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world. At first the lady monopolized the conversation, as though the meeting was convened for her to hear herself speak. After telling us that a minister had spent the afternoon and taken tea with her, she lifted up her hands, and said, “Oh, what a holy man that is! Oh that I was as holy as he! But, there, I must do a great deal more for God before I can be as holy as he is.” The company responded with, “Ah, not only you, but we all must.” In the simplicity of my heart's feelings I looked upon the lady and said, “I suppose, madam, you mean, not that you must do more for God before you can be as holy as that gentlemen, but that God must do a great deal more for you ?" The question operated upon the company like an electric shock. After pausing and looking upon each other for a few moments, a general murmur of disapprobation was heard, and I was looked upon by the company as a capricious young man. The Lord knows I was innocent of what they charged me with. I did not know that the lady spoke from principle. I thought she had inadvertently misstated her meaning, saying she must do for the Lord, while she meant that the Lord must do it for her. When the company dispersed, I heard them reinvited to meet one evening in the following week, but I was not invited, neither then nor ever afterwards.
This perplexed me much, and caused me great searching of heart, to ascertain the reason why I should be so slighted. But in due time the mystery was unfolded to me. The special lessons which I had been taught, and the Lord was then teaching me, and the conversation savouring of that special teaching clashing with their general notions, caused a jar in their feelings. This prompted them to shun rather than seek my company, only as they sought it to dispute and quarrel with me, which some seemed to take delight in doing; and this many times wounded me. I was often cautioned and blamed by some of the old members for being too curious and inquisitive. Indeed, for asking a question one evening, I had such a lashing I have not forgotten to the present day, and it was on this wise. Being, one evening, with other friends, in company with a very popular preacher, who related to us many strange, and some of them almost incredulous, anecdotes, as a favour, I asked him if he would tell me the meaning of a portion in the Bible. He did not say he would
is the portion you want explained ?" I said, “ Prov. xxvii. 14: 'He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.'” The moment I had finished the quotation, he looked upon me appearing to be filled with displeasure, and began to call me by all the opprobrious names he could invent or muster from a vocabulary that I was unacquainted with, winding up his wordy infliction with, “ You are a proud, prying, presumptuous, dangerous youth ; you have no business to meddle with such questions." He then left the house. When my reprover, or reproacher, had departed, I was left to the cuffs and rebukes of my companions, and, in defending myself, I made matters worse, because I said, “This is a new way for a man, by abuse, to worm himself through and out of a difficulty. The fact is, the man does not know the meaning of that portion any more than I, and, rather than make that acknowledgment, he chose to bespatter me with abusive epithets."
After living with the aunt of my employer for a considerable time, he said to me, "Thomas, my house is large, and you can, if you choose, have apartments there. This will be better for you, because you will be near the factory.” Here I was introduced to an old local preacher, who
had opened a room for a Sunday-school and preaching. With this man I became united, by appointment, in school teaching and local preaching round London. One evening I went with my companion to Cripplegate to hear him preach. While he was preaching, I sat behind him in the pulpit. His text was, “Seek the Lord, and ye shall live.” He divided the text into three parts. The people present were to seek the Lordfirst, by repentance; secondly, by prayer; and, thirdly, by faith. I sat listening, musing and wondering. “Oh," thought I, “why, this man is preaching salvation by works; but the Holy Ghost hath said, “Not of works.' The preacher had a powerful voice, and he poured out sentence after sentence; but there was a more powerful voice within me, contradicting and condemning all he said, and as often as he said it, with, “ Not of works. Not of works. Not of works." Oh, how empty did all I had heard that night appear to me; but what a majesty I saw in the words, “By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
I continued in connexion with this man, preaching when and where I was appointed, for some time, but I was ill at ease. The conversation and preaching of my colleague was to me unsavory. There was so much of that great I. The number of sermons he had preached in one day. The distance his voice had been distinctly heard when preaching, and he certainly had lungs of no common order, and he exerted them to the utmost, especially when in prayer, which has made me say to him, “Why, Mr. I., it would appear that your God lives at a great distance. and you must be afraid He will not hear you, unless you speak loud enough almost to split one's ears."
