« EdellinenJatka »
and soul-reviving doctrines of distinguishing grace; and yet I well know that there are just as many of us as Jehovah requires. Wherever the great God has work to be done, there he will have a labourer. Oh! what a peculiar privilege it is to have been taught Jehovah's sovereignty; that he orders all things after the counsel of his own will.
But to return to the passage of Scripture to which I have alluded. See, my brother, how Paul, as the penman of the Holy Spirit, sets forth the great privilege of being “ put in trust with the Gospel ;" his expression is, “ as we were allowed of God;" and wherever and on whomsoever that privilege is bestowed, there is the POWER given to preach the Gospel; for Paul adds, “even so we, speak.” Then follows the character of his preaching, “not as pleasing men, but God.” And oh! what a blessed influence was upon Paul's mind, for he knew it to be a heart-service, inasmuch as the Master whom he served was that God " which trieth the hearts."
Thus, then, the commission to preach the Gospel can alone come from God. It is he who puts us in trust with his word; and what a heart-stirring command is that to the pastors of the churches in 2 Tim. iv. 1–5; and he who sends us forth in trust with the Gospel, gives us power and ability to speak; “even so we speak.” Oh! how often on a Lord's day morning do I say, “ Ah! Lord God, I cannot speak for I am a child;" groaning for a text,* and crying out of the deep for help; and often do I go up into the pulpit wretched and blind, shut up and miserable, when life and liberty are granted to me just at the needed moment, and the word goes forth with its glad and joyful tidings; and I can trace in the very countenances of the poor of the flock, that they know the joyful sound, and seem to say, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth."
And now what is the Gospel with which the sent minister is entrusted ? It is even that which the herald angel proclaimed to the shepherds of old, as recorded in Luke ii. 10, 11, “ Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” It is the proclamation of free-grace pardon and mercy to the vilest sinners; it is a declaration of that sweet word in Ephesians, i. 4. It is this : that by absolute predestination, by personal and individual election, the church, as one body, and in each and every one of its members, is saved in Christ; that the everlasting Father has elected his people; that the coequal, coeternal Son died to redeem all the chosen ones; and that the Holy Ghost regenerates all and each of these so chosen, by his irresistible power, at the set time of favour. Thus, unless a sinner has been elected, unless a sinner has been redeemed, unless a sinner is regenerated, he cannot be saved (John, iii. 3; John, vi. 7 ; Rom. viii. 30).
Such is the Gospel! and, blessed be God, it brings with it its own heavenborn liberty " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" a libertynot to continue in sin, oh no!-but a liberty which brings with it a desire after God, and to keep his commandments. The hue and cry against us from pharisees, scribes, and priests is, “ He is a dangerous Antinomian !” “He is an abominable Calvinist.” Oh! how little do such people know of the real thing! My continual cry is, Oh that I could live Calvinism as well as preach it!
* Ministers that are kept upon short allowance themselves, best know how to prize the bread and the water of life when a fresh crumb and another drop of it are bestowed; they catch at the provision eagerly, and with a warm heart, and a soul overflowing with love, deal out to the hungry and thirsty of the Lord's family, what the Lord in this timely way deals out to them. Thus it comes with the demonstration of the Holy Ghost and with power.--Ed.
“ The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.” It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ wbich brings peace into the soul; and when the law has wounded and killed the signer, and “broken him to pieces” (Job, xvi. 12), then the life-giving, soul-healing, stream of the Gospel flows in upon the soul, and the blood of Jesus Christ washes it clean. Then scarlet sins become white as snow, and crimson iniquities are as wool (Isa. i. 18).
“ All-sufficient is our Jesus,
Though our sins are black as hell;
He on Calv'ry
Cancell'd all his people's sin.” It is thus, my brother, that the ministers of Christ must preach that Gospel with which we are put in trust; and as the Lord gives us power, “ even so we speak; not as pleasing men, bat God, which trieth our hearts."
Oh! that this word may be indellibly stamped upon my heart, and on the hearts of all God's dear servants. May we be kept from the deadly system of these last days of man-pleasing, creature-coaxing, soul-poisoning preaching ; but, being made faithful and kept faithful, may we declare the whole counsel of God, and be delivered from that wretched " fear of man which bringeth a spare," and leanness into the soul. I am here reminded of what Toplady (I think it is) has said on this subject : “ Such as suppress and keep back any part of Christian doctrine, either through fear of men, or to curry the favour of men, and consult their own ease, advancement, or reputations, at the cost of truth and of souls, have a tremendons valley of pain and horror to pass through ere they reach the kingdom of heaven; if saved at all it will be as by fire, i.e. in a way of anguish and difficulty. The blood of souls stains deep. Well, therefore, might the apostle declare (1 Cor. ix. 16), · Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.'” Thrice happy are they who can add with him Acts. xx. 24–27.
Oh! what a distinguishing mercy it is to be delivered from this man-pleasing system, and to have boldness given to declare the truth. That is a soul-stirring word to an honest minister, in Gal. i. 10, “ Or do I seek to please men ? for if I get pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” A minister of Christ must be independent of men, of all men ; he must neither court their smiles nor fear their frowns. And he has no need to fear; look at the first chapter of Jeremiah, the last verse especially, “ And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.”
