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ANOTHER Preface! What, twelve months more gone? Yes! A year nearer home! And, moreover, not one of its trials, nor temptations, nor troubles, to be met again! Each and every one done with for ever! Gone as though they had never come. And we, beloved, not one iota the worse for them. Wonderful ! However strong and active and numerous our enemies; though most crafty and designing; their plans laid with consummate skill, yet what hath been the issue ? Evil ? Nay! but good ! this I know," saith the Psalmist, " that thou favourest me, because mine enemy hath not triumphed over me."
As with troubles, so with enemies, beloved, they are essentials-almost absolutes—in the economy of salvation. However contrary to their own wishes and intentions, they minister indirectly and effectually to the wellbeing of the saints. We see it so in David, and in David's Lord. Nor can we conceive how fellowship is to be had with a suffering Christ, in the cruel things laid to his charge, if we have no enemies. Moreover, in their absence, we shall lack some most important features of discipleship; for whilst the Scriptures say, on the one hand, “ Woe is it when all men speak well of you," so, on the other, they with equal distinctiveness, declare, “ Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.”
But, beloved, what have you to say about the goodness and the faithfulness of our God in having brought you safely to the close of another year ? Yea, more, what about his mercy and forbearance and truthfulness throughout the past ? Look back-ah, we love to do so—and consider what a wonderful way that by which He has led you. Before you knew Him, and since you knew Him, oh, how sure and how sufficient the provision! Never à failure! In reality not the slightest disappointment! Enough, if none to spare! Brought down, it may be, at times very, very low. No store in temporals, as well as no stock in grace. Verily,“ poor and needy;" and
, yet what unquestionable proof that then-yea, peculiarly then—" the Lord was thinking upon thee." Thinking so specially as to send a messenger at the very nick of time to supply, dear reader, your pressing want.
Have you no recollection of such a time and such a time? Ah, matters were very low then ; your prospects gloomy indeed; the last shilling, perhapa, spent; and pressing necessities a-head! Shillings wanted ? pounds
perhaps ? it may be hundreds ? possibly thousands ? Nothing reliable-no certain channel--nothing upon the books on which you could safely depend. And yet the shilling—the pound—the hundred—the thousand-came; ah ! when and whence ? In time-never a moment late—and from His hand whose are the cattle upon a thousand hills,” and the “ gold and silver" also.
And did your faith procure it, or your works merit it? Nay, your faith perhaps had failed, and your patience was exhausted, because your time had passed, but the Lord's time had not come; because your channel had dried up, but the Lord's had not as yet been opened.
But the Lord keeps dates as well as you, and can open a door when your's have all failed.
Dear reader, we are such fools" so slow of heart to believe". -so ready " to charge God foolishly”-so little able to trust where we cannot trace. We must bring our God down to that little tiny circle in the midst of which we dwell. He must move according to our miserably contracted ideas, or fretfulness, and ingratitude, and rebellion are the consequence.
True it is, we ought to know better. If we were less vile, we should “gain some little by trading.” We should ere this, from what we have seen of our God, in his gracious loving acts, be able to say, " What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” We should be ready to suppose that every new difficulty was but paving the way for some fresh prouf of His delivering power ; but, alas ! we are, in our poor fleshly hearts, as thankless and as thoughtless as ever. Old Adam is not one iota better; but, on the contrary, a great deal worse ; for he sins against more light and knowledge against richer and more numerous displays of Fatherly wisdom, grace, and compassion. All that our God has done for us has not produced the shadow of a shade of improvement in our fallen nature; nor, as far as it is concerned, shall we ever do otherwise than “ groan, being burdened," till “ mortality is swallowed up of life.”
, beloved, seeing this is the fact, what shall we do? What? why, ask for grace not to improve Old Adam, but to subdue him. Be it ours to entreat the Lord to keep him in check; to restrain his power; and to permit us to know practically what the Apostle means in Gal. ii. 20, “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Nor let us, dearly beloved, overlook the mercy, that “ Now is our salvation nearer than when we (first) believed.” How many years nearer home are we than when first pardon was bestowed, and peace proclaimed through the blood of the everlasting covenant. Oh, think of it for a moment. How many weeks, and months, and years, have rolled back into eternity, and we that much nearer home! Five years, it may be, have fled; perhaps ten, or twenty, or even thirty! What! thirty years that were destined to be spent in the wilderuess as pilgrims—with all its trials and temptationsgone? Yes, gone, and that for ever! And what left ? Another thirty ? most certainly not. Perhaps not twenty; it may be but ten; perhaps only hye! What ! only five years of wilderness-travail left, and the same God to provide and to protect!' Oh, what mercy! Suppose, however, it should be the ten—the twentyor even the thirty, what then? How soon they will come and go; how soon be numbered with the past, even as those which have already taken their flight.
