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To the Lord's eternally-loved and everlastingly-redeemed Family, the chosen and adopted Sons and Daughters of the Lord God Almighty.
Once more we greet you in the name, and as fellow-partakers of the grace, of our Triune Jehovah. Another twelve-months have been struck off the score, and we are a whole year nearer home, blessed be our God! What a mercy to think that there is not one of the trials nor temptations which have studded the year, to be encountered again! Fresh there may be, but never-no never-the same!
Beloved, it is unspeakably blessed year by year to look back, and contemplate the "Lord's faithfulness. If under Divine teaching, you, with ourselves, cannot, dare not, view with complacency a single act of your Sin, and infirmity, and short-coming are stamped upon all creature acts and performances. Not a day has there been, not an hour, nor a moment of either the year that is now closing, or of any or all the years of our pilgrimage, but that has had sIN inscribed upon it. "Few and evil have the days of the years of our lives been." So that, in the retrospect we have need to blush in the dust of deepest self-abasement, and to admire and adore that Divine forbearance which hath so long borne with our manners in the wilderness. But how blessed to trace throughout the whole that stream of mercy-that vein of covenant faithfulness, which has marked our career year by year, month by month, moment by moment! So true has our covenant God and Father been to his promise, concerning his Church, "I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day," that we feel it in our hearts to magnify his great name, and to say with the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine
iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercy; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." Here is the Psalmist's record of daily mercies; he speaks in the present tense, as denoting the continuous fatherly actings of a covenant God. And how sweet, beloved, is the contemplation of the fact, that the vicissitudes, the difficulties, the apparent dangers which mark the revolutions of the days, and weeks, and months, of the year, are but so many means which the Lord employs for the exercise of that wisdom, grace, and love, of which the Psalmist would here testify.
And, we pray you, observe the singular contrast-that the Lord's wisdom stands as a blessed set off against your folly; his strength against your weakness; his righteousness against your unrighteousness; his blood against your guilt; his eternal imperishable life against that ever-constant death which you feel working in your memThus stand Christ in all he is, and the creature in all he wants, in juxta-position! The misery of the one makes way for the display of the mercy of the other. Therefore, what a privilege to be a sinner, in order thus experimentally to know, and enjoy such a Saviour. Surely, it was this reckoning up of matters between God and conscience, this striking the balance between a precious Christ on the one hand, and himself a poor guilty, needy sinner, on the other, that enabled the apostle to arrive at the sum total, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Beloved, we know it were almost impossible for you to look back without frail nature writhing under the remembrance of some of those agonizing scenes through which you have been called to pass; the cutting off of a right hand, and the plucking out of a right eye; the losses, crosses, bereavements, and what not, have all been mortifying to the flesh, and thus and thus was it to be crucified; but, beloved, has it not been the province of faith, and its privilege also, to triumph over all? and cannot you say by faith, and independently of the flesh (which has no voice in the matter), "He hath done all things well; He hath led me by a right way, that I may go to a city of habitation?" Notwithstanding all your losses, in reality "lacked ye anything?" "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" All was the Lord's property, and but for a season lent, to be withdrawn at pleasure. But, if withdrawn, has be any the more been "a wilderness, or a land of darkness?" Never, never, blessed be his name! "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
With this acknowledgment, then, in reference to the past, what may
you not say with respect to the present or the future? "He hath delivered, he doth deliver, and in whom our hope is he will yet deliver." You are sustained, upheld, supported, at the present moment, be your trials, temptations, sorrows, afflictions, what they may. Underneath are the everlasting arms; otherwise you would sink beneath the pressure. Another ounce weight of trial without additional strength to bear it, and we will admit, for argument's sake, you would be overwhelmed; but the experience of the past, and Jehovah's covenant engagement, that "he will not lay upon you more than you are able to bear," is your Divine warrant for repelling either a tempting devil, or an unbelieving heart, with a "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." how sweet is the consideration, that
We are wanderers in a wilderness, truly, but yet our Jesus, Husband, Friend, Portion is with us, absolutely so; yea, as much in reality, in his divine personality, as He ever will be, for, as God, he is not confined to glory, but everywhere present. His parting promise was, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Again, as "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," He is of necessity with us, for" as He is so are we in this world." Dying, and going to heaven, will never unite us to Jesus; it may confirm the union, but in this sense it will do nothing more. How cheering, then, the consideration, that though exiles and pilgrims, and molested with foes, internal, external, and infernal, that yet we are safe-perfectly safe.
"More happy, but not more secure,
"Your life is hid with Christ in God," and whoso toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye." "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" said Elisha's servant to his master, when the city was compassed about by the Syrian host with horses and chariots. "Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young
man and he saw, and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." Poor little trembling reader, if the Lord has put his fear into thy heart, thou art as much loved by Jehovah, and consequently as much encompassed with his shield and protection, as was Elisha. He had no more love for, and consequently took no greater care of, Elisha than of the veriest weakling in the fold.
But again, suppose, beloved, your afflictions or sorrows should multiply to an extent beyond either the power of nature to sustain, or the
pleasure of the Lord to communicate strength to bear, how readily might the Lord forego the need of that strength, by transplanting you from the wilderness below to the paradise above. How speedily might Israel's desertwanderings have been cut short, and how easily, had Jehovah willed it, might they have been planted in the promised land; and so with every true Israelite now! "I am, through mercy," writes one of our oldest correspondents, dated Bath, Oct. 16, "pretty well—have been DREADING a return of my painful attacks."* She is now (as will be seen by the account given in page 621) spending her first Sabbath in heaven!
Beloved, how soon-yea, at any moment-may the Lord say, "Come up higher!" Be, therefore, upon the look out, with lamps ready and loins girt, as those who wait for their Master's coming.
"A few more rolling suns, at most,
Let the contemplation of this delightful fact be a stimulus that you should seek to be " at peace among yourselves." "See that ye fall not out by the way." Ye are brethren; love as such. Bear and forbear. Differ, and agree to differ, where non-essentials are concerned.
And now, in conclusion, we would say, Brethren, pray for us." We value the prayers of God's dear wrestling children beyond what we can express. That he should have made our feeble services in the GOSPEL MAGAZINE so long acceptable to you, its readers, calls for our liveliest gratitude; instrumentally we attribute the prolongation of our labours to the divine breathings which the Lord the Spirit is pleased to awaken in many a heart. We should deem it a sorry sign for this work, were the hearts of its readers closed, and the breath of prayer to cease. We should fear that "Ichabod" would speedily be inscribed upon its pages. May Jehovah, of his great mercy, avert it. Of the imperfection that is stamped upon our labours, perhaps none are more conscious than ourselves. We could say much upon this head, but we forbear. "The heart knoweth its own bitterness." But this we say, if LOVE be not our watch-word, if the unction, dew, and power of the Spirit flow not with our pen, the Lord blot out our name as
Bonmahon, Ireland, Sabbath Evening, Oct. 9, 1851.
• Nervous depression.