What a bulwark that is for us! and it is quite true what some one has said, “ Every faithful minister is inmortal until his work is done.” What a sweet thought! and if this meet the eye of any of your readers who are ioinisters, may it cheer, and soothe, and encourage thein May the God of all grace make us faithful in preaching, and our hearers faithful in hearing; delivering us from the id an-pleasing system, and them from itching ears. It has been aptly said, “ l'hose preachers have infinite reason to tremble, who, though admired by the great and caressed by the vain, are deserted by the poor, the sorrowful, such as walk humbly with their God.' "* Thank God, I can say with truth, that the contrary to this is my case; for it is my high privilege and distinguishing happiness to minister the Gospel to the poor and needs, who
* Reader, this is a remark well worthy your serious consideration. Remember the Saviour's own words, “ The poor have the Gospel preached to them.”—ED.
are made willing to come many, many miles on the Lord's day for the bread of life, and whom I may describe as knowing something of that Scripture, Psalm xxxix. 15, 16; see also 1 Cor. i. 26-29.
A man-pleasing system will not do. It is treason against our King. We must know nothing of compromise, nothing of keeping back the truth. We must preach the Gospel, “ whether men will hear or whether they will forbear,” and leave the result to God. T'he precious must be taken from the vile ; a line must be drawn between the possessor and the professor; and a free-grace salvation in the blood and righteousness of Jesus, must be the sum and substance of our preaching. As I heard my dear brother and fellow-labourer Mr. Wallinger say, “Ă man must, under a faithful ministry, either leave his sins or his seat." Oh! what a great truth is embodied in these few words; it is only broken hearts, mourning spirits, and tempted, devil-hunted souls that can hear the Gospel (Isa. lv. l; Matt. xi. 28). Jesus, and the preaching about Jesus, is sweet and precious to such (1 Péter, ii. 7), and he is the Bread of Life to their souls.
Thus, then, wherever Jehovah sets one of his own ministers “ for the defence of the Gospel," there his word will be declared as is pleasing to him; and this for the display of his own glory, and the bringing out of his own people, even the elect, from the reprobate. And “who is sufficient for these things?” I answer, the very feeblest instrument by whom and in whom the eternal, the almighty God is pleased to work. See Isaiah, lv. 11; 2 Cor. ii. 14-16; and 2 Cor. jii. 4–6. I like to prove everything by the word of God; “ To the law and to the testimony," &c.; “ Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. iii. 4).
And the apostle adds, “ which trieth our hearts,' even a heart-searching, a heart-seeing God. In the Greek, that word “trieth,” has great power and meaning; it has the signification of, to prove by trial, as silver and gold is tried; and every minister really alive to his work and office will catch the full meaning of this. Oh, what immense need of help from above has the “ ambassador for Christ!” what constant trials! what difficulties ! what disappointments! each and all peculiar to the ministry, and separate from his own soul trials. But some one has said, “ Trials inake the minister.” That man cannot show any satisfactory credentials who does not stand up before the people with, “ Come here, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”+ Oh, yes! he must have been in the furnace (where, at one time or other, all God's elect are), or he will not be able to minister to tried, and tempted, devil-hunted souls.
It has often cheered, while it has deeply humbled me, when ministering the word in the congregation, that I was doing so under the eye and in the hearing of the eternal Three-in-One-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Oh, what a thought ! yea, what a reality! Surely wherever this is felt the man-pleasing system cannot be carried on. I must here give you an idea of dear Toplady's: "I question whether there be an individual minister upon earth, who declares the whole counsel of God with power and with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, but listening angels are a part of his auditory, and sometimes reap
* While it warmed our hearts, on a very recent occasion, to see many poor souls assembling at Winchelsea from distant places, varying from five to fifteen miles, it pained us exceedingly to see closed doors. “No preaching to day, sir ; Mr. West is ill," was the frequent salutation, with a sorrowful countenance.-ED.
+ This brings him to such a blessed point of establishment, that he fears neither the contradiction of men or devils. Without an experimental acquaintance with the truth he delivers, he is tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea; nor can any make out what he really is.-ED.
instruction from the lips of a mortal man.” What a sweet, what a blessed thought!
But how I have been running on. Oh! when oue is favoured with a view of Christ and the great things of his kingdom, how hard it is to stop. May the Lord bless what I have written; may he acknowledge it for his own glory. It is but a little while, and we shall be gone; “A little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” A little while, and then the prophetic vision will be realized_“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision ; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision ” (Joel, iii. 14). Ob, what decision there will be then!“ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Let me ask your readers, dear brother, one by one, Are you prepared ? are you pardoned ? are you in Christ? (Rom. viii. 1). Oh, what a reality it is to die! and to know for ourselves individually and personally whether we are sayed in Jesus or to be damned with the world.
“How stands the case, my soul, with thee?
For heaven are thy credentials clear?
