« PreviousContinue »
through some or all of them we shall have to go. By water we may understand all sorts of afflictions, family, bodily, in soul and in circumstances: hence you read that the Lord gives the bread of adversity and the water of affliction. Again; cruel treatment from ungodly men, this is called water also: hence David calls them the proud waters and waves. Again; God's wrath, though to his own family called a little wrath, still it goes by the name of water: see the xixth Psalm, "Save me, O God, for the waters are come into my soul." Lastly, death; crossing the river Jordan may well be called going through water. Now put all these things together, of fire and water which I have only hinted at; surely the trial will be very great: but this is our greatest comfort, which at times, even in this painful path we can take, namely, "I will be with thee;" and indeed if he was not, we should be consumed or drowned; but this never can be the case, though we fully conclude it will. Now we know that the Lord is with us, by the support, succour and strength which he gives us; so that we hold on; many sweet lifts we get in reading his word, good books, talking with his tried family, and hearing his word preached. Now every trial we get through, is a waymark; and this is laying up in store a good foundation, as Paul did, when he said, He hath delivered, he doth deliver, and in whom we trust he will yet deliver." Only look at Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, the Son of God was with them, so that not a hair of their head was singed: Daniel also, in the lions' den, the Lord was with him and shut the lions' mouths: he was with Abraham also; what sore trials he had, but the Lord told him not to fear, for said he "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward;" Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph also, he was put in prison, but the Lord was with Joseph: and indeed so we may go
on all through the Scriptures. But great opposition will attend this way also, for Satan will strongly suggest, that these chastisements are judgments that are coming upon us from God in a vindictive way; and we go on filled with terror and slavish fear. O what have I suffered in this way, and yet here I am to this present moment. Now let this fire and water be whatever it may, I am sure that it comes upon us, or we come into it, by faith; do you look back, and see if any of these things tried you as they do now, years back: but has your faith increased, so both your trials and your comforts have increased also. These eminent servants of God, that I have been mentioning, noted for faith, are also noted for suffering; and the one way is the Lord Jesus Christ, for he brings us through fire and through water, and out into a wealthy place.
Twenty-fourth way: which is the way of God's testimonies. It has been a very great trial to me, to find out whether I really loved the word of God or not, for I have felt more dislike to reading that book than to any author: that is, I have found a likeing to good books, and to read them, but a very great reluctance to the Scripture. I do not say, always, but in general; but two things have helped me here to prove, that after all I like the holy word best. 1st, If I was called to part with every book I have got, but one, and that I might keep, all should go before the Bible, provided I could by no means obtain another. 2nd, Any author whose writing cannot be proved by God's word, is of no esteem to me; try yourself by these things, poor tempted soul. Thus we love his testimonies, and walk in them. But I will mention a few advantages we get in thus walking. 1st, then, observe, it is by attending to this that we are to
cleanse our way,
"wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy
word; but he that despiseth the word shall be destroyed." The Holy Spirit indited the word, and he works by it, but never contrary to it, for" holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work." But do not you imagine, that because you are a partaker of grace, and have gifts also, that therefore you can go to the word and get understanding, as you may in natural things: no, there must be a supernatural power displayed continually, in order that we may comprehend the holy word; and therefore at certain times the word reproves us when wrong; the word corrects our errors, the word instructs us in the right way, the word gives us to know sound doctrine, and we are kept simply depending on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all essential truth. 2nd, God's word is the best counsellor that we can have. And it is better to consult that word, than to run about to an arm of flesh. Yea; and if we consult God's family to the neglect of the word, even that will be a snare, "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety:" yes, say you, that makes me like to consult all men of any understanding at all, so that I may have plenty of counsellors, and know their opinions. Yes; but Solomon does not mean as you do; for I believe, that there would be danger instead of safety. We read of evil council, and there is no safety there; in a word then, the holy Scriptures is what Solomon means by the multitude of counsellors: hence David says, Thy testimonies ase my delight and my counsellors," Psalm cxix. 24. It is this word and nothing else but now to prove this. pose you get entangled, as a christian, in any particular way, all the council
