mercy of thy Lord towards thee, will melt thee into sweetest penitence at his dear feet; so that thou shalt feelingly realize in thy soul's experience the truth of the passage (Zech. xli. 10), “ They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and weep and mourn."
The Lord enable thee, poor soul, to cast thy poor naked, helpless, sin-burdened soul upon him who is mighty to save, Thy case may appear in thine own eyes a hopeless one ; destruction, or at least an open fall, with all its painful consequences, may seem to thee inevitable: but it is at once our mercy and our privilege to direct thy trembling, afflicted soul to him who is able to baffle the tempter - to break the snare of the fowler-and to set the poor captive free. We will tell thee a case in point. Some ten years ago, we knew an individual—a young man—who in an unwary moment was introduced by a pretended friend to a family, the members of which were professing, and, as he had been given to understand, God-fearing people. He repeated his visits to this family evening after evening, notwithstanding there were many things in their general demeanour which ill accorded with his feelings, and brought a measure of disquietude upon his conscience. At times, in moments of calm reflection, he resolved to discontinue his visits altogether; but as evening drew near, and the duties of the day afforded him a few hours for recreation, his inclination to spend it as the previous
evenings had been spent, proved irresistible; and thither would his doubtful, hesitating feet conduct him. At length his peace was gone; satisfaction in the society of those nearest and dearest to him was lost; and no pleasure could he experience in the performance of those duties which once afforded him the utmost delight. Gradually declining, step by step-by little and little-- he who had mistaken the character of the society to which he had been introduced, at length found himself so entangled, his feet so completely taken in the snare, that destruction seemed inevitable. An awful outward fall he felt sure would be his lot; and so agonizing were his feelings, so hopeless his condition, that he was led to beg of the Lord that he would not suffer him long to continue in a state of hardness of heart, but that he would be pleased speedily to renew him again unto repentance. This was awful ground, it is admitted; but such were the power of corruption, the unbelief of the heart, and the temptations of the great adversary, that the individual referred to was got beyond any hope or expectation of deliverance. In this fearful dilemma—when the tempter was not only listened to, but opportunities were absolutely sought to yield to his wily suggestions-it pleased a gracious, wonderworking God, to interpose in this singular way. One of the family alluded tothe particular object of attraction—was said to have spoken against a dear relative; in a fit of desperation the individual previously referred to went and charged her with it, and then said, though in the n:ost perfect weakness, and in the full belief that he should not be able to carry out his resolution a single day, God helping me, I will never frequent that house as I have been accustomed to. The snare from that moment was broken. He whose "feet were almost gone, and whose steps had well nigh slipped,” was most mercifully delivered ; and to the praise of a I'riune Jehovah be it spoken, has been kept by the mighty power of God, even unto this day.
The Lord thus vouchsafe deliverance unto thee, poor tempted soul; for nothing is “ too hard” for him.-Ed.]
THE ELEVENTH HOUR.