Is he, thy great Forerunner, there?
To seek salvation in his name?
All cent'ring in the worthy Lamb.” Sweet, searching words are these, dear brother. And now I must bring this to a conclusion. Bear me up before the throne, and ask Him who moves amidst the seven golden candlesticks to remember my need, my ministerial need especially. It is blessed at times to be allowed to pray; oh, what will it be, when prayer is turned to praise ; even when such sinners as you and I are, through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, glorified (Rev. xiv. 1-5)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you and all the election of grace. So prays Your affectionate brother in the Head of the saved remnant,
J. J. West, Chief of Sinners.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. Dear Sir,
In compliance with the wish of some friends, I send you the reply of a letter written to a friend now with Christ, and delivered from the assaults of the devil. Some of the Plymouth Brethren were unceasing in their endeavours to gain her over to their party, and as it was under my ministry she was called out of darkness into light, she wrote to me for advice, and my answer was directed more especially to those points on which she wrote to me. Arrangement was not studied in it, for I wrote as the thoughts came; such parts only are omitted as refer to private individuals.
The first thing which convinced me that the Plymouth Brethren, as a party, were decidedly wrong, was, their great endeavours to gain proselytes, not so much from the open world, as from other bodies of Christians. This was so much the case in one place, that one of their leaders uniformly said to all persons who would not join them, although they might acknowledge such to be partakers of the truth, “ Pray to God to show you your error.” What I conceive would have been more in accordance with the spirit of love would have been, “ Pray to God to show you, if you are in error, that you are so." Certainly
our belonging to this or that party is of minor importance; the one thing is, Do we belong to Christ ? are we led by the Spirit ? if so, it is comparatively trifling what dress we wear. Since writing the following letter, one of their newest absurdities has been made known to me; it is to this effect-" It is wrong to pray to the Spirit; for if we pray, it is not we but the Spirit in us, and therefore it is the Spirit praying to the Spirit.” Really such logic will not do for a child of God, who finds prayer to the Holy Ghost in various parts of the Scriptures. For instance, Isa. vi.,“ Holy, holy, holy, Lurd God of hosts.” Again, 2 Thess, iii., “The Lord (the Spirit) direct your hearts into the love of God, and patience of Christ."
I am, indeed, free to own, that there are many of the Lord's children among them, some of whom have joined them because they find a great dearth of the truth elsewhere, and some of them certainly preach some precious truths; others who have also imbibed their absurdities, are wretched for a season, and will, no doubt, in time be delivered. At the same time they are certainly not without hypocrites, and many emissaries of the devil, who, with sleight and cunning craftiness, lie in wait to deceive. It is false charity to speak in milder terms than these, and we would desire to snatch some from the fire, and to warn others to tread in the old paths; that they be no more children, tossed to and fro (see Ephes. iv.). Great novelties, with sweeping condemnation of those saints who have preceded us, are certainly to be avoided. In conclusion, I would commend you, and your readers who love the one truth, to God, and to the word of his grace, and subscribe myself, in the love of the truth,
Yours, most faithfully,
J. W. GOWRING. My DEAR * *
I have hoped, for some days past, to answer your last kind letter, but have been prevented by a multitude of engagements, &c. With reference to the Plymouth Brethren, there is much among them that I approve of, at the same time, there are those strange doctrines held by them, that I feel no difficulty in strongly advising any one who asks my opinion, not to join them, and to be especially on their guard as to what they hear. There are, however, among them, many that I have no doubt are manifested as children of God.
The first thing that made me doubt of the Plymouth Brethren, was, their proselyting system ; they do not seem to acknowledge that there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord (see 1 Cor. xii.) ; but they set forth, like the Puseyites, that there is but one administration, and that is their own; for, whatever your views may be, if you do not join their body, then you are wrong; and thus they condemn all the saints for generations past who have not been led to take their peculiar views as to the ministry, &c. The bands of union that especially mark the true church, are set forth in Ephes. iv.-viz. “ One body, one Spirit, one hope of calling, one faith, one Lord Jesus, one baptism, and one God and Father of all.” Now, I conceive that this sevenfold band of union can consist with difference of opinion as to the use of forms of prayer or not, or as to discipline in church government. No doubt there are many imperfections in the practical working of our church, but perfection is never to be expected here ; even the law of God, which, in itself, is boly, just, and good, is weak through the flesh, much more will it be so with institutions framed by men. Most of our prayers are Scripture turned into prayer, and therefore always applicable to the children ; not but what there are times, I think, that extempore prayer might be advantageously used. But a form cannot be essentially wrong, when our Saviour himself left us one ; and we can have no doubt that many of the prayers offered up by our Saviour when on earth, were written down hundreds of years before in the Psalms. I know of very few objections that are made to forms of prayer for public worship, that might not also apply to extempore public prayers. The scriptural character of our prayers seems to ensure a portion to each of the Lord's people according to their various peculiar need. The private meetings of the Brethren, I think are, in many respects, worthy of imitation; but we should be on our watch that jealousies do not arise. Certainly Christians ought not to forsake the assem