which you can rake together it must agree with the holy word; but if God's word condemn it, it is evil council. Then are not the testimonies the only counsellors wherein there is safety? But after all you cannot get at this counsel without the Holy Ghost; reading the word only will not do and here we must bring our daily experience to try it: our life, walk and conversation; all the preachers we hear, all the authors we read, all the companions we have; this is a safe way, and woe be to the man that rejects it, they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is there in them? Why, none. Lastly, for I must be brief. A good hope comes by this word, for it is the means the Lord uses, to raise the soul to hope. And oh, how very valuable this is to the sinking soul, and, indeed, none else know the real worth of a good hope. I have been in such a despairing way, that if I had had the whole world, and, a good hope would have been given me for it. I would have parted with it. The tried and tempted know well what I Now Paul says, "Whatsever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." But we must take the word and the Spirit together, for, of itself, it is a dead letter: hence Paul says, "We are to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost;" from all which you may see, that these testimonies are a way to walk in: yes, and a delightful way too, and the only way to walk right. David himself says, "I have rejoiced, in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all
riches." But as much is in the Italics, so, that as it is not in the original text, you may read it as follows," More than in all riches," and not injure the holy word, for the italic is man's work, put in by man to make it sound better, and Solomon will bear me out when
"Wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to it." The Lord Jesus Christ, the lip of truth also, in the same chapter says, "My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold, &c." Prov. viii. 19. Now I think, that certainly the rich treasure of God's word, goes beyond all riches, and is not to be put upon a level with worldly gain, so that he rejoiced in it more than in all riches, and not as much. But say you, will David himself bear you out in this assertion? Yes, he will, and therefore read the xixth Psalm, where he spake much of these testimonies, and in verse 10th he says, "More are they to be desired than gold," he does not say, as much, but more &c. But will this way be opposed? Yes, it will, for naturally we do not like to consult the word, but like our own will and own way: yes, and our fleshly wisdom will oppose this way with many other things, so that it is no easy thing to abide stedfast by the word. Now Jesus Christ is the way also; for he opens our understanding, to understand the scriptures, and the scriptures testify of him; he is the sum and substance of all the holy word. And is all this in a way of looking or believing? Yes, it certainly is, hence David says, "I have believed thy commandments:" hence John says, These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.
when you cease to fight, the Lord will fight for you. Oh, what grace it requires in us, to cease from meddliug with what does not belong Vengeance is mine," saith the Mr. I's., character and conduct is well known to many faithful servants of God, to their grief and sorrow. And as I have told you before, so I say again, to cease from him, and leave what he may say of you to the hands of the Lord. So long as you continue in your strength, fighting against him, will assuredly go the wall. Jeremiah said, thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil, because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily &c." For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watch for my halting, saying, peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him." Thus have the faithful messengers of the Lord, suffered for their testimony. And it is most blessed for you, if you can class yourself among such a noble army. It is far better to be the persecuted than the persecutor; and you are as Peter says, to "glorify God on this behalf," knowing that his truth will give offence, It is no uncommon thing, for a dear child of God, and bright jewel of the crown of King of kings, to be trod on and persecuted by false brethren. The apostle bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, and these wounds which you have had, and have borne patiently, and carried them to the Lord Jesus to heal, will one day be your highest honour; do not yon think lightly of them, for the Lord will not. But so long as you imitate Mrs C., having been with us this Israel of old, in going to war with afternoon wishes me to drop you a false brethren you will, like thein line or two. And first I would say, have trouble. I am not siding with January, 1844.]
(To be Continued in our next.)
A COPY OF A LETTER FROM A BRO-
"In perils by FALSE brethren." 1 Cor. xi. 26.
