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THE BURDEN OF THE WORD OF THE LORD.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine.
I find in the Magazine of this month, whilst you are reviewing the hard and heartless state of things in this modern Sardis, these words, Birmingham has its little sections of truth-lovers, we doubt not; and such we wish God-speed with all our hearts. But what a small proportion they must bear to the great mass." Alas! how true is this; and if you felt it so deeply whilst tarrying for a Sabbath, judge ye what this soul must have experienced for twelve years as a feeble mouth to and for one of those " sections of truth-lovers," longing, as it has, and is still, that Christ may be glorified in the believer's life, and in the sinner's salvation.
But it is our consolation to know, whilst "watching for souls," and "trembling for the ark of God," that the dear Lord hath never left himself without witness in the Church and before the world, to the everlasting love of the Father-the ever and overflowing fulness of the Sonwith the ever-needful power of the Spirit, securing by all Israel's everlasting salvation.
Oh! it doth indeed cheer my oft-desponding heart, whilst standing on the walls of Zion, to feel assured that the same Eternal Spirit of truth that dwelt and moved in the hearts of holy men in past ages, to make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, still dwells in the souls of a remnant scattered abroad, who for "Zion's sake will not (dare not) hold their peace, and for Jerusalem's sake will not rest until the righteousness thereof (even the imputed and imparted righteousness of a glorious Christ) go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
But how little is heard or known of them. Unknown oft in the city, town, or village where they dwell, and sometimes even to many of God's children around, yet well known by a Trinity in Unity on high, and loved too! being, like Jacob, plain men, living in tents, and not like Esau-spirits, cunning hunters, and men of that field called popularity and applause. So little seems known or said of an Enoch (Gen. v. 24), a Jabez (1 Chron. iv. 10), an Obadiah (1 Kings xviii. 3), a Michaiah (xxii. 8), a Tychicus (Col. iv. 7), a Justus, Epaphras, with Archippus (Col. iv. 11, 12, 17), and many more left on record; and although so little is said of them, we must believe, from their brief history, they were souls most holy and enduring, most faithful and fervent truthlovers and livers, as revealed from the Father in the Son, by the Spirit. And the same thing is true to this day, and will be as long as Christ hath a Church in this vale of tears-as long as Eph. iv. 13, remains unfulfilled.
And oh, what a voice is here to all ministers and churches of Christ, to suspend their judgment over other pastors and churches, that they have never personally seen, heard, or known; for Satan hath a fearful tempation on this matter, even to tempt one good man and section of the Church, that they are left alone in and with the truth, and none but they are in the spirit and power, preaching, living, and enduring for Christ and his gospel; and so, under a false impression, and through ignorance,
begin to judge, speak, or write bitter things against the very servants and children of God in charge and love of the truth with themselves, even to the exclusion of them from their houses and pulpits, hearts and hands.
May the good Spirit of Jesus ever preserve you (as he hath hitherto done), with all the readers of the Gospel Magazine, from this growing sin, lest in so doing we are found denying the Lord in his people-limiting the Holy One of Israel-helping on Satan's work in widening Zion's breaches, and weakening "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" -of adding affliction to the already tried saints-causing the weak to stumble, and unbelievers to rail and rejoice; and, what is more terrible still, lest we tempt the Lord to put in force those solemn words (over which I greatly tremble), "Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matt. vii. 1, 2). And if a jealous God doth this, the poor soul is put into a dark prison, and there for weeks, months, and sometimes for years, shut up, stripped, emptied, and chastened as a warning to all not to interfere with Jehovah's prerogative, but leave the judgment-seat, and work to and for him who judgeth righteously. See 1 Cor. iv. 5-7.
That your heart, lips, and pen may be ever filled with the love of God in Christ, is the prayer of
Yours in him,
Birmingham, Aug. 1849.
I'm sinful (a), yet I have no sin (b);
(a) 1 John i. 8. (f) Phil. iv. 13. vi. 15. (1) Col. iii. (0) Ps. xliv. 25. (8) Prov. xxiv. 16. vii. 22. (v) Matt. Plymouth.
Both dead and living (7), lost and found (m);
(6) 1 John iii. 9. (c) Ps. xiv. 3. (d) Song iv. 7.
(e) John xv. 5. (k) Rom. iii. 31; (n) Col. iii. 1, 2. (r) Ps. xl. 2. viii. 2; 1 Cor.
THE VALUATION OF CHURCH FIXTURES.
MANY thanks to you, dear Editor, for your welcome note and kind inquiries after the inmate of the stall, who notwithstanding increasing age and infirmities, is not yet dead, yet sick of heart, and suffering much from its soundings, at the increased gatherings of the cloud, which has so long hung over our beloved country, in the threatened destruction of its once almost impregnable bulwark, a Protestant Church. Alas! alas! for the riches she has gotten are perished; every head, as Crispin's, is become bald, every beard clipped; upon all hands cuttings, and upon all loins sackcloth. Like Moab of old, the year of visitation is come (Jer. xlviii. 36-46); yet a little while and its undermined fabric will fall into ruin ; and the blessing secured once by the blood of our forefathers, be only with the things that once were.
My belly has long trembled, and my voice quivered, at the voice which for the last few years has been sent forth from the metropolitan cathedral. Nor can I dispossess myself of that fear and dread, that, should some little addition be granted to the already "few and evil" days of an old man's pilgrimage, he will have to witness the idolatrous priests of Rome, aided by the apostates of England, perambulating the bounds of St. Paul's with their soul-deceiving and God-dishonouring host, and the inhabitants of the first Protestant city in the world, bowing down unto it. Yea, nothing can prevent it, since the late decision in the Arches Court has given such men as Charles James of London, and Henry of Exeter, the ascendancy over the consciences of our spiritual clergy; for we may depend upon it, that a nominal subscription to articles will not suffice where there is the least reason to conclude the subscriber has not a full face towards Rome. Baptismal regeneration will be the only pass-word into the Church; and who can deny but this is the stable rock and foundation of the whole deception of Popery? So long as the Protestant Church opposed this dogma, she could defy all her foes, and laugh at their threatened invasion. But upon the Judge of the Arches Court has the disgrace fallen of striking out the centre, and, as a consequence of the same, complete ruin must follow.
Bear with your aged correspondent, whose silvered locks and care-worn brow plead a little indulgence from you and your readers; and do not conclude his close affinity with second childhood so far prevails as to put him in fear of the fancied death-watch-the ticking spider that lodges in the old cuckoo-clock that has so long been suspended in the corner of his stall. Nay, it is not so, for certain it is that the knell of Protestant England has long since rung out, and that all that now takes place is but the vibration of its dolorous sound, which sent forth through the length and breadth of the land the war-whoop, " Catholic emancipation;" and a nation's sufferings will wreak out vengeance upon those political dissenters who were instrumental in the obtaining it. Neither Cobbler How nor the Tinker Bunyan would acknowledge them as of their stock; the deed is done, nor can it be undone. Yea, the combined power of those brethren you so recently visited, and of whom you speak in such glowing colours, as to
born of the
make us almost think, did we not know better, that golden days were returned to our Church; even they will fail in endeavouring to make the "first fixture" in any way a moveable. The image in the plains of Dura was not more imperative to be fallen down unto, than this bishop's manacle, baptismal regeneration; it will hang as a drag chain around their necks, in defiance of all their ministration of truth: and the times which have gone over old Crispin have carried too much conviction to allow him one thought that bishops will forego any of the power they have to exercise over those who are bound to yield them obedience-not a novice in the mystery of cordwaining, yet I have long found it beyond my art to even repair a bishop's shoe; must therefore be content to exhibit them in my stall window, with the attractive label attached, “ Church fixtures." Without controversy or disputation upon these said fixtures, being satisfied they are not the patrimony of the family who are Spirit," and to whom they shall all be fully revealed by that Spirit, who, as a quickening Spirit, is sent forth into the heart, and not by the proxypromise of what may, or may not, hereafter take place; I could not altogether refrain from ringing a lapstone peal, and that with full sorrow of heart, not to the inviting notes of our dear Editor's " Visits to the Brethren." Sharp notes and pleasing sights but rarely reach the dull ear, or strike the dim sight of old Crispin; hence his leader must be, the perils of the brethren and were I not fully aware the beloved Editor is in no way defective in the visionary optic, should have concluded he had seen none of those perils in his recent visits to the brethren. Be this as it may, it can be no longer hid that the late bull issued from under the dome of St. Paul's in the shape of judgment, has fixed as a household appendage the revolting and unscriptural dogma, baptismal regeneration; nor can any doubt arise but every means will be used with the Roman relic, to exalt it as the deity at whose shrine all the nation must bow down, and not dare to question the intrinsic value of so antique a fixture. What say the brethren whose praise is in all the churches to these things? Will they disobey them which have the rule over them, or, as too many of the time-serving clergy are in the habit of doing, take the ipse dixit of a bishop for conscience-salve.
Crispin, like many others in the crowded hive of London at this season of the year, seeks for a little relaxation from the confinement of the stall, and loves to range the spangled meadow and the waving corn-field, provided such is the state of the finances to allow it without the pleasure being stung with the reflection afterwards from calls being made, "pay me what thou owest ;" but with these enjoyments, endeared as they always are, the old man's ambition is to connect information concerning things as they are. It is in vain to look for them as they were. Hence many of his perambulations might not be mistermed voyages of discovery; yet always confining himself to his own order of things, by sticking to the Church abroad with the same tenacity he does to his leather and lapstone at home; and thus he becomes, in some measure acquainted with the perils of his brethren: or to speak without a figure, the ascendancy of Romish will-worship over the simple and truthful worship of spirit and truth, and which is founded upon the flesh-pleasing, long secretly but now more openly set-up fixture of no value, "Baptismal Regeneration," openly carried on in crowded towns, and insidiously introduced into our rural districts; and may the day be far distant when we shall lack the Gospel
Magazine as a channel to convey the holy jealousy of our soul in consequence of such things; and may no film affect the sight of its good Editor, in preventing its exposé: for nothing less than peril awaits the brethren so long as these fixtures remain, and must, by the nod of a bishop, be taken to by every successive occupant. But I hasten to detail one or two of those evils arising therefrom, as coming before me in my summer's tour, which will prove that I did not fall under so bright an horizon as our worthy friend from the green isle did, and will at once explain why my present communication should bear the headline, "The valuation of Church Fixtures," and my strong feeling for the perils of the brethren.
Being in one of our densely-populated towns, taking a stroll, after being kindly entertained at the family table of one of those who being unknown yet is well known, a dull and monotonous sound fell upon my ears. It was not such which in my boyish days was cheering as the church-going bell; yet something gave the impulse it was the hour of prayer, and as far as the buz of the thronged street would allow, I followed its sound, and reached a most splendid and magnificent building, just as the last accent was dying away, but was struck when entering at the dark and very sombre appearance of its interior, resembling in every respect from its carved work, stained glass windows, and all other things corresponding with those unseemly structures in our land, erected for the performance of Rome's mummeries. As soon as my aged eyes became reconciled to the place, a stone altar, adorned with a cross, and elevated upon stone steps, was discovered, and in front a group of females, with an officiating priest, who was going through the service of churching the said females, who knelt on the stone step adjoining the stone balustrade, which divided the altar, or table, from the other part of the chancel. The ceremony being ended, the noviciate, for it appeared he had not long left alma mater, prostrated himself at the foot of the cross, elevating his hands, in true Romish style, remaining so for some time, and then by a secret passage behind the said table, which I could not survey, disappeared; but was soon, with two or three more as beardless as himself, heading a procession of men and boys arrayed in white surplices, from one of the ante-chapels, and entering the choir of the church, proceeded to conduct the evening service, which was so performed, that if all were as unedified as Crispin, with their barbarous manner of worship, there would not be many amens in giving of thanks. Thus the simple and unostentatious mode of our everto-be-revered Reformers, is frittered away for this valueless fixture of the abandoned harlot.
From the plan of introducing the customs of Rome amongst the wellinformed, we just glance at the specious one adopted to ensnare our rustic population, and which was fully carried out a short time since within the diocese of Chichester, and which fell very little short of exhibiting the host. The quietude of a village in which a new church was some few years since erected, was broken in upon by the arrival of some strange individuals from a town adjacent, who, it was soon noised abroad, were come to do honour to the patron saint of their church, which the builders had kindly conferred upon one of the James's. In due time a procession was formed at a house in the village, and wended its way towards the church; the singing boys, who had arrived in the morning, in white dresses, bearing banners, on which were represented the cross and the