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WHAT a solemn visitation is this, that, in the last three months, has snatched away 12,000 of our fellow-mortals, with immortal souls, from scenes of actions here below, to appear before the tribunal of God! What pictures of sudden misery has it produced! Families bereft of their principal members; and, in some instances, whole circles swept away by this besom of destruction. What is the cause of this sore calamity? and how is it to be stayed? are questions engrossing public attention; but as a writer has observed, "The progress of this mysterious malady has been marked by anomalies, irreducible to any law, hitherto ascertained, and even baffled every theoretical interpretation," proving that whatever physical means Jehovah may employ, it is he who directs and determines the issue of life and death to men and nations; and he will do as seemeth him good, in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and who shall stay his hand? It is he who hath permitted the east wind to come up from the wilderness, the springs to become dry, and the fountains to be dried up." And why? "Because, according to their pasture, they (the people) were filled, and their hearts were exalted; therefore have they forgotten me, saith the Lord."
In the blessed Word of God, wherever we read of a land afflicted with famine, pestilence, or judgments of any kind, its cause is always explained to be on account of the rebellion and wickedness of the people. "Wherefore, as I live," saith the Lord, "I will execute judgments in Jerusalem," ,""because they have defiled my sanctuary with all detestable things and with all abominations." The Lord saith unto Jeremiah, "Go speak unto the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you," &c. "Because ye will not return from your evil ways, and make your ways and your doings good." Why were the judgments of God on Babylon? "Because they made mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness." Why did the Lord send a pestilence among the children of Israel, after the manner of Egypt, but "because of their idolatry?" "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Verily the Lord doth visit the people for their iniquities, and he distributeth sorrows in his anger. Surely, then, his anger is proved now, in the sorrow that is distributed in almost every family. We are surrounded by sorrowing widows, sorrowing husbands, sorrowing orphans, and sorrowing friends. And can we wonder that God is angry, when we consider the wickedness of the people? "Run ye to and fro," not through the streets of Jerusalem and the broad places thereof, but through the streets of London and the cities and towns of England, and how few can we behold "seeking the truth, and following after Jesus." "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have if we pray unto him?" seems the impression of the multitude; while there are (blessed be God!) a few yet to be found who are crying secretly to God, "Oh, that the people would flee from the abominations of the land to serve the living God, who will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh." We believe firmly "that the loss of life which we have been suffering is a penalty by
which Almighty wisdom punishes the delinquencies of governments and states." The Lord said unto Jeremiah, "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem ?" and it requires no stretch of imagination to compare the doings of the multitude of this land with the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. They pour out drink offerings to other gods, and burn incense unto Baal." And do we not swarm with the worshippers of Ahab's God, not merely those that openly avow themselves members of the apostate Church, but the multitudes who are burning the incense of self-righteousness, and despising the blessed anointing of the Holy Spirit? Jehovah, in his indignation against those who persist in self-sanctification, couples them with an insignificant animal, and condemns them together: "They that sanctify themselves and the mouse, shall be consumed, saith the Lord” (Isa. lxvi. 17). But while the latter, having no soul, will be annihilated, of the former it is said, "Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh." And again, "He that offereth an oblation, is as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol." Free-will and self-righteousness offered unto the Lord is undoubtedly an oblation, as if it were "swine's blood." Free grace and the righteousness of Jesus Christ, offered by faith in him, is the sweet-smelling spikenard of the anointed of the Lord, that is acceptable in his sight. If we gaze for a moment on the Continent, nations there are burning incense unto Baal, and the land is overrun with religious fanaticism. See the wretched nunneries engulphing the young of the fair sex, known to be wealthy, who are compelled to make over their property to the treasuries of the so-called religious societies, another glaring case of which has been brought to light in connection with the nunnery of St. Ursula, at Freiburg. Proof upon proof, also, we behold of the ignorance of the unhallowed priesthood. Where is the Pope? To our inquiry we are told, "Fasting for three days under the auspices of the holy dwelling of the Virgin, and compiling therein a proclamation to two faithful subjects, with those concessions which the very blessed Virgin may inspire." We were exceedingly pleased to hear since, that the papal proclamation had been torn down and besmeared with dirt, and that so generally, that not a vestige of it is to be seen anywhere.
Turn we our gaze to the sister isle, and we behold thousands of deluded devotees following blind leaders, as "their bishops and lawful representatives of the true Church of God," sucking in the poison of their scurrilous harangues with a pitiable eagerness. What saith the Scriptures concerning blind watchmen? "Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough; they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter" (Isa. lvi. 11).
Come we closer home, and the language of the good old martyr, Lawrence Saunders, is still applicable. He stated, He stated, "that the Popish doctrines that were springing up in England were a just plague for the little love the English nation bore to the blessed Word of God." Have we not depicted enough to call down the vengeance of the Most High upon the nations of the earth? But again, in comparing the inhabitants of our cities and towns with those of ages by-gone, upon whom were the judgments of the Lord on account of their iniquity, we see Sabbath
breaking denounced as a sin for which the people were punished with famine and pestilence. The language of Nehemiah so describes the state of things in the day in which we live, that one could fancy him a modern writer. He states, "In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which bought fish and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath-day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath." A few days ago, we were made to tremble from head to foot, at the announcement that a grand regatta and fête would take place at Havre, on SUNDAY, Aug. 12, 1849, at which the President of the Republic would be." Elihu asks the question, "Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked, and to princes, Ye are ungodly?" must we not reply, It is fit, if they give open proof that they are so. "He whose eyes are upon the ways of men, and who seeth all their goings, accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands." Nor is this open act of defamation confined to France; for, in connexion with the announcement before named, we read, that arrangements are made at one of our great railway stations, to convey Sabbathbreakers to the scene of this Sabbath revelry, and this when a pestilence is sweeping away thousands. With Nehemiah we exclaimed, What, will ye bring more wrath upon us by profaning the Sabbath?"
The Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, in a letter to Lord John Russell, remarks, that "when we dwell upon the awful judgments which have fallen upon our land, by the fearful pestilence which has removed thousands and tens of thousands of our fellow-countrymen, surely we must feel and exclaim our national ingratitude and sins have found us out, and the sword of the Almighty has left its scabbard to bring us to national repentance.' Amongst these national sins there are three, which, in my humble opinion, stand prominently forward.
"First. The engrossing love of filthy lucre, which has of late years so strongly characterized our country.
"Secondly. The fearful increase of the desecration of the Lord's day, by Sunday travelling, &c., and, thirdly, the awful neglect on the part of the legislature of this great country (upon which God has poured every earthly blessing), in not having long ago met the religious wants of millions of our countrymen, and in having allowed millions of our population to live and die heathens."
With regard to legislative interference in this latter matter, we must leave, but the awful desecration of the Sabbath, actually sanctioned by men in authority when it might be quelled, is dreadful indeed. We are told that on some of the public promenades of this great city, are stationed bands of musicians playing profane music on the Lord's day.
In reviewing, then, this solemn visitation, we see that it is the Lord God Almighty who hath done it, on account of the wickedness of the
people; we have beheld the nation beseeching God to pardon their manifold sins and remove the grievous disease. We have seen with heart-felt gratitude that the prayers of the righteous availed much with God, who has withdrawn this chastisement from our land, and now what we fervently desire is, that our rulers and the people may be led to see, that those national violations of the commandments of God, that are so frequently occurring, are sins which merit the wrath of the Most High, and which, if persisted in, will still cause him "to distribute sorrows among the people." Proof, indeed have we had, that it is an awful thing to cause "the Lord to open his armoury and to bring forth the weapons of his indignation." We may depend upon it, "the Redeemer is strong, the Lord of Hosts is his name," and "he will do as seemeth him good in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;" and though man may by dint of deep study and research, analyze the elements, and detect something therein prejudicial to health; after all, when they have found out the means God employs, they are as helpless as ever. And now, dear reader, what is left for us to do, to whom the promise has been fulfilled, "a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee," but give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises in in the name of the Most High, to show forth his loving-kindness in the morning, his faithfulness every night, and sing of his mercy all the day long.
October 22, 1849.
BELIEVERS NECESSARILY FRUITFUL IN GOOD WORKS.
By their fruits ye shall know them."-Matt. vii. 20.
TRUE believers cannot be hidden from the observation of those amongst whom they live. Impossible. They are described as the epistles of Christ, known and read of all men-as a city set on a hill which cannot be hid, or escape observation-as the salt of the earth, both as having savour themselves, and as preserving the world from entire moral corruption-and as light-bearers to hold forth, by their instructions and examples, the word of life to the acceptance of their fellow-men, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (2 Cor. iii. 2, 3; Matt. v. 13, 14; Phil. ii. 15, 16).
Their influence, therefore, must be both seen and felt, wherever their lot is cast. Paul styles them, the choice workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that they should walk in them (Eph. ii. 10); accordingly every professed believer in Christ who is not careful to maintain good works, demonstrates to all men that his profession consists wholly in mere words (1 John iii. 16-24; ii. 5, 6, 29). Thanks be unto God for his boundless grace, his believing children are not left to regulate their deportment by their creature counsel and strength; but the Spirit which dwells in them quickens them, and sweetly constrains them to walk according to the law of love-the law of the Spirit of life (Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27; xi. 19, 20; Jer. xxxii. 38-41; Phil. ii. 12, 13; 1 John iii. 24; iv. 13;
Eph. ii. 1, 5, 10).
Knowing that their inward tempers and outward conduct are of the greatest importance, as establishing the truth of their election of God in Christ, all true believers are most anxious to realize the fruits of believing unto life. They follow after charity or love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, in order that they may minister the same one to another, and thereby make their calling and election obvious, both to themselves and to others (1 Cor. xiv. 1; 1 Pet. iv. 10). Paul knew that the Thessalonians, to whom he wrote, were the elect of God, by the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit in their daily walk and conversation (1 Thess. i. 3, 4). Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, and walk in love, doing good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith; and then their effectual calling of God in Christ will be established beyond the shadow of a doubt (2 Tim. ii. 19; Eph. v. 2; Gal. vi. 18). Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine.
DEAR BROTHER IN THE Lord,
I wish to acknowledge, through the medium of your Magazine, should you feel inclined to insert it, the receipt of a kind Christian letter from the author of a little tract, extracted from a sermon of Dr. M'Neile's, in which there were some sentences that I could not help looking upon with a jealous eye. My kindly-spirited correspondent allows that such sentences might be misunderstood, while he fully exonerates the author of the sermon from any tendency to depreciate the divinity of our Lord, or to raise human nature above its level, in proof of which he sends the enclosed extract from the Doctor's work of "The Church and the Churches," for insertion in the Magazine, if you think proper to admit it. The opinions of a talented minister carry weight with them, and any ambiguous expressions on such important subjects are much to be deplored. My correspondent has no wish for controversy, nor have I ; and truly is it my wish to write in the same Christian spirit in which he has written. It is the cause of truth we each wish to advocate; and this should make us cautious of what we publish, and make us stand firmly against any tendency to error.
Jesus is all perfection; there was no sin in him; he was pure and undefiled, or he could not have atoned; he was one with God, or he could not have had all power in heaven and earth; he was more holy than any human being ever can be; he is all that sinners need, and sinners need no other righteousness than that of Jesus, in which they stand complete before the Father, and vain is it to go about to establish their own.
The sinner, pardoned and justified by the blood and righteousness of