But with some of us, dear readers, there is nothing like the thirty or even the twenty years left. Long, long before even the latter period shall have arrived, we have not a doubt that many of you, as well as ourselves, shall have quitted the clay tabernacle. In this respect, some of us can enter feelingly into the language of the Apostle Peter, in his 2nd epistle, 1st chapter, and 14th verse,“ Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me."
Under this conviction, therefore, “dearly beloved and longed-for," we say, in this , our annual address, we " think it meet as long as we are in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance."
Remember how short our time is. Be it yours, and ours, to sit more and more loosely to things of earth. Soon-yea, how very, very soonshall we hear the summons, “ Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him ;" “ The Master is come, and calleth for thee."
Oh, to have “our loins girded about our lights burning
and we ourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding : that, when He cometh and knocketh, we may open unto Him immediately.”
We feel that we scarcely need, in our present Address, offer any comment upon passing events. You already know our mind upon this subject. We can see no improvement in the present generation over the past. In spite of all the enlightenment of the age, there were never more worldwide proofs of the desperate wickedness of the human heart. We doubt if ever the public press teemed with more wholesale murders, thefts, frauds, than at the present. So that whilst Popery is striving to suppress the Word of GodRationalism to pervert it-and Infidelity to bring it into contempt; its plain and simple testimony is being most unmistakeably confirmed by every-day facts.
Since our last annual Address, Peace has once again been restored to our nation. We hope it may prove-if it is the Lord's will—that it was not a premature peace ; à guilty connivance upon the part of our late ally with Russia, to procure a cessation of hostilities, until both Russia and France are in a position to make a combined attack upon our liberties and our land. To say the least, we live in eventful times -most eventful,
The attack upon the Irish Church is but in keeping with
thout of the Puseyite or Popish party in the Church in England. Both the one and the other are playing into the hands of Rome. Those who really know the Church in Ireland, are aware that it is the very lifeblood of the Protestant constitution ; that it is it which, under God, holds in check that crushing, tyrannizing power which pants for dominion-at any cost.
Brethren, it is blessed to remember, in the contemplation of any change, or the reaching of any climax, that " the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." It is sweet, amid the external strife of nations, or the internal conyulsions of kingdoms, to adopt the language if we mistake not of YOUNG
His hand the good man fastens on the skies,
We have only, in conclusion, dear Brethren and Sisters in Christ, to thank you for your continued acceptance of our imperfect labours. May the Lord impart to us more wisdom, grace, and strength, so that we may still be an instrument—however feeble—in his hands, to administer to your spiritual edification and comfort. Be it yours to bear us upon your hearts before the Lord, and to overlook all weaknesses and imperfections in your solicitude on our behalf, that more and more grace may be bestowed,
Oh, that Jehovah, in his Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may continue to shower down upon us, unitedly, through the medium of these pages, of his covenant blessing, for his great name's sake. Amen
We are, dearly beloved,
Bonmahon, Co. Waterford, Nov. 19, 1856.
“ Comfort ye, comfort ye, my People, saith your
God.” Endeavouring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.” “ Jesus Christ, the same Yesterday, To-day, and for Ever. Whom to know is
No. 13, NEW SERIES.
JANUARY 1, 1856.
No. 181, OLD SERIES.
A A MOTTO FOR 185 6!
“ GO FORWARD."-Ex. xiv. 15.
DEARLY BELOVED, it is our unspeakable privilege to greet you upon the opening of another year, and the word which we trust has been given us of the Lord for you is“ SPEAK UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THAT THEY GO FORWARD !”
We might dwell upon the past, and with you magnify the wisdom, and the grace, and the power, and the faithfulness, that have been vouchsafed to us. Truly we can say,
“ It is of his mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not ;” and “ Having obtained help of our God, we continue unto this day.” But, deeply sensible as we are of these great and glorious realities, there is a sense in which we are “ to forget those things which are behind, and to reach forth unto those things which are before, pressing toward the mark of the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
It is to this we would, at present, specially give heed. It is in sweet keeping with the words before us, 4 GO FORWARD !”
In order to get somewhat at the pith and marrow of the text, and to draw out of the precious Gospel comfort which it contains, we must consider the circumstances in which Israel was at this time placed.
After those marvellous displays of divine sovereignty and power which Israel had witnessed in connexion with their exodus from Egypt, they are commanded to “encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon: before it (saith the Lord) shall ye encamp by the sea.” The directions were very explicit. They could scarcely be mistaken. And this was the more desirable considering what awaited them. It was to be the scene of a mighty conflict, about which Israel would have been in utter ignorance but for the Lord's condescension in giving them prior intimation of the fact.
It is worthy, beloved, that we should pause for a moment in order that we may contemplate that fact. You that know the Lord will find it confirmed