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one ig doubtful whether he is born of God, let him ask himself—Do I love Jesus 1
Attention was finally directed to the awful truth that this father of 'the children of disobedience' has been a 'murderer from the beginning,' the success of his machinations being death to the race,—first in the garden of Eden, then in the times succeeding till the flood swept them all away, and so on afterwards, till his murderous lust culminated in the crucifixion of the Lord. But just when he thought himself most triumphant, he was being most signally defeated. God was come into the realm of Satan's usurped sway, and was rescuing out an innumerable multitude. These rescued ones (glory to God !) are, by the power of his Spirit and his Word, kept safe in the very scene itself from falling back again into Satan's power, and that, too, in spite of being such poor frail things!
THE FIRST TEMPTATION OF THE SECOND ADAM. (Rawstome-street, Saturdays, at Eight, May 13.) Luke iv. 1—4.
'And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil.' It was remarked that when 'full of the Spirit' believers also are impregnable to Satan's onslaughts, and also, that as with our Lord, so with us—when full of the Spirit we are led to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Hence St. Paul's exhortation—' Be filled with the Spirit.'
The redeemed of the Lord, though saved and brought out of Egypt, and receiving the gift of the Spirit, are yet left in the wilderness—left in the wilderness, but only to pass through it. Christians too often try to settle down in it, instead of pressing on, as pilgrims, and caring little for the pleasures of the way, looking for the Lord and the mansions he has prepared in the Land of Promise—the heavenly Canaan.
As with the Israelites, so with our Lord—one of the first temptations relates to hunger. But while the Israelites sadly failed in faith and patience,—were filled with raurmurings and desires to return to Egypt,—Jesus cast himself upon God, and waited till he should relieve his necessities. Let not the child of God be surprised if he have to endure for a season poverty and hunger. 'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience,' &C. May we be content to pray and wait.
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' Some Christians, it was observed, having accepted the word of life, and received salvation, neglect to go on feeding upon every word of God. This was applied to show the necessity for Scripture meetings such as the present: it was felt, indeed, that they were the special wants of the day, and it was well remarked that the more we lean on man, even though he be a true minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater will be the danger of getting wrong; we must, therefore, keep close to the Word, and check everything we hear by Scripture.
THE GLORY THAT IS TO BE REVEALED.
(Rawstome-street, Lord's Day Afternoon at 3. May 14.)
Revelation, iv. and v.
The connexion between these two chapters was pointed out; they form, indeed, one presentation of the divine ultimate idea of the state of things in heaven and earth. We see first the throne and Him that Liveth for Ever and Ever, whose holiness is the object of constant delightful contemplation and worship; then the Lamb in the midst of the throne, also the object of adoration; the Church,
round about and nearest to the throne; then the angelic natures in countless numbers encircling the Church, and finally the inhabitants of earth, all of whom join in the universal anthem.
The meeting had previously studied the fourth chapter, attention was therefore turned to the fifth.
John wept because no man was found worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof. The book here referred to is doubtless that containing the mysteries of the Revelation. How different is the thought of many Christians who believe the Revelation to be still a sealed book, and lay it aside with little regret. John 'wept much,' but the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailed, and prevails still, by his Spirit given unto us, for 'the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God.' He'shall show you things to come.'
As the Lion prevailed to open the book because He was worthy, in like manner those only who possess a derived worthiness can enter into its depths, by divine grace.
Oh, the glory of being called brethren by him who alone as man was found worthy in heaven and in earth I
It was remarked that the Divine Son appeared as a Lamb that had been slain. From this we may draw confidence. We can only say ' Holy, Holy, Holy,' with regard to Him that sits upon the throne, by being enabled to say ' Worthy is the Lamb.' The Redeemed, it would seem, can enter more deeply into the holiness of God than the angels.
Notice was then drawn to the fact that the same One who appeared as a Lamb that had been slain, possessed seven horns (perfection of power), and seven eyes (perfection of knowledge).
The harps in the hands of all the saints, was regarded as teaching that every saint will have many strings of sweet praise, and that heaven will be full of harmony. The odours (or prayers) in golden vials rendered it evident that when prayer is no longer necessary, the prayers of faith presented on earth will be so precious that they will be preserved in glory hereafter. Hence the word to Cornelius—' Thy prayers and thine alms have come up for a memorial before God.'
The three songs of the three orders of being were then contrasted, to all of which the Church says, in the last verse, ' Amen,' and worships the Father.
The meeting was somewhat hindered by a poor soul who had notions of special revelations being given to the Church now. He was invited to produce any of the prophecies of those who profess to receive and give these new revelations, that they might be compared with Scripture. But at the same time he was assured they would certainly be proved to be false—for if according to the written Word of God they could not be new revelations, and if not in accordance with Scripture they must needs be lies on the face of them. Those present, however, were pleased to see a degree of willingness in him to be checked by the Word, and as he left before the meeting was over, prayer was offered on his account. The Lord give his people patience to teach his Word and power to rebuke all heresy and traditions of men.
THE HIGH PRIEST AND FORERUNNER. (union Hall, St. John's-square, I'lerkenwell. Lord's Day Evening, May 14, I860.) Hebrews, vi. and vii.
One of the most interesting points developed in this passage is that 'God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.' The infinite descends to the weakness of men. If in any matter of dispute even between two men of the world, one of them takes a solemn oath, it is generally felt to settle the matter.
Melchisedec was considered a vision of Christ or glimpse of Christ himself; first, because it seemed to the meeting that Christ could not be a priest after an order inferior to himself; and secondly, because of the exalted language that is used with respect to Melchisedec.
Believers have a great consolation in the thought that their High Priest is a priest for ever. The Jews might have one year a high priest touched with a feeling of their infirmities, and the next year an unfaithful one.
The attention of the assembly was then directed to the intimate connection between faith, diligence, and hope, and it was shown that the passages chap, vi. 10—12, and 19, 20, prove that if the former slacken the latter will not be realised, so that the slothful Christian will not realise the 'full assurance of^faith,' and though really safe for eternity, yet like an unanchored vessel liable to be driven out of port, and buffeted about by the winds and waves of doubts and fears, temptations and sins.
It was remarked that the Christian ought to be influenced most by the highest motives of love and faith— not duty or personal good. To which it was truly observed that, like Abraham in this passage, we must desire little now besides the precious promises of God ; Abraham received the promise 'multiplying I will multiply thee,' and yet Isaac only was the present fulfilment, and that not till he was an old man.
A brother referred to the wonderful honour put upon the Church in that the Lord is here designated by the Spirit 'our Forerunner,' remembering that the duty of the forerunner is to herald the Coming One, and usually implies inferiority.—With regard to Christ's giving special honour to his Church, and assuming an honour-giving office, it was thought to be in beautiful harmony with the divine principle of giving honour to the weaker vessel—Christ the husband, the Church the spouse.
(33oA, Sthaki>, opposite Somerset House, Mondays, at 7 pm.)
liny 15. John iv. 10—19.
'.losus answered and said, If thou knewest the Gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and he would have given thee living water.'
The first thought laid upon the minds of those present, was that it is really through ignorance that sinners do not ask of Jesus, 'If thou knewest,' &c. But then it is a wilful ignorance for which they are responsible. For instance, it was said, we press souls to come to this Scripture meeting; we don't wish them to accept our words, but to listen to Christ. But they will not come; they therefore go on in wilful ignorance, unless the truth came to them from another quarter.
It was then remarked how patiently the Lord led the woman from truth to truth, and that He did not disdain single scholars. Indeed, the lessons he sometimes gave solitary hearers are of the greatest importance, because they were often of individual application. The result of the Lord's patience is pleasingly evident in the increasing respect of the woman towards him; he who was at first a despised wayfarer, is presently addressed as 'Sir,' and then admitted to be a prophet, and lastly believed in as Christ. So with us, when we were sinners 'Jesus was despised and rejected;' but his love overcame us, and now he ' is the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.'
Water, it was remarked, enters into and forms an essential part of tho constitution. The truth which Jesus delights to givo, not only slakes thirst and revives the spirit, but is needful to life and growth. Hence our Lord's admonition, 'Let my words abide in you.' Christ the Vine, we the branches, and his words the life-sap.
Attention was drawn to the disciples marvelling that he talked with the woman; the humility of the Lord Jesus is indeed to be marvelled at. But the Lord desired to bless other souls through her. When she believed him to be the Christ, she left her watcrpot, to tell others. The Lord put it into our hearts to leave our worldly affairs for a time with tho Lord,
and go with the truth to souls. Jesus works wonders where there is faith, in man or woman.
'Shall never thirst.' The more the worldling drinks of the satisfactions of the world—the waters of Egypt—tho moro he thirsts; but tho believer, drinking as a pilgrim of the living water from tho Kock that follows us, thirsts no more for the pleasures of tho world, does not crave them, and knows there is nothing half so satisfying as the living water.
COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL BY
(Written expressly for this publication.)
Vor. 14.—' And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and wo beheld his glory, tho glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.' We have seen in the first part of the chapter, how that the Son of God, as the Almighty Word, is the Creator and g^iver of Light and Life. In this passage he is presented to us in another aspect; he is no longer the invisible One, making himself heard and felt while shrouded in mystery. The world is to be no longer left in doubt about God. There is henceforth to be no excuse for man's ignorance as to what God really is ; ' the Word was, therefore, made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.' He who could not be seen by us in his essential being as Son of God, thus took our nature upon him, his creatures can now Know him, and those who receive him (i.e., believe on him), tee that he is 'full of grace and truth.' 'And we beheld his glory,' says the Apostle, ' the Glory as of the only begotten of the Father.' Faith could, and can, say ' He is all glorious to behold,' though unbelief says, 'ho is without form or comeliness.' He who here testifies of Jesus saw him on the Mount of Transfiguration, where it was made manifest that divine glory was his,—' the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.' There must bo no uncertainty as to the nature of Him who undertakes to be the Saviour of sinners, Creator, Sustainer, giver of Light and Life both temporal and eternal. He is now manifested full of Grace and Truth, and in his own glory—perfect glory, such as of necessity belongs to 'the only begotten of tho Father.'
15. 'John bare witness of him, and cried saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that comoth after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.' The mission of John tho Baptist was not to set up a new dispensation, nor to disturb anything which had been ordained of God. His life had been a sign and protest against the iniquity of the nation. The messenger of God, sent to prepare the way of the Lord, had been unable to dwell among those who called themsolves the people of God, He who had to proclaim the coming of the Righteous One, must keep himself in separation from evil. To those who had resorted to him in the wilderness John the Baptist had testified of the coming of Christ, but now ho is called forth to meet the Messiah, and to declare him as the Saviour of his people. 'The word of God came to John in the wilderness; and he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.' (Luke iii. 2, 3.) 'John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying unto tho people, that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus' (Acts xix. 4.) The Lord Jesus Christ having been introduced to us by the forerunner, John, in the 15th verse, we next get the sweet testimony of the disciple whom Jesus loved, John, the writer of the gospel.
10. 'And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.' This is the declaration of a heart full of the love of Jesus. The apostle, taking up all believers, not only affirms salvation in possession, but that we have received of the fine" of Christ. Because the objects of grace, we have received more grace, 'grace for grace.' 'Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance.' (Matt. xiii. 12.)
17. 'For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth camo by Jesus Christ.'
(To be continued, D.V.)
THE CITY OF CONFUSION,
(Isaiah xxiv, 10.)
A FAITHFUL WOED FOR CHRISTIANS.
THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD.
In this passage the word of prophecy clearly points forward to the time when Jesus will come, according to his promise, and God will bring with Him those who have fallon asleep in Him. It is very blessed to know that when the believer 'puts off this tabernacle' he falls asleep in Jesus. But this is not the proper expectation of the Christian, and is not the fulfilment of our Lord's promise to come again and take us home. When he comes we shall be raised in glorified bodies. The Lord himself, as he is, the Son of Man in person, as he passed from the earth, will then come. As it is said in Acts i. 11, 'Why stand ye gazing up into heaven P this same Jesus, which is thus taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have Been him go into heaven.' He will come as the visibly glorified one, to all who look for him. Turn to Acts iii. 20, 21: 'And God shall tend Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive Until the times of restitution of all things.'
This was the hope and expectation of the early Christians. 'Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to Wait for his Son from heaven.' (1 Thess. i. 9, 10.) 'For our conversation [or citizenship] is in heaven, from whence also we Look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall Change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body," &c. (Phil. iii. 20, 21.) Thus Christ's coming is connected, not with our death, but glorification. 'When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.' (Col. iii. 4.)
We are not now speaking of Christ's coming to the earth— a word on that subject presently. The event we are treating of is the assembling around himself in the air the whole company of believers gathered out of the world during the prosent dispensation. It will be the commencement of the first resurrection spoken of in Rev. xx. 5, 6. The thought very widely entertained of one general resurrection of the just and unjust at one and the same time, is quite contrary to the direct word ot prophecy. Believers in Christ will be raised in glorified bodies before the commencement of the reign of the Lord on earth. Those who die in unbelief will be raised for judgment after the thousand years of earthly blessing. "The Test of the dead lived not again until the thousand years wero finished."
Now we pray the reader's careful attention to the following passages from the "Word of God." They speak of the time under our consideration in terms quite unmietakable, if we are free from theories of our own or other men's invention. 'Behold, I show you a mystery; wo shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; lor the trumpet shall sound, and the dead— [those who sleep in Christ, as the context shows] shall be raised incorruptible,' &c. (1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.)—'For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then wo which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.' (1 Thess. iv. 14—18.)
The New Testament abounds with allusions to this glorious hope of the Christian; and though the vast majority of those who believe in Jesus pay no hoed to—nay, generally disbelieve these wonderful revelations of their Saviour's purposes respecting themselves, yet the plain declarations of scripture remain;
and the Lord has said * all must be fulfilled.' The word of warning He left us iB—* What I say unto you, I say unto All. Watch!'
[The development of this subject, viz., deliverance from the 'City of Confusion,' we purpose continuing from month to month.]
[Our Correspondent, J. S. J., has written us an exceedingly interesting'letter, which we have thought it best to answer at some length, and have therefore dealt with each paragraph separately—Ed.]
SCRIPTURE READING MEETINGS AND OTHER MATTERS.
(To the Editor of Precious Truth.)
Dear Sib,—1 am interested in your suggestions and counsels on the above subject. There are, however, one or two points on which I would make a few remarks. You say, 'Avoid lecturing as much as possible.' But if it happens that those present are unable or slow to give utteranco to any thought on the Word, must it be merely read and pondered in silonce, even if one's own heart and mind be 'full of matter' pertaining to the subject on hand which he designs to utter P
[ans. to Par 1.—It is a very common practice in Bible Classes for one or two leaders to chrage their minds with a quantity of learning, which they consider themselves bound to deliver to those who come together. There is a danger of the same thing creeping in at Scripture meetings. It was against everything of this character we desired to utter a word of warning. Be it far from us to counsel silence' when the heart and mind are lull of matter pertaining to the subject in hand.'—Ed.]
2. And this leads me to a further remark—' Never suffer the unconverted to speak,' &c. How am I, or any one, to know who theso are, in a promiscuous gathering of persons, till they bo made manifest as such? and even then, what power have we to hinder any who may choose to do so, except it be an occasion of annoyance and grief to all present? But if thoy speak the ' Oracles of God,' though but the mere letter ot the Word, why may it not be listened to, though coming possibly from an inquiring, though unconverted mind? Balaam 'prophesied' and uttered truth, though an enemy (I suppose) of Israel, and a false prophet. Still, I doubt not but that, by truly waiting on God for direction and counsel, a way will bo made open for avoiding anything unseemly or incongruous at such meetings. He will surely lead, guido, instruct, and bless.
[ans. to Par 2.—There are unhappily many mere professing Christians in these days companying with true believerspersons acquainted with much of the letter of the Scripture, and who consider themselves quite competent to teach others. The children of God 6hould beware of them. If they do not reveal themselves, of course we need take no account of them; indeed we should rejoice if they will attend as learners ; but if they begin to speak (we mean in the way of instruction or exhortation) it will be soon discovered that they are hindering the outflow of truth. If we are ' waiting on God for direction and counsel,' there will, we think, be an evident need for demanding of the speakers What they believe, and we doubt not it will be made manifest whether they know the Lord or - not. If they have not accepted Jesus as their Saviour, depend upon it anything they may offer will stumble others rather than help then:. All present at Scripture Meetings should, we think, have full liberty to put questions tending to elicit truth; and at all times we should encourage simple-hearted enquirers to ask for any explanations.
We cannot class Balaam among unbelievers or false prophets. Fa/te-hearteil he was; but, as you say, his prophecies were true ones, whereas a false prophet prophesies falsely. His case, therefore, does not help us with respect to this matter.—Ed.]
3. Again, I fear very much we may be over-scrupulous and hyper-critical in some matters; and I remark, in passing, that whilst desiring to maintain tho principlo of "proving all things," ono may bo led so to criticise the words and judgment of others, as to overlook that statement—" Charity hopeth all things, belioveth all things, thinketh no evil."
[Ass. to Par 3.—Christians should constantly exercise forbearance and love s while we do so, we need not fear being called 'hypercritical.' But let us be true to God. If a brother should speak his own thoughts, or the thoughts of others, and they are at variance with the Word of God, 'charity' teaches us to point out the truth, both for the profit of his own soul and those who sit by. But then, of course, those of us who have gift in any measure, and are led to teach others, must hold ourselves open to the same thing. This may be sometimes unpleasant to the flesh, but it is profitable to the spirit. It should make us watchful and prayerful, and cause us to cast ourselves entirely upon tho guidance of the Holy Ghost.]
