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talk with one another of the dealings of God with their souls, and to retrace all the way that the Lord their God had led them, it would produce an union of spirit which nothing could dissolve. Oh! that we knew more of what ought to be the blessed effects of this union; that, on the one hand, God's ministers, instead of looking after, and magnifying the fruits of the flesh which they see and hear of in each other, would think more of the fruits of the Spirit in each other; and, on the other hand, be very jealous to avoid everything, even a single expression, which would be likely to give a brother offence, or cause any root of bitterness to spring up in his mind.
May God bless you, my dear Brother, in your labour of love and in your work, which, I believe, is no very enviable one. May he enable you to go on in the strength of the Lord, comforting his people, but avoiding all manner of controversy, which can only tend to arouse fleshly pride, and bring barrenness into the soul. I would, in conclusion, ask every child and minister of God this simple question, Did you ever get one grain of comfort in your souls, or feel the least unction in writing or speaking one word in any way against a member of the same family? I am, dear brother,
Yours, in the bonds of everlasting love,
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine.
Having observed in your Magazine, an inquiry as to the scriptural foundation for the oft-asserted doctrine of degrees of blessedness in glory, I beg to lay before you, in much humility, the following views :
I. The doctrine is based upon Arminianism. “To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt” (Rom. iv. 4); and, “ If it be of grace then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace.” (Rom. xi. 6).
II. Good works are for the glory of God in our time-state-". Wisdom is justified of all her children" (Luke, vii. 35); and for the benefit of the church of God in the wilderness~" My goodness extendeth not unto thee, but unto the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm, xvi. 2, 3).
'III. Infinities admit of no degrees; therefore, all God's family are loved alike, decretively in purpose, actually in time, and manifestively in glory. " Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me" (John, xvii. 23).
IV. Every truth of God, when revealed to the soul, is designed to comfort and edify the believer; but to grow in the confidence that we are earning a higher place in the kingdom above by our puny efforts or pharisaic mortifications, is clearly opposed to the apostolic injunction, “ Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter, iii. 18); and contradicts the Spirit's work in the believer, which leads us so esteem others better than ourselves.
Trusting that the admission of these few remarks may tend to godly-edifying, and not gender strifes, I remain, Sir, Yours, in the faith of Christ's Gospel,
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER,
Believing as I do that you are set for the defence of the Gospel of Christ, I consider yours a most solemn and arduous situation, in this God-despising day, wherein the great and precious realities of sovereign grace are totally denied by the major part of those who profess them, and who call themselves servants of the sanctuary. The disregard which thousands have to the word, and the trifling manner with which they treat and traffic with it, in order to ensnare and enslave the souls of their hearers under the various forms of zeal for God, and pretended good to the children of men, is a libel upon the name of Jehovah, whom they affect, in hypocrisy, to honour. These solemn facts of awful departures from the Gospel, cannot fail to be a source of grief to the sober-minded Christian. The church of the living God, whose situation is as a few sheep left in the midst of wolves, should keep together as much as possible, and duly pay attention to the present state of truth, either as it regards her immediate interest, or the manner in which her enemies treat it. The first promise given by electing love, fully confirms the solemn fact, as to what might ever be expected, connected with the declaration, “ And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (Gen. iii. 15). Yes, it must be so, until the consummation of the great marriage-supper of the Lamb, when old time shall again roll back into eternity, and the chosen and precious “ kingdom be delivered up into the hands of the Father, that God may be all in all.”
What a mercy it is, that from the time sin and all its direful effects took up its abode with men, the Gospel has been proclaimed to sinners; this Gospel has and shall be, in the Lord's order, especially directed by the Holy Ghost to every heir of the covenant; to them, and them only will it be made effectual; “ To you is it given to know the mystery of the kingdom, while to others only in parables ;" the beloved of God are led to embrace it, and to have communion with the Father and Son; nearness through him, we have access to the Father, and thus God has made us accepted in the beloved; he is the alone medium, the middle Person, the Mediator, and the Mercy-seat; God is revealed only in him, and in him well pleased, “ This is my beloved Son, hear ye him ;" this is our Days-man, the Man, God's fellow, the Son of man made strong for God's self; and when faith takes hold of his strength, then peace is proclaimed. But there are many obstacles laid before the feet of the dear children; therefore, every soul whom the blessed Spirit takes in hand is made to strive to enter in, for Christ is the door; if any man come in thereat, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture (John, X. 9); but often it is hard work to get Christ and conscience together. A broken law revealed in wrath, with avenging justice, as we think; an accusing devil; a carnal mind and all its enmity; a hard heart, and the cruel bar of unbelief; a stubborn will, a blinded mind, a self-righteous spirit, a legal view, a cloud of sins, a sea of trouble, guilt, and slavish fear, blushing with shame and filled with confusion; will make (I know by past and painful experience) hard work to pass through all this crowd, so as to touch the hem of his garment. These are, indeed, some of the things which make it extremely difficult; but when, in the Lord's time, this desire is accomplished, it is indeed sweet to the soul. Yes, sweet is the meeting, and the union is most precious, when the good Shepherd and the poor lost sheep-the perishing prodigal and the fatted calf—the dear Surety and the insolvent debtor—the lost soul and the perfect and complete Saviour-come together, then it is Gospel indeed; the music, the ring, the kiss, the joy, the peace, the love ; then does the soul keep holyday, sweet jubilee, the captive's release, all is glorious and gracious to behold
“ 'Tis past all describing below."
