« PreviousContinue »
elect's sake-the battle is the Lord's, the victory is in his holy arm, the shout of a King is in the midst of us; then "Church of God, come forward," buckle on the gospel armour, and, with prayer, brother join brother with mighty conflict; keep not silence where Israel is concerned; and it may be that Jehovah Jesus may still spare Britain, and honour her to bring home again the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah, when he is about to make them one nation on the mountains of Israel.
And now, dear shipmate, I would conclude in the words of an old Admiral of our fleet, in 1655: "Be not discouraged when you see great changes and overturnings in the world; for thereby the Lord intends not to bring all things to ruin and destruction; to leave the world without knowledge, himself without a worship, and man without a government; but hereby he will exalt the lowly, bring in a true light of understanding, be worshipped in TRUTH, and not in EMPTY FORMS, and make way for the great King (for whom the world was created) to rule the nations with righteous judgment." This is our "blessed hope," for which we look, "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus ii. 13).
Nov. 30, 1850.
Your friend, that Old Sailor,
THE TRAMORE TAR TO HIS BROTHER TAR OF DOVER,
"Though madly they dispute my will,
Whose throne is fix'd on Zion's hill,
Shall there securely reign."-Ps. ii. 6.
The Gospel craft hove in sight to-day with telegraph signal up, "Letters for Post;" and I gladly avail myself of the old plan of sending you a readymade yarn, just as we used to do in olden times, and to thank you for yours of Guy Fawkes' day; which I have read with peculiar delight, as it showed me that you have not only joined the fleet, but brought out lots of fresh provisions -bread especially, which we stand much in need of, and are on the right tack.
I agree with you that the pledge must be redeemed, or that cursed enactment of 1829 will swamp the NATION. If we have vital, godly, Christian Protestantism enough left to defeat that outrageous and most odious statute enacted against the Protestant Christianity of Britain, well and good; but I much fear our glass-houses for 1851 will draw off public attention from the enormous evil of Popery, now entered into Britain's very walls: and that after a little skirmishing in Parliament, the Act of 1829 will remain on the statute book, and no attempt will be made to drive out from amongst us the Bulls and Cardinals, and Jesuitical crew of the Pope, or our own misguided mutineers, the only plan by which the country can be saved-but as you say, the Beast's fate awaits them (Rev. xvii. and xviii.), and all who join themselves to the Beast (Rev. xix. 20), and no mistake, for God has written it by his Holy Spirit.
That Old Sailor,
No PEACE WITH ROME.
Tramore, Dec. 6, 1850.
P.S. One day's pension, with your prayers for Loochoo Mission, will be as acceptable as fifty pounds, and we shall gladly record you as an Annual Subscriber to that amount. So you may fire your swivel at the secretary at Tramore, who will stand your shot as the Purser of the "Leopard" did in the Red Sea, in bygone days of the old war, when he presented himself as a mark for the late Admiral Blanket, though I trust with less fatal consequences, if the legend be trustworthy.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my People, saith your God." "Endeavouring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace." "Jesus Christ, the same Yesterday, To-day, and for Ever. Life Eternal."
Whom to know is
No. 27. NEW SERIES.
"NOW THANKS BE UNTO GOD, WHICH ALWAYS CAUSETH US TO TRIUMPH IN CHRIST."-2 COR. II. 14.
BELOVED, we have lately been considering Faith's Claim-Faith's Confidence-Faith's Channel, and Faith's Cry; now may the Lord help us to contemplate a little, FAITH'S TRIUMPHS! And, blessed be God, it is not necessary that we should wait the dawn of an eternal day, nor a full and final freedom from "the body of this death," for so sweet an exercise. It is quite compatible with a suffering and a sorrowing state; otherwise the apostle would not have opened the epistle whence our text is taken as he did.
To any but those who are well versed in the practice, as well as the properties of faith, the language of the apostle must, to say the least, appear very paradoxical. He takes no one-sided view of matters, but gives us faithfully and fairly both sides of the question! What he was in the first Adam, and what he was in the Second; what he was as a creature in Adam earthy, and what he was as a new creature in Adam heavenly; what he was in the flesh, and what in the Spirit. Moreover, he testifies, and that most unequivocally, what were the trials and the temptations inseparable from the one, as well as what were the triumphs equally inseparable from the other. Thus the apostle was what every soul born from above is, a compound being, living as it were in a compound or twofold state. He was dead, and yet alive; lost, but found; a sinner, and yet without sin; defiled from head to foot, and yet not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; groaning from day to day, being burdened, and yet exclaiming, in the words of our text, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ."