4. With this feeling, I cannot heartily approve of the habit of a critical examination of the discourses of the good and holy men of our day. I fear it may he overdone. To err is human. We are full of imperfections. Wo must avoid making a man an ' offender for a word.' I read and hear discourses, and utterances in public prayer, the mere words of which do not commend themselves to my heart as being consonant with truth at all times; but I think of the probable intention and aim of the speaker, and check myself from judging that which may ho rightly put in his own mind. (See Acts xv. 8). For instance, I sometimes hear prayer that "God may send His Spirit." I do not join in this, as far as the mere words aro concerned, for I believe the Holy Spirit has been sent; but I accept the possiblo meaning of a frosh and realizing sense of His gracious presence. Just as you remark (No. 2, p. 11) on 1 John, 1—9, 'This is not so much afresh forgiveness as a re-assurance of it.' ThiB thought will apply to other points of doctrinal statements apparently contradictory to Scripture, hut probably, in tho speaker's mind and judgment, in harmony therowith. Does not Rom. xiv. 13 apply here f
Yours, in much affection, for Christ's sake, Crewe. J. S. J.
[ans. to Pah. 4.—We may very much respect the feeling which shrinks from dealing with the mistakes und failures of dear christians whose labours have been owned of the Lord, just as we sympathise with the tremor of faintness which seizes the young student of surgery when first he causes blood to flow from the flesh of a tellow-creature. Should we, therefore, tell him to abandon his profession? But the shuddering which is felt by the spectator at a surgical operation doubtless exceeds that which is experienced by the young surgeon. Lioes he, however, on that account seek to deter from the needfuluse of the knife ? Nay; he disregards his own feelings and suffers his friend, however dear, to be wounded that he may be healed. It is in this way we must exercise true christian love. It were indeed sad to make a brother 1 an offender for a word.' But if those who hold a foremost place as teachers, put forth continually utterances which are opposed to God's truth as revealed to us in Scripture, it is a libel on Charity to my in such a cose he 'believeth all things.' When prophets prophesy falsely is Charity to believe them? Nay, she 'rejoiceth not in iniquity,but rejoiceth in the Truth.' Oh, it is not a question of words; it is a question of robbing the children of God of their standing before Him. If Christ assures the believer he is clean every whit, and tells him to rejoice in the Father's love; if the divine word declares 'as he [the Lord Jesus] is, so are we in this world;' while a disciple who is listened to by thousands teaches that the prayers of saints need ' washing,' and that they themselves are not fit even to stand in the presence of Moses, shall we be silent?
We hope to take up the true meaning of 1 Cor. xiii., from which you have quoted, in our next. Respecting Rom. xiv. 13, We can only say that what is there taught applies to christian obseivances. We are not to bring one another into judgment about meats, and days, and such like ; this passage has, therefore nothing to do with heretical or perverse teaching, which wc are charged to judge and condemn.— Ed.]
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. J. H. B., Torquay—in ordering 13 copies each of Nos. 1 and 2, Precious Truth, happily says he orders them to circulate for the 'truth that is in them, not to aid a commercial speculation.' This is just what we desire. We have no wish to make a pecuniary gain out of Precious Truth. It is published at a loss, and is likely to be so for some time. We gladly make the sacrifice for tho Truth's sake, and in the hope of thePnper becoming self-supporting.
E., Islington.—Our correspondent in a letter inserted in our last, to which we refer our readers, asks us to harmonise those Scriptures which ' give power to become sons' to those who have already become children by faith in Christ. Our correspondent says 'Surely, sonship is not separable from simple life.' See Roan, viii. 14, John i. 12, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
Wo answer, the Scriptures referred to press upon us the rtelization of our Sonship note. All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are children of God by adoption and grace. It by no means follows, however, that tho adopted child acts in accordance with, or even understands his high calling. Tho Lord would have us to know practically, experimentally, while yet upon earth, the unspeakable joy of having a place in the 'household of faith,' of being 'sons and daughters of the I*ord Almighty.' That this may be ",onr hnppy experience, it is first necessary to lay hold of the power or privilege by faith ; for if we do not believe the fact it is impossible to act in the strength of it. Secondly, we must be led by the ' Spirit of adoption.' He is ever willing to load, but wo must voluntarily, and by sought-for grace, keep ourselves in subjection to bis guidance. Thirdly, if we would realise our standing as children of God, we must be 'separate from sinners.' 'Let every one that nameth the nanio of Christ depart from all iniquity.' This is a cutting word, and, alas! Christians generally refuse to submit to it. We cannot know God as our Father—wc cannot experience love towards Him, nor comprehend his love towards us, as children should, while we go on in intimate fellowship with those who are 'without God in the world.' The unholy fellowship may exist in the form of companionships, or deliberate union iu wedlock with an unbeliever, or it may exist in what is called 'public worship.' God cannot own us as his children in such unfaithfulness, 'for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness P and what concord hath Christ with Bolial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.'