My dear afflicted Brother,
Mr. I., far from it: knowing pretty well the injury he hath done others besides you. Jeremiah said, The Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one; therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail; they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper :" and he goes on to say, Unto thee have. I opened my cause," the promises of God are all on your side," Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." My dear brother, your short note is full of sweetness. It is honey from the rock. Oh, you anticipate the day with joyful extacy when you will live and reign in Jesus breast! I have been thinking of the solemnity of the work of God, all nature is full of life and activity, and when God commands the great wheel to stand still and to cease in its revolution an awful scenery will be witnessed death black and dismal will be realized. But oh, the unspeakable happiness of being placed where death cannot throw its dart, to be one in Christ. How poor, cold and formal are my praises to him that hath conquered death for me; it is unworthy the name, yet I praise him, with my whole heart, when the precious supply is given me to do so from his own fulness. You are highly favoured; few live in the salubrious atmosphere you do. I believe it is the reigning desire of your heart to extol the glories of the Redeemer, to lift him up—I was going to say, with every breath.
blessed Spirit; a real blessing fol lows: so that if we meet with the painful, here is also the pleasant; and one is worth enduring for the sake of the other. And,
Though painful at present,
The conqueror's song."
"Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." One more text I would wish you to think on, and act upon, and may the dear Lord bless it to both of us for our strength is wholly and entirely from him; and when the glory of his Majesty ariseth, to shake terribly the earth we shall, sensibly know, own and acknowledge it," Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accouted of?"
This day of the Lord will be upon all the cedars of Lebanon, ministers. that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan (strong in their own strength) and upon all the high mountains and upon all the hills that are lifted up, &c. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Therefore, let them alone; Satan's wolves must have their short day of triumph, as well as God's faithful servants their day of tears. As long as there is a faithful servant of God on this earth, there will never be wanting a ravening wolf, to bite him in secret, nor a dog to bark at him, for the truth sake. But death will soon divide them, and an awful division it will be; the one will go to his black banquet of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, in blackness and darkness for ever; and the other will, go to enjoy the rivers of pleasure, which are at God's right hand for ever more.
I had got another letter three parts written to you, from Canterbury, giving you some little account of
things in these parts; but hearing Mrs. C. was in London, I have declined it, and have wrote in another strain. She gave me some little account of the agitated state of your mind, arising from these high cedars of Lebanon and strong oaks of Ba shan; which I am sure you will never hew down in your own strength: leave them in the hand of the Lord, and wait patiently for his deliverance. The wicked plotteth against the just and gnasheth upon him with his teeth; the Lord shall laugh at him for he seeth that his day is coming. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree; yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: yea I sought him, but he could not be found," Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13, 35, 36. A bay tree soon spreads in Judea, and soon dies. I find things have been in an unpleasant state in Dr. R-'s, new trials have sprung up there; and so in many, many little assemblies of the saints, the great enemy sows his tares. Your afflictions keep you low, watchful, humble and from being lifted up, and you may one day rise, when some who have stood high shall fall.
"That foe can't boast of much,
That makes us watch and pray."
I hope your son, Ebenezer, is well, and is improving his mind, in these his youthful and best days, and, like the busy bees, in sucking and getting honey from every flower; the mind, being the hive, and a godly experience the honey. Do not be very long before you write to me; writing will keep you from brooking over your troubles, and be useful to you, as well as yours, in Jesus.
These through fiery trials trod;
Joy and gladness banish sighs,
THE vision of David the son of Daniel, which he saw concerning the religious world. And it came to pass, as I sat in my house at eventide, and my family sat about me, that the spirit of meditation took me up and carried me far away, and sat me down in a great valley, among a multitude of people of every kindred, nation and tongue, and said unto me, Son of man, lift up now thine eyes, and see what this people do. So I looked, as I was commanded, and lo, a great company were compassing sea and land to make prosylites, and teaching them to worship a piece of bread, and pay adoration to the highly ornamented statutes of the good and great, who had long ago slept with their fathers. I saw also, that they made long prayers, and used vain repetitions, and appeared wonderfully devout: then said I to him who talked with me, Oh sir, what manner of people is this? and he said unto me, Go to yonder pillar, and look through the glass which hangs thereon: so I looked, and behold, Satan sat enthroned in their hearts, breathing out threatening and slaughter against the innocent and the just. Then was I taken with great fear, and said, O sir, why are not the inhabitants of the valley