In my employer's house there was a large lumber-room, through which one might pass to the top of the house, the roof of which was flat. Here I was in habit of retreating evenings, while the lumber-room was my day retreat. One evening I went to the house-top very miserable, but when I was there I could do nothing but sigh and groan. I tarried there a long time, but all in vain; for instead of my stupid hardness being removed, it increased upon me. I then descended into the dark lumberroom. After I had been in the room a few minutes, I thought I heard a voice say, “Bow thy knees before God.” Filled with shame, I did bow the knee, saying, “Here I am, Lord, a poor guilty sinner. Damned or saved, I throw myself upon Thy mercy." While upon my knees, I had a vision of Jesus upon a cross, with arms extended, the blood flowing from His hands, feet, and side. He appeared to look down upon me with pity, that pierced my very soul, and the words, which I distinctly heard spoken by Him, were, " Sinner, I suffered this for thee." The old lumber-room appeared to be filled with a blaze of light. I could then feelingly sing
“ Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
That wonders to feel its own hardness depart:
I continued a considerable time gazing upon the pierced one, weeping and filled with wonder at the amazing change that had passed in and over all the powers of my soul—from darkness to like—from weariness to rest-from hardness to meltings—from fetters to freedom-from tormenting fears and shyness to nearness and boldness. At this time I thought I was made to know the glorious meaning of, “ Ye who sometime were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
In those days, I was prone to lay great stress upon this vision, and often vaunted, by referring to it in conversation. Some of the members to whom I had related the matter, looked upon me as a person highly favoured, and others envied me. But, whatever stress I might, in those days, have laid upon that vision, I dare not do so now. “ The heart is deceitful above all things ;” and, if the Lord gives Satan a licence, I am very confident that he can represent to the imagination various things to carry out his designs of holding men in love with and admiration of themselves.
In the professing world, Satan works upon and in the fancy, to a much greater extent than some are willing to admit, and, by using religious subjects in his magical representations, he can the more effectually hide himself from being detected as the deceiver.
I have many times proved that Satan, of all the creatures God has created, is the most skilful painter that existeth. And the tables upon which this malicious and mystical painter draw his images, are the imaginary powers of the soul. Here he lays on his colours according to the dispositions of men, for he is very cunning, and of great experience in his work. Oh, yes, Satan feels how the pulse beats, and then strikes in with the tide, lifts up his sails to catch the winds of circumstances, in order to carry on, and out, his hellish designs.
“Oh,” I have thought, “ am I Satan's peaceable habitation, sure dwellings, and quiet resting-places, above the creature's power? And do they not free the soul from those tormenting suspicions that I am overrun with ?”
(To be continued.)
THE OPENING Y E AR.
Bless, O Lord, the opening year.” DEARLY BELOVED, —Another milestone on the journey of life has been reached, another year has been brought to an end, "like a tale that is told,” and we are standing on the verge of one of those divisions of time, on which those who are spared so long may look back with adoring gratitude, and say, “In that year I received such and such blessings at the hands of the Lord.” Preservation, deliverance, succour, support in time of need, are constantly vouchsafed to us from God; but there are days and times in which they are manifested more conspicuously, as great light in a season of darkness, health from sickness, and life from the shadow of death.
As in the closing year we could record the faithfulness of our covenant God, in the opening year, and throughout its weeks and months, we shall have to trust His word, to plead His promises, and shall doubtless realize what He is to us, in the fulness of His grace, and the riches of His forbearance.
For myself I can again endorse what I wrote more than twenty years since. These are some of the blessings with which God hath blessed His unworthy servant: health and strength of body, food and raiment in abundance, for all my offspring, pardon, peace, and confidence in His mercy; restoration when I have wandered (and oh, how frequently has this been!); answers to prayer when I have cried to Him, and all spiritual blessings; an increased number of dear devoted Christian friends, who love me in the Lord and for the Lord's sake. He has blessed His word
from my lips to the comforting of saints, the “conversion of sinners and the edification of His people generally.” Let us, then, beloved, seek each one to say, in the language of the poet :
“ Kind Author and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow,
And own Thou hast helped me till now.” And shall we not, dear fellow-pilgrims, encouraged by such remembrance, “thank God, and take courage ?" Does any one say, “ Yes, this is what I earnestly desire, and would do but for the continued vileness that I feel to be in my heart ?” You see no improvement within, you think not one of God's servants can tell what such a heart as yours is; you feel that where God has been lavishing mercies you have “only made returns of sin."