This, more or less, must follow the new-birth, though the days afterwards inay be dark and many. The Lord has ordained the match, and come to the wedding all the dear Jewels must; though often it is Satan forbids the banns. Christ draws, and the devil pulls back; and here many often halt and are in a strait between two. And I am sure every gift, and every joy, and every branch of profession, must decay and wither, unless the union takes place; the branch cannot bear fruit of itself; pothing can subsist or stand alone; and this truth the Lord teaches the poor labouring soul, and the believer finds it true all the way through the desert and dreary wilderness. Angels could not, Adam could not, Judas could not, and woe to him that is alone when he falleth ; but the Gospel, applied by faith, shows how good it is for two to walk together, so that when one falls, his brother shall lift him up. This is the case with every poor trembling sinner, who hath the promise of eternal life given him, through the Seed of the woman; and must be so, because it is a covenant engagement to all the heirs. Poor Peter was lifted up when he tumbled ; David shared in the same rich favour; and every poor, backsliding, wandering sheep, shall find Jesus will never forget his word. Oh! that we may aim at union-love-and covet submission to the divine will; for two cannot walk together except they be agreed. God walks with us in peace and love; He knows no change in his dear Son; he is our shield in the day of battle. If we stray over the boundary, trouble and sorrow, darkness and pain, will be the consequence. May the dear twos and threes of God's family that are scattered abroad, be kept from joining the idolatrous tribes of professors, which, to a mind taught aright to see the abominations in the land, is truly alarming. Oh ! how painful to behold the lukewarm state of many; the departures from the good old ways; the rapid advance of Popery and Infidelity, with a flood of other evils in false doctrines; the party, formal stiffness of sectarians, dividing off in great numbers, denying the power and scoffing at experimental religion, dead to every spiritual im. pulse, explaining away the first great moving cause of divine teaching, and fixing their future hope of bliss in the free-will powers of enlightened reason; and they call this Gospel, and boast of religion spreading in the land! Alas! for such awful delusion; the devil has a better faith.
The Lord tries his people to the quick, and dries up their natural moisture till their strength is clean gone; by which they prove" all their springs are in hinn;" and he being their “ever-green bay tree, from whom is their fruit found." What a blessed finding! Thomas might well exclaim, “ My Lord and my God!" Philip saith, “ We have found the Messiah." Ah! dear Saviour, many are seeking thee sorrowing; yea, and so weak is the faith of thy beloved family sometimes, that they can hardly discover a single glimpse of thy sacred countenance. But the remembrance of thy name is sweet; and “to whom can we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” The Lord establish these precious truths more upon us, and daily give us fresh encouragement to approach unto him for wisdom to direct us, and for fresh discoveries of his unchanging and unabating love to our souls ; that we may rest more upon the stability of the covenant, knowing the fulness of his Godhead-power when
every stream appears to be dried up, and we have no power to lift up our hearts " before him.
I have been led to these rambling thoughts this morning, which, I trust, have been blessed to my own soul, in deep humility before the God of Zion. If you choose to give them publicity through your Gospel journal, they are at your command; the only desire of my heart is, that they may be of some use to some poor bruised reed and smoking flax, whose bush keeps hurning yet not consumed.
Theirs and yours, in undying Christian esteem,
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. DEAR SIR,
It is with reluctance that I take up my pen to address you ; but feeling an impolse which I cannot resist, I think perhaps the Lord may bless what I may be enabled to write. I can appeal to him as the Searcher of hearts, I have no object in writing but endeavouring to have a proper understanding of God's truth, and how the Lord is to be honoured by his people through his truth. The subject I refer to is, that stated in the Number of the Gospel MAGAZINE, page 250, signed W. H. I, Sir, do confess I am among the number that think there is a deficiency, not in this Magazine only, but others of the like sort that advocate a full, and free, and complete salvation to all God's elect, as also in the ministry of many good men; and, if I mistake not, this is a proof that it is night with the church of Christ. I allude to the almost entire absence of the exhortatory part of God's word addressed to his own believing people. We keep complaining and lamenting the state the church is in, its bickerings and strife; but who is there asking the cause of it? but few. Surely, “God is not the author of confusion," and strife, and evil-speaking and doing : no; this earthly, wicked feeling comes from Satan and our evil hearts. The fact is, there is a lustful, worldly disposition at work among the saints ; “ the flesh lusting against the Spirit;" and the saints want "peace, peace" to be constantly cried unto them; and few can bear to have their corruptions preached against, and fewer still to hear of “cutting off right hands and plucking out right eyes."