Beloved, do you know anything practically and personally of these Divine realities? 1
That the apostle did, we repeat, there is the fullest evidence. to his own testimony, in the fourth chapter of this same epistle, troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in
despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body; for we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesu's sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
Moreover, he goes on to testify, that the very expounding of these mysteries-the proclamation of these facts-as realized day by day, in bitter yet blessed experience, tended to the establishing, confirming, and real spiritual well-being of those he addressed. "So then death," he adds, "worketh in me, but life in you." Or in other words, that the explanation or unfolding of this life of faith, tends under the operation of that self-same Spirit, which abides in your hearts as well as ours, to strengthen, stablish, settle you, in the assurance as to what you are, where you are, whence you have journeyed, and whither you are bound. "We have the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, 'I believed, and therefore have I spoken.'" Here is his appeal to the Old-Testament Scriptures, showing the blessed analogy of faith between the saints of olden day and the saints of his day. This golden chain of salvation, forged by the joint hand of a covenant Three-One Jehovah, had passed on from Adam down through generation after generation, until we behold its blessed links embracing in our own times each object of covenant love, uniting them in the same bonds of brotherhood; and affording them a family interest, a faith's participation, a holy and happy familiarity with unseen and eternal things. "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us WITH YOU." Here is a covenant Headship, the Lord Jesus; a covenant hand, God our Father raising us in and by Christ; and a covenant household, "us with you :" that is, Paul and Timothy, with the Church in Corinth, the saints in Achai, and all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. [See the introduction to both epistles.]
Beloved, do you feel the blessedness of the covenant oneness and the identity of interest between Jehovah and his dear Church and people in every age?
The apostle proceeds, "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [ah, but for a moment contrasted with an eternity of bliss!] worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (See 1 Cor. iv. last 11 verses.)
Who but a partaker of "like precious faith" with the apostle, could understand these statements? yet these are the mysteries on which Faith dwells, and delights to dwell, and wherein she at once glorifies her Divine Author, and brings peace to her privileged possessor.
The apostle opens this epistle in a very similar strain. And we pray the reader, whilst referring to his heart-warming salutation, to observe particularly the order of the language. He is commissioned by the Holy Ghost in the second verse to say, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God
our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." This same course the apostle has adopted in other of his epistles, to impress upon the Church this one essential and soul-cheering fact, that grace in its bestowment has the priority of peace. A poor soul may have GRACE, and yet be destitute of peace. Nay, it is the very possession of grace that causes him earnestly to long, and as ardently to plead for peace. Let not such" despise the day of small things;" but contrariwise, may God the Holy Ghost give them to plead his convicting power as the very why and wherefore that they should be led into the enjoyment of his consoling power. For as a deep sensibility of sin evidences the Spirit's work, so does it also equally evidence that soul's claim-[with reverence we speak it]-to the revelation of Christ as its salvation!" The Comforter" was that high and holy name, and official character in which our adorable Christ repeatedly spoke of and promised Him; and it is every sin-convinced soul's privilege to plead, to know, and enjoy Him as such.
Glance for a moment, beloved, before we pass on, at another glorious feature in this sweet salutation of the apostle. As if reluctant to leave the contemplation of the dear truth that there was one common interest and identity between God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the one Church of the redeemed, he twice introduces their names, and then appends a new and very blessed title, "the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort." There is an unspeakably blessed fulness, preciousness, and power, in the very contemplation of these characteristics of our gracious God and Father in Christ. The Father-the begetter, the fountain-head, the eternal source of those every-day and all-the-day mercies which we, both in providence and grace, enjoy. How blessed to trace all up to Him! And how well, beloved, if upon every mercy, whether temporal or spiritual, we are enabled to trace our Father's royal signet-the broad seal of covenant love-affixed thereto and stamped thereupon! And how blessed if enabled to contemplate each and every such mercy as a lovetoken-a renewed proof that our Father's eye, and our Father's heart, are fixed upon us; yea, so everlastingly and so uninterruptedly, that neither sin, Satan, nor self, perplexity, privation, nor pain, from whatever channel or whatever cause, can possibly divert that heart and that eye, so as to
"Make Him his promise forego,
And as He is the "Father of mercies" so is He the "God of all comfort;" and what a mercy, beloved, to fetch all our comfort from Him!— What a mercy-think it not strange if we say so-if the Lord dries up every other source and stream of comfort, in order that you may seek it in Himself, and in Himself alone! Barren frames, barren ordinances, barren readings, barren prayings, barren friends, barren all and everything, are "blessings in disguise," in proportion as they lead us to distrust self and the creature, and cause us experimentally to know and acknowledge, "All our springs are in thee !" "The God of all comfort;" and may we not, beloved, with propriety transpose the words, and say, " The God of comfort in all?" for verily such is the fact. There is not a difficulty nor a danger-neither sorrow nor suffering-wherein He cannot, and wherein He does not prove Himself to be all, and more than all, that we can possibly need. Insomuch that we can glorify him in the fires," and exclaim when everