Page images

point, her purse, the effects of the famine, and the folly of nurturing idolatry.

Hence it is that we were threatened with the sword in this very Popish Ireland (aided by the Jesuit emissaries, actively employed in England), but mercifully spared as yet, whilst other nations have been deluged with blood.

Hence also it is that the Lord is speaking to us by the pestilence which is abroad, making many desolate, and cutting off both man and beast; for though you in this great city may not be aware of it, the hand of the Lord is even now upon the cattle also, and fearful loss is sustained in all quarters. But from the pestilence which afflicteth man at this time, you, in this highly-favoured place, have again been mercifully spared hitherto, though within these few days it has appeared unmistakeably among you, and those who were alive in the morning are consigned to the grave ere night.

We are assembled here on this most interesting and solemn occasion, by your dear and faithful minister, whom the Chief Shepherd has sent so graciously to minister among you, to acknowledge the Lord's goodness, and to inquire of him respecting these his doings, lest, being found in ignorance of his mind, we be but "as beasts before him," and understand not the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. May he be with us, and by his Eternal Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, our risen and living Head, guide us into all truth.

There are two important considerations which arise in the mind from this subject. First, What effect God's judgments have upon the world. Secondly, What effect they have upon the Church.

With regard to the world, the Scriptures, from beginning to end, proclaim that judgments, unaccompanied by sovereign, distinguishing grace, universally tend to harden the heart, and fill up the measure of iniquity, whereby the grapes of the earth become fully ripe for the winepress of the furiousness and wrath of Almighty God, as was fully exemplified in the case of Pharaoh; and that it will be the same to the end we learn from Rev. ix. 20, 21, where the effects are stated of those most awful judgments yet to be poured out upon mankind in the "great and terrible day of the Lord." "The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." Our own hearts, beloved, show us the wickedness of the ungodly, that there is no fear of God before their eyes; we need not, therefore, dwell upon this point further than to say, that God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Whilst he preserveth the feet of his saints, he keepeth also the path of judgment with the world; and by-and-bye, when the books shall be opened, and the secrets of all hearts revealed, and the wicked judged out of those things which are written in the books, the very heavens shall declare his righteousness.

Very blessed, however, are the effects, beloved, of God's judgments upon the Church. The Lord is, then, judging them by chastisement here, that they may not be condemned hereafter with the world (1 Cor. xi. 32), or, in fact, come at all into the judgment of the world (John v. 24).


They, appearing now in the spirit of their mind, before the judgmentseat of Christ, pass from death unto life, judging themselves by the teaching of the blessed Spirit, to be what God hath proclaimed them to be in the word, both in themselves and in Christ, and therefore need not to be brought into judgment hereafter. Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Hence it is that "whom the If we endure chastening God dealeth with us as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" These dispensations are called judgments more in reference to their effect upon the Church than upon the world. We find the expression thus used (Ez. xx. 4), judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? "Wilt thou the abominations of their fathers." Cause them to know day; and such, we believe, will be the result in the present day. A Such was the result in the prophet's remnant shall be brought forth (mark the expression shall be), God does not leave it dependent upon circumstances. is a Sovereign. He says, Beloved, our God "Let there be light," and there is light, both in nature and in the benighted souls of his people, whom he hath loved with an everlasting love, and still loves, though trespasses and sins." When the commandment goes forth concerning "dead in them, as Lazarus came forth from the grave at his voice, so his people come forth from spiritual death to spiritual life. Though they be but a remnant, yet glory be to his name, a remnant according to the election of grace, even sons and daughters; who because he is Jehovah and changes not, have not been consumed. Now are there not those here this evening, who have been thus brought forth by the power of the Eternal Spirit; who can stand up to testify to the truth; who can trace the manifestation of such unspeakable mercy as they have experienced to no other possible source than to the Father's own purpose and grace given to them in Christ Jesus before the world was? Oh, dear friends, if you know anything of God in his holiness, and of yourselves in your own nothingness and corruption, it must be so; and the testimony of Christ is confirmed in your own souls at this moment. name, we are looking also for others to be brought forth as his witnesses; Blessed be his who being formed for himself, shall in due time show forth his praise. We look at the solemn events going on in the midst of us, as the means in the hand of the Lord Jehovah for judging them, for humbling them, and for accomplishing the good pleasure of his will in them.

Oh! who can tell what horrible pits and miry clay of sin, and corruption, of vanity and folly, the Lord's people have to be brought forth from, what hard rocks of stubborn nature they have to be hewn out of, what unholy alliances and confederacies they have to be separated from. Think of those things from which the Corinthian Church were brought forth, enumerated 1 Cor. vi. 9. Well might Hannah sing (1 Sam. ii. 8), "He raised up the poor out of the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory, for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them." Who can tell what dealings are necessary in the view of infinite wisdom and prudence wherein he hath abounded towards us, in the provisions of the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, for the purpose of bringing forth this remnant? Surely not one pang less than he endured, or a less ignominious process would have sufficed to humble the thief on the cross, and bring him to cry, "Lord, remember

me," to him whom he had just before reviled and despised. But God's name and honour are concerned, and his people must be willing in the day of his power, and then, and not till then, it is, that they come to know the Lord to be what he really is, as it is written (Ez. xx. 44), “Ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel." Human nature can get very far, but it cannot get here. Man may readily make very refined Pharisees and hypocrites, but can never make an humble, broken-hearted, believing child of God, sensible of salvation by the remission of his sins. To know God by any other means is no better than the knowledge of devils, of which James speaks, when he says (ii. 19), "Thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble." May the Lord reveal himself to us more and more, and call forth songs of praise from all his redeemed ones, for having manifested himself to them in a way that he doth not unto the world.

We learn also from our text to whom this remnant are brought when they come forth, "They shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their ways and their doings." The cry of the Church in the Song is (i. 7), "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?" No, beloved, they shall not turn aside from God's children-they shall follow in the footsteps of the flock, and shall cast in their lot with his people; they shall rally round God's faithful ministers and witnesses, and shine as lights in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, holding forth the word of life; and cause the Churches to glorify God for what he hath done in them. They shall truly come forth from their kindred and fathers' house, as Abraham of old did, as well as from all their filthiness and from all their idols. All carnal bonds shall be broken, the world shall see it and speak of it, as it was said of the Thessalonian Church, " They themselves show how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to, wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. i. 9, 10), though the world think it strange that they run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of them.

Well now, how is it with you, dear people? Are you thus manifested as God's people? Do all take knowledge of you, that you have been with Jesus? Do they see that all your delight upon earth is in the saints, or are you lingering, like Lot, among the carnal? Is your heart yet with the men of the world? Be assured, "whosoever loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him," and one of the most appalling signs of these last days is, that Christians are beginning to smite their fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken (Matt. xxiv. 49), as our Lord foretold should be the case. Satan is labouring hard to keep up divisions in the camp by every possible means, and the veriest trifles are separating many of God's dearest and most blessed children, and the consequence is, they are greatly straitened in their own souls. There are some also, like Nicodemus of old, who came to Jesus only by night, not openly, for fear of the Jews. He did not like the reproach of "him whom the world despised, whom the nation abhorred," and it is

so now. There are others who altogether forsake the assembling of themselves together, a course so expressly forbidden (Heb. x. 25). Forgetting, that "they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Depend upon it the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob, and those who neglect the means shall lack the soul-refreshing enjoyment of that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God, the secret place of the tabernacles of the Most High, for God is in the midst of her (Ps. lxvi. 4, 5). We believe it to be far better and healthier for the soul to sit and listen to the babblings of a babe in grace in the sanctuary, than to sit at home forsaking the assembly of his saints, remembering how our Lord took a little child, and set him in the midst of his disciples, and said, "Whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me; but whoso shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the depths of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh" (Matt. xviii. 5—7). Out of these ways, and from these things, the Lord's people must come forth. It may needs be by a very bitter experience and process.


Lastly. The Lord's ministers shall be upheld and comforted by the remnant that shall be brought forth. They shall comfort you when you see their ways and their doings." It may be otherwise as regards those who cannot say with Paul, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which is believed by me is not after man; for I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ." Nevertheless, the ways and doings of the Lord's called ones shall be satisfactory to the Lord's sent ministers, and “ they shall be comforted" in them. Perhaps there never was a time when the Lord's ministers more required comfort than they do at this time. We believe there never was a more trying time; though fire and faggot have for a season ceased, the fiery trial of faith has not ceased, and herein "we wrestle not against flesh and blood merely, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. vi. 12). The awful circumstances of the present day, independent of the distressing scenes which arise from the pestilence now abroad in the land, render the situation of the ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ a peculiarly trying one, and they specially need to see the "end of the Lord" in his ways and doings at this time; that their own minds, being brought into accordance with him, and their people through them, the whole Church of the living God may walk with God in adoring love (for "how can two walk together except they be agreed?") and be able to admire his wisdom and goodness, and say, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty," yet "just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints;" while the kingdoms of this world are "blaspheming the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repent not of their deeds" (Rev. xvi. 11). Beloved, we believe that the Lord is making a short work in the earth; we believe that he is about speedily to accomplish the number of his elect, and to hasten his kingdom; we hear of a mighty work going on in all parts of the earth, during these late

judgments of the famine, the sword, and the pestilence, whereby a remnant has been brought forth, even from amongst the most deluded followers of Papacy; and we see manifest signs to the eye of faith of his speedy appearing. We do, indeed, look for the glorious day very, very soon to dawn, when the Sun of Righteousness will arise on our distracted world with healing in his wings; when a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment; for when he who is our life shall appear, we shall appear, with him, in glory. Our salvation is not merely from hell and damnation-this is a low view-but the salvation which is in Christ Jesus is with eternal glory (2 Tim. ii. 10). His bride shall share the throne of her bridegroom. May the Lord bless his word; may it not be like the morning cloud and the early dew, which leave no trace behind; but may he cause his work to appear in this place, and he shall have all the praise and the glory, in time and through the countless ages of eternity. Amen.


[Some of the following particulars we had, during our recent rambles, from our dear aged friend, the Pilgrim's, own lips. We coveted for our readers the enjoyment we had in listening to so sweet a testimony of free and sovereign grace. May the Lord the Spirit indulge them with it. Nothing so warms our hearts as these precious proofs, that where "sin hath abounded, grace doth much more abound," and that

"Whom he loves he never leaves,
But loves unto the end."


A FEW years ago I was requested to assist at the burial of a young woman, whom I had visited during her illness. In travelling along the road, my mind was much engaged in thinking upon her now happy state, and praised the Lord for his mercy towards her; but cast down at the prospect of the scene of a country funeral-and oh that we could say that it were much better in towns. It was at that season of the year, the beginning of summer, when everything around us calls loudly for thankfulness to the God of all mercies. "The little hills rejoice on every side, the pastures are clothed with fatness, the valleys also are covered over with corn, they shout for joy, they also sing." But richer blessings presented themselves to my mind in the glorious work of everlasting love in Christ my Lord; and whilst God's work in creation called aloud for songs of praise, the gospel, the everlasting gospel, was the theme of my song; for Christ was all in all to me. In fording the river, on my way to the common, the place of the dear saint's abode, I intended if possible to prevent everything unsuitable to the solemnity, according to my dear sister's earnest request. I felt much the awful state in which sin brought mankind, yet rejoicing that the deceased had triumphed in the Lord her Saviour; and I dare believe that there was a little envy mixed with it, at the thought that she, at the early age of twenty-three years, was transplanted into the kingdom of glory, whilst I might have to struggle for many years yet, and as the event has proved, with sin, Satan, and the world, yet enabled to triumph in my Lord and Saviour. How often do we find, like the poor woman at the tomb of our Lord, who had been fretting who should roll the stone away; and behold, when they came the stone was rolled away. As I approached the house, or rather hut, I

« PreviousContinue »