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A Letter To The Christian Reader.
Beloved,— Once more our gracious Lord permits me to address to you a few words of exhortation and comfort. We are passing through the world; let us cheer each other by the way. "We are really strangers and pilgrims. Alas! many of our companions refuse to believe that theirs is a pilgrim's portion here below, and therefore they know nothing of the joy of being by faith already seated in tho heavenlies. Nevertheless it is true, that every regenerate child of God is no longer of the world though in it. Moreover, strive as they may, worldly-minded Christians cannot find true happiness upon earth. The new life, the regeneration, is resurrection-life! It isa new nature, foreign to earthly tastes and desires—quite as much, perhaps more so, than is the angelic nature. If an angel of light were sent to dwell with us in bodily form, he would be manifestly a stranger. If he were so directed of God, he might be a carpenter or a merchant, a servant or a monarch, but he would not be of the spirit of this world. He would just do whatever the Lord gave him to do, without losing the consciousness of his heavenly calling, and without seeking mere self-gratification or aggrandisement.
It is our high calling to livo thus upon earth. We are positively "children of light," '' children of God," "partakers of the divine nature "! Beloved, these are realities. The amazing things said of us in Scripture are Facts. Alas! Christians treat them as unrealisable fictions. But I assure you the Lord gives grace to those who seek him to enable them to live in the enjoyment of the same life he enjoys. Hence we are taught to reckon ourselves dead with regard to the old carnal nature. "Old things are passed away;" we are therefore to "set our AffecTions on things above." It is true, we go on with our appointed temporal duties, following our earthly occupations, whatever they may be, because our Heavenly Father has thus ordained. And we attend to them diligently and carefully, because we do them to the Lord. "Whether we eat or drink, or Whatever we do," we are to do all to the glory of God; and though we bo truly labouring for the meats that perish, God is glorified thereby if done to him in faith. Nor are we to have any anxiety about the result, knowing that " the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." We, thon, who are his children have no need to fear. Yet he may 6ee well to try our faith by leaving us under the pressure of temporal need; should it be so, however, it will be for our ultimate profit. Our duty is, to feel Quite
Sure that Our Heavenly Father cares about us always, that He loves us always; that He is interested in all our thoughts, wishes, and doings. How are we to be sure of this? He says so! Faith rejoins, "Then it Must be so." What, though it may be against the evidence of our senses ? Yes. The new nature owns no argument based on the mere evidence of the senses. One word of God fir outweighs all the tangible evidence in the world. Let us cultivate Faith. Let us maintain, in defiance of the sophistries of men, the subtleties of Satan, and the natural hesitancy of our own evil hearts, that "God is true," that we are his "dear children," and that "ho will withhold from us No Good Thing." Whatever he does withhold, it would not be good for us to have.
Dearly beloved in the Lord,—Look into his Word; you know comparatively nothing about the precious promises which are there, yet they are all for you; and a single promise from God our Father is worth all the treasures of earth. Oh! if faith were strong in us, how we should sing! We have abundant cause for rejoicing. "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice."
Yours in much love in our Lord Jesus Christ,
THE "PLYMOUTH BRETHREN."
About thirty years ago a few earnest Christians, having prayerfully studied the Scriptures, separated from all systematic religion. They found that while they had followed the various traditions which men had engrafted upon the Word of God, they had practically ignored some of the highest privileges conferred upon believers by the "Head of the Church."
One of the first things of which they became clearly convinced was that the Lord Jesus Chr.'st has sent, according to his promise, the Holy Ghost to guide his followers into all truth. Acting upon this conviction, they cast themselves, in simplicity and faith, upon the Holy Spirit's guidance, which resulted in unspeakable blessing to their own souls and to the oouls of thousands who had faith to follow in tho same course.
Those, however, who were first led out committed the great error of giving themselves a separate designation. This was not their only mistake, but it is the one which has become specially manifest. It is surprising that such a mistake could have crept in at the very outset, while realising the blessedness of being governed by the written Word, under the direct teaching of the Holy Spirit. But astonishment