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would favour his family with that unity which they possessed in apostolic times, when the multitude of them which believed “were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts, iv. 32), then there could be no schism in the body, whatever hostility earth and hell might raise against it. It is now too manifest to be denied, that every description of unbelievers is confederated against the body of Christ; Papists, Infidels, nominal Protestants—both Churchmen and Dissenters—who have no grace in their hearts, are all at war with vital godliness, and with the family who possess it : each party is pursuing its own carnal objects, but, like a gang of thieves, they are perfectly agreed in the assault upon the living church ; and, no doubt, will agree until they come to divide their booty, when the strongest will take the largest share. Oh that the children of God were wise enough to unite in one common bond all the spiritual members of the spiritual body, avoiding all confederacy with the carnal; but loving one another with pure hearts fervently, and with one mind and one mouth glorifying God!
Let them all look with single eye to the exalted Head of his body, the church, and bow to his sovereign rule, obeying all his written injunctions—not seeking their own things, but the things which are Jesus Christ's ; then shall the unity of the Spirit be preserved in the bonds of peace, and there shall be no schism in the body.
But if the members of the real church of God will continue to bite and devour one another, until they be devoured of one another, what can be expected but that Popery and Infidelity will seize upon them as their prey ? And if those who call themselves Protestants reject the essential doctrines of Protestantism, and embrace the fatal free-will heresy, which is the quintessence of Popery, then Popish ascendency seems inevitable.
I will now just glance at this portion of Holy Writ in another point of view, considering the body spoken of as a distinct church of Christ, assembling “ with one accord, in one place.” Alas! alas ! where is the body of this description in which there is no schism? Where is the Christian church in which there is not a Judas, a Demas, a Simon Magus, or a Diotrophes ; roots of bitterness springing up to trouble the church and martyr the pastor, by promoting schism in the body ?
Much of this mischief may be traced to the absence of New Testament discipline ; if the pastor neglect to rule (Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24), and the deacons refuse to hold up his hands, republicanism is the unavoidable consequence. And not only will there be schism in the body, but almost every member will be a schismatic ; for when the people find that there is no one to rule over them, every one will wish to be a ruler, and the whole body be likely to be rent in pieces. Every well organized body must have a head, to whom final appeal must be made ; so in a society for moral or religious purposes, the president is that head, and his decision is final. In a Christian church the pastor is that head, and his decision ought to be final and conclusive ; for he is the overseer whom the Holy Ghost hath set over the flock (Acts, xx. 28). Let, then, the elders or pastors rule well, and be counted worthy of double honour (1 Tim. v. 17); and let the deacons keep to their work, and, like Aaron and Hur, hold up his hands. Then will the people learn to obey, and there will be no schism in the body.
I know that this discipline does not suit the religious Radicalism of the present times, but I equally know that it is the discipline of the word of God; nor can the churches be safe from the sin and error of schism, until it be universally adopted and strictly followed out. For it is as imperative a duty for Christian pastors to rule their flocks, as it is to labour among them in word and doctrine; and the divine blessing may be as confidently expected upon the one as upon the other, so to preserve unity that there shall be no schism in the body.
Brethren, beloved of the Lord-elect, redeemed, regenerated brethren, be not hasty in censuring these remarks ; compare them with the written word of God, pray over them, and then act upon them as far as the Holy Ghost gives you light and life so to do ; and may the God of peace and love revive vital godliness among us, and restore primitive discipline to us, is the prayer of yours to serve in the Gospel of Jesus
THE WEEPING CHRISTIAN.
HE THAT GOETH FORTH AND WEEPETH, BEARING PRECIOUS
SEED, SHALL DOUBTLESS COME AGAIN WITH REJOICING, BRINGING HIS SHEAVES WITH HIM.-Psalm CXXVI. 6.
With what more suitable portion can the Editor of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE meet his readers, upon their entering a new year ? It is one which is full of rich consolation to the church of the living God. May He who indited it, and who has preserved it among the records of his own truth to the present hour, be pleased to open up to our view a little of its blessedness!