Now I am persuaded that, if we were permitted to see what God sees of the workings of sin in the fleshly hearts of our brethren, true believers, where the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit against the flesh, we should stand aghast. Yet so it is, sin dwelleth in us; sin striveth for the mastery; sin overpowereth, breaketh down every barrier, and in some shape, form, fashion, or character, secretly or openly, frequently prevails: vet-blessed be God for it!-a believer in Jesus can never sin without consciousness ; he does not fall into sin without conflict, nor without remorse, nor without repentance ; but why not? Because the Lord loves him, and nothing can change His love ; Jesus hath purchased him, and He
shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied ;" because the Holy Ghost dwells in him, and will never leave him, because the holy seed which is in him hateth sin, and he must come again to the mercy-seat. So now, tried and tempted brother or sister, “look again" at your blessings, “ look again" at your mercies, " look again” at the covenant character of your gracious God; and, while acknowledging your vileness, remember the blood of sprinkling, how it speaks, what it says—forgiveness of sins and “ grace to help in time of need."
These reflections will enable you to enter on the New Year with a degree of confidence, under the power of the Holy Ghost, in the faithfulness and unchangeableness of our covenant God, which shall ensure in your souls a growth in grace, and produce much glory to “ Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.”
We must not, dear friends, ignore the state in which the Church and the nation is at this time placed ; but all that is distressing to us as Protestants, grievous to us as citizens, and terrifying to us as men, must tend to drive us more closely to Him who “stayeth the raging of the waves, and the madness of the people,” who “sitteth above the waterfloods, and abideth a King for ever." Should I conclude without a word relative to the heavy trial under which our beloved brother the Editor enters on this New Year, I might be considered void of sympathy; but I have expressed my deep sympathy with him in private letters. I have brought his case under our heavenly Father's notice at the throne of grace, and shall not cease to do so. I know much is expected on such occasions from men in his position, and he knows that there is in our beloved Saviour an all-sufficency of help for him. Who among us will forget or neglect to pray that he may be so blessed of Jesus, that he may be enabled to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me?”
I am, ever your faithful brother in the everlasting Gospel, Astley Vicarage, near Manchester.
ALFRED HEWLETT, D.D.
A PASTORAL WORD TO THE LOVED CONGREGATION OF
ST. LUKE'S, BEDMINSTER. MY VERY DEAR BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,—This is the seventh Sunday since it was my privilege to minister to you. The being laid aside from the blessed ordinances of the sanctuary is one of the things of which for many years I have had the greatest possible dread; and, during my recent illness, I have virtually told the Lord, that, under His strengthening hand, I should be ready to bear anything He saw fit to lay upon me, provided He were but pleased to restore me to my loved pulpit, and to the sweet privilege of once again speaking to you, from that pulpit, face to face. Yea, it has gone so far between the Lord and my soul, that, when I have felt Him as it were asking me whether He should at once take me home to His own eternal glory, or continue me yet for a season to minister in His great and ever-adorable name, I have chosen the latter. I have said, in my heart, “Lord, delay the glory, in order that I may, in my poor feeble way, yet for a little declare Thy truth.”
It would seem, dear people, that the Lord has, in very deed, taken me at my word.
I am spared, and restored in great measure to health. My loved one is taken. Oh, how little did I imagine in what way the Lord was about to answer me. It has been by “terrible things in righteousness" indeed. Yet I believe all has been done in infinite wisdom, as well as in boundless love ; and one of the many precious Scriptures upon which my mind has been stayed is Heb. xii. 11: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” The “present” is with us, the “afterward” we have to wait for. But then, with respect to that waiting, the Lord has graciously given me another sweet portion during my recent agonizing exercises, namely, Habakkuk ii. 1.-3:“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie : though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” And that likewise was followed with chapter iii. 17, 18: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Oh, beloved, what a stay is the word of God, when applied by the Holy Ghost, in times of trouble and anguish ! " Who teacheth like Him?” And what words are like the Lord's words ? So weighty—80 suitable—so precious! But, ah, depend on it we must be brought into the depths in order to realize this, in all its fulness, blessedness, and power. .
But now, as I am at present unequal to much effort in a way of writing, I would with respect to the affliction wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me, ask, “Is there not a cause?” I would seek to answer that inquiry, first, with respect to myself; and then in regard to you, my beloved people.