Dear Sir, excuse me, but I cannot see with you in the answer you have given to W. H.'s piece, and you say to all such inquiries, “If a sense of the love of God shed abroad in the heart will not bring forth the fruits of good living, we know not what will." I answer, certainly it will, necessarily; but, alas ! we are not always living under this divine impulse ; and if the Christian is not to live holily and godly only while this is the case, it will be but seldom. The truth of a believer being possessed of two natures, is too much lost sight of, and that they are always under the influence of one or the other; and that a believer is not represented in the word as an unconcious being, is evident. He is addressed as a living man; enlisted in the service of Jesus, his deliverer ; exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith;" to stand, and having done all, to stand; to put off the old man with his deeds, to put on the new man; to yield their meinbers to God; to present their bodies (which are not their own but the Lord's) a living sacrifice to the Lord: with a thousand of such exhortations. On what ground are these exhortations, and warnings, and cautions to believers withheld in our day? Some say they are legal; others, that they are inconsistent with the freeness of God's grace; others, that God does not drive his people but draws them. But, alas ! where is the evidence of this drawing ? “ What means this bleating of the sheep and lowing of the oxen," if the will of the Lord be done? I most solemnly believe the fault rests in a measure with the preachers and writers of the present day; they are “partial” in God's word (see Mal. ii. 6-9; and Isa. iii. 12); “They that lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Surely the Lord is the best judge of that mode of address, and that instruction that is best suited to his family; but because many preachers are calling on the dead in sin to perform spiritual acts, the preachers of the Gospel are determined to go to the other extreme, and are constantly setting forth the inability of the saints, forgetting that saints are united to a living head and are told God's grace is sufficient for them; that though helpless in themselves, they “ can do all things (the Lord has commanded them through Christ that strengthens them." I think the ministers of Christ should be telling God's people what they can do not for salvation, but to live in the enjoyment of it, and evidence they are the Lord's), and not what they cannot do; the devil is always preaching this to them; and their own unbe. lieving hearts and carnal uatures listen to it; and sin is strengthened and not mortified.
I fear, Sir, the church is not only in a wilderness, but in a dreadful spiritual one; hundreds of sermons are preached, and not one exhortation ever given to the people of God relative to their duty, either to God the Father (1 Thess. iv. 1), « How ye ought to walk and please God;" the Son, “ Neither let us tempt Christ, as they also tempted him” (1 Cor. x. 9); or the Spirit, “ And grieve not the Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption " (Eph. iv. 30); nor to any church or relative duties. But a new phraseology is adopted called "privilege,” conveying the idea that we may or may not; and again, “ May the Lord enable you to this or that." Now this may be proper when addressing the Lord for each other, but not in addressing his people ; for Satan suggests, “ The Lord don't enable you, therefore you are not required to this or that." I again ask, Are we wiser than the apostles ? or are the people of God not needing those rebukes, reproofs, and exhortations now as in former days? “ As many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
I hope, Sir, you will alter your mind, or rather the Lord will alter it. You state in answer to “A Tempest-tossed Vessel," that seeing there is so little union among the people of God, you will stand aloof from mingling with them. Oh, Sir! is not this to act the part of a coward ? What would be thought of a general, seeing the soldiers disunited, abandoning them ? This is like the advice a preacher lately gave a friend of inine, that as there was such a want of love among the churches, to join pone; and yet he called himself a servant of Christ. I hope, Sir, you will endeavour to find out the cause of so much disunion; and, as an instrument in God's hands, “ stand in the breach," “ make up the gap," be “a restorer of the paths," " the good old paths," that God's people may walk therein, and dwell therein. I am as great an advocate for the work of the Spirit to begin and carry on the work of grace in the sinner's heart as you are; but I feel persuaded, after thirty years experience of divine things, there is a great deal of error propagated on this subject. You, Sir, say, “I want, for myself and others, to live under divine influence, and enjoy the union that exists between my soul and Christ;" if you have it not, Sir, will you charge the Lord with the fault, or, as most do, put it down to divine sovereignty? Is there no truth in these portions, “ Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone;' “ Ye have not because ye ask pot;' “ If they walk contrary to me, I will walk contrary to them;" “Ye adulterers, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God ;' “ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you in due time.” From my own experience I can say, my greatest darkness of soul and dreadful thoughts of God, questioning his truth, the rising of corruption, &c., such as you have referred to in your leading piece, have generally followed a secret departing from God in my heart; a neglect of perusing his word ; formality in prayer, &c.; and I believe they are sent of God, or permitted, as punishment for my folly. Still, I believe I cannot quicken my own soul, nor revive bis work therein ; but I know God can. But I do not expect it apart from those means and ordinances he has appointed; which, if I am not mistaken, many of his people do. The first work of God in a sinner's heart, is sovereign and mysterious, and not more so the carrying it on; I myself believe the sioner is passive in regeneration, but not exactly so. After having experienced a change we are said to be alive, and are addressed as such; having a new heart, enlightened mind, purified conscience, &c.; we are exhorted to watch unto prayer, and the movements of our minds; to “make straight paths for our feet;" to give up ourselves to God, in contradistinction to our former service to Satan, self, and the flesh.