The various trying exercises through which you, dear brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, have been called to pass during the year, which, by the time this number of the Magazine is in your hand, shall have passed away, being still fresh upon your mind, with trembling steps you tread upon the threshold of the year 1841 ; and though various and multiplied are your sources of sorrow and perplexity, yet each enters the new year with comparative anxiety, and inquires “What shall it produce? To what new conflicts shall it introduce us ? Oh, shall we, at the close of the year upon which we are entering, have cause, as upon the preceding one, to exclaim, 'He hath done all things well !!” Brethren, beloved, such questions may be multiplied to an incalculable extent, without the possibility of an answer which shall satisfy your inquiring minds ; but, blessed be God, in the words before us we have a promise, which, if the Lord the Spirit is pleased in even your deepest seasons of solicitude, to convey with power to your mind, will answer your inquiries in the joy of your hearts.
Doubtless, in the higher sense of the expression, the whole passage refers to our beloved Lord; for having, according to ancient settlements, espoused our cause, he in the fulness of time “passed by the nature of angels, and took upon him the seed of Abraham ;" was “conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary ;" was “born under the law, that he might redeem those that were under the law ;” was “made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree.” Dear Jesus, thine was a painful cause indeed ; thou didst go forth weeping, “bearing our reproach ;” but, thanks to thy holy name, thou didst “ finish the work which the Father gave unto thee to do,” and thou art returned to glory in all the fulness of thy character as the God-man Mediator, there to “ behold the travail of thy soul, and to be satisfied.” Yea, thou art even now gathering home thy people, one by one, out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, as so many shocks of corn fully ripe, until by and by the heavenly garner shall have received the full supply which grace had eternally provided.
The minister whom God has sent forth into his vineyard, and the private believer whose eyes the Lord has opened to discover the real state of the church in the present day, “ go forth weeping ;' bearing the “precious seed” of prayer and holy wrestling on behalf of Zion. Such men see that she is sunk deeply into a kind of Laodicean apathy; that she has joined a confederacy with the outer-court worshippers, who have beguiled her with their misguided zeal and hypocritical devotedness ; and they mourn in the prospect of that dismay, confusion, and distress, which shall overtake her when the separating day, which is now, in our opinion, rapidly approaching, shall have arrived; when, roused by the out-bursting of Popery in all its satanic power, winning over to itself the great body of mankind, both professors and profane, she struggles to disentangle her ensnared feet : her eyes are opened to these fearful realities just time enough to endure all the enmity and persecution which mystic Babylon, during her short triumph of a time, and times, and half-a-time, can inflict. Then mourning and lamentation, if not in some cases temporal destruction, shall take hold upon the majority of the sons and daughters of Zion. Here will be a state of worse than Babylonish captivity—when their “dead bodies” shall lie in the street of the great city (Rev. xi. 8); when they shall not be permitted to buy or sell (Rev. xii. 17); and when those who have the dominion shall “ rejoice over them and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another” (Rev. xi. 10). But though now in the prospect, and then in the realization, Zion may weep, she shall assuredly “come again with rejoicing, bringing her sheaves with her ;” for from the same chapter we learn (v. 11), that “ After three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” What a glorious era---what a rejoicing day-shall then dawn upon the church! Then cometh the
final destruction of the whore of Babylon ! Then shall the church of the living God rise out of her obscurity; and then, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, shall be heard “great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.”