(Concluded from p. 30.) To hasten, however, to the closing scene. Some months had rolled over since the writer had heard anything of “W.," when a letter in his own hand-writing, addressed to some relatives at a distanee, was put into his hand. It was written in an altered style, acquainting them of his serious illness ; and while it humbly sought their assistance, expressed a belief his malady had made such progress that he thought their aid would not long be necessary. The letter was enclosed in an envelop, requesting that the writer should investigate the truth. He did so. Poor “W.” was seated by a scanty fire in an upper half-furnished room. Oh! how altered his appearance ! The haggard fallen cheek had taken the place of the bloated countenance. The voice was weak and faltering ; his breathing short and irregular. He had been exposed to the wet-a cold had settled upon his lungs—and a long and tedious cough had reduced his once powerful frame to that of a mere skeleton. The writer having taken his seat beside him, and made inquiries into the nature and origin of his disease, said, “• W.,' it would be cruel to deceive you ; your complaint appears to be one that has taken many of your family into another world.” He replied, I know it, and believe I shall never recover. The former said, “ What is the state of your mind in the prospect of death? You are not,” he continued, “destitute of knowledge. You know that there is but one way of acceptance, and only one ground of hope for poor sinful man; that is, in and through Christ Jesus.” He said, I know it; but I have been a great sinner. “You have," was the reply; "and doubtless Satan, the great enemy of God and man, will say that there is no mercy for you ; but he was a liar from the beginning, for Jesus is able to save to the very uttermost
all that come unto God by him ; and he has said, “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'” He said, My continual cry is, that he would have mercy upon me. Sometimes I have a little hope that he will, at other times I am almost ready to despair. “God has preserved you all these years,” said the writer, “in moments of imminent danger,* when he might in judgment have cut you off in a moment while in a state of intoxication ; and who knows but that he has preserved you to make known in you the riches of his grace ?” Referring to his preservation, he said, with much emphasis and evident astonishment, Hundreds of times! Taking from his pocket a copy of “Hart's Hymns,” and turning down certain pages for him to read, the writer, after some farther conversation, left him.
Another friend called, and in the course of conversation said, “ W.,' what is the state of your mind ?” He said, Oh, Sarah! I have not a prop to lean upon; it must be EXTREME MERCY that saves me!
A third friend called, and among other questions, asked him, “ How he used to feel when he heard his drunken companions reviling religion and good men ?" He replied, I never could bear to hear it ; I used to get up and walk away.
A lady-the wife of a clergyman-called upon him, and said, “ You have been a great sinner ; but if you only believe, you are a safe man.” He answered her sharply, with evident dissatisfaction, I believe Christ died for the ungodly; but I must have it personally applied to me before I can feel happy : adding the lines of the poet,
“Faith in the great Redeemer's name,” &c. Subsequent to his visit, the writer became the subject of much anxiety and depression. His mind was dark and gloomy as to his own state, as well as respecting that of his poor, afflicted, dying friend. But on the morning of the day in which he had purposed to pay his next visit, the Lord so very graciously set in with a “ Fear not,” that he was melted into tears and brokenness of spirit at his blessed feet; and was enabled to tell him that, notwithstanding all his recent fears and misgivings, he believed that he should be brought off more than conqueror, and live and reign with him for ever. Then he ventured to approach him with the case of his afflicted friend. “Lord,” said he, “it seems too much to ask of thee to let him leave a bright testimony; but if it be thy will, give us a hope respecting him. Thou hast preserved him to the present moment; and thou hast often given my soul such a sweet secret hope respecting him, that I cannot give him up. Be pleased now to show that that hope has not been vain, nor built upon a false foundation.” Towards the close of the day, he called upon him, and found him much weaker, and confined to his bed. His mind, he said, was somewhat composed; But, he added, I want the Saviour to say to me, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.' “Ah !" said the writer, “ that is what I want him to say to you; then your pillow will be easy ; then your mind will be relieved; then death will have lost its sting; nor will you fear it, nor all its consequences. Oh! that you may be enabled to think of Jesus—what he has done and suffered, and of the many precious promises contained in his word. He has said, “ Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' 'He hath never said unto the seeking seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.'” But, said he, he does not seem to hear me. “Then seek him more earnestly; give him no rest. Tell him of his ability to save—that you- have no doubt about his power, but you question his willingness. Think of a dying thief, who found mercy at the eleventh hour; of an adulterous David; a bloody Manasseh; a backsliding Ephraim; a denying Peter; a Mary Magdalene ; a Saul of Tarsus ; and tell him that he is able to save even you. Do you doubt his power ?" Oh, no! was the reply; and then with peculiar emotion he repeated those sweet words of the poet:
“ Just in the last distressing hour,
The Lord displays delivering power;
* One occasion in particular came upon the writer's mind, when in a fit of intoxication be fell from a high loft into a paved yard upon his head, without receiving the least injury.