“He that goeth forth and weepeth.” Is the reader among the number? What, then, causes thee to weep? Art thou among the favoured few whom the Lord will not suffer to dwell in a state of carnal security ? Have thine eyes been opened to see the perishing nature of every earthly pleasure, and does a cry resound in thy ears, that “the end of these things is death ?” Is thy conscience burdened under a sense of guilt ? Does Moses appear before thee with a law which, though holy, just, and good, thou art sensible thou hast dishonoured ? Dost thou feel it to be a killing letter ? Does it, in its condemning power, seem to ransack every avenue of thy soul, and drive thee from all trust and confidence in it as a ground of acceptance before a holy, sin-avenging God? And, sensible of thy lost undone condition, trembling lest the next moment thou shouldst be cut off from the land of the living and sent to the nethermost hell, art thou going forth in the groanings of thy heart with the cry of the poor publican, “God, be merciful to me a sinner ?” Ah, cry on poor soul! the Lord enable thee to look to Jesus. He is, indeed, a mighty Redeemer ; he is “ able to save to the very uttermost all that come unto God by him.” Think of the expression, the very uttermost; beyond all thought, conception, or bounds. He has said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool'; though red like crimson, they shall be as white as snow.” It is bis own language, and takes in sins of deepest dye-sins which thou durst not tell to any creature living ; sins of thought, word, and deed ; sins against body and soul ; sins against God and man; sins of ignorance—sins against light and knowledge. “To the very uttermost" Jesus can, and does, and will save. He saves in spite of unbelief, a corrupt nature, and a lying adversary; he saves in defiance of all the powers of earth and hell. “None can stay his hand, nor say, What doest thou ?” He is mighty to save ! Go again, and again, and again to Him, poor sinner ! Never, never give up! We knew one once who was just in thy condition; his sins rose in such dreadful array against him the privileges he had abused—the mercies he had trifled with-the resolutions he had broken—and the pride, vanity, and ingratitude he had indulged in, that altogether his case seemed most awful, and he thought that in another day or two he should surely drop into hell. A heavy load of guilt pressed him down, and the certainty of perdition, if he died in that condition, made him tremble ; he fell upon his knees before the Almighty again and again, but obtained no relief. His case seemed to get worse and worse, and yet he trembled lest his trouble should wear off—as it had done many times before-and he be left without the assurance of pardoning love, and be suffered to go back contented with the world again. At length his fears were so great, that he resolved to try a throne of grace once more ; he thought that if he did not get what he wanted then, he surely should not be able to go again. He fell upon his knees; he was indulged with a wrestling spirit; promise after promise flowed into his mind; and with much earnestness and importunity was he enabled to pour them out at the feet of Jesus. “It is true I am a guilty sinner ; have sinned against thee in ten thousand instances; have made resolution upon resolution, but broken them all ; have wandered far from thee, and deserve nothing but eternal banishment from thy presence : but hast thou not said, I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me? Is it not thine own language? Canst thou be worse than thy word ? Hast thou not said, “Ask and ye shall receive ; seek and ye shall find ; knock and it shall be opened unto you? Lord, I come asking, let me receive ; seeking, let me find; knocking, let the door of mercy be opened unto me. Oh! give me a sense of pardoned sin ; give me a new heart, and renew within me a right spirit. Wash me in that fountain which thou hast opened for sin and uncleanness. And
"Then will I tell to sinners round,
He arose from his knees, walked to another part of the room; and as he stood pausing, relieved in some measure by the wrestling spirit with which he had been favoured, but at the same time sensible that he had not obtained what he wanted, a passage of Scripture which he had not thought of for many months, was carried with such blessed power to his heart as instantly relieved him of his burden as much as ever Bunyan's pilgrim was relieved at a sight of the cross. The passage was this, “Son, be of good comfort ; thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” Oh, what a blessed portion was that! It seemed to transplant the individual into a new world ; whether on earth or in heaven he could scarcely tell. His thoughts, affections, and desires, were in heaven ; and most glorious and soul-enchanting were his views of that blessed abode. In a few days at most he thought he should safely enter there ; earth was too mean, too contemptible a place for him to dwell upon. He forgot his duties ; he was like a man bereft of his reason, or otherwise had only just come to his right reason. The day of jubilee was come ; freedom from captivity was proclaimed ; the bondman was made free; the servant introduced to the privileges of a son ; the prodigal had returned to his father's house, and all were making merry. Oh, happy ! happy day! This, he thought, was to be made a Christian indeed! No wonder now that believers had always spoken so highly of their privileges ; for so ignorant was he, that these enjoyments he thought were for ever to continue.
Reader, and canst thou despair after this? Wilt thou not go again, wrestle again, confess your sins again; remind the Saviour of his ability to save, again ? Bear upon thine heart the case just mentioned, and say, “ Thou didst make thy mercy known unto one poor wretch ; Lord, extend it to another. Thou art as able to save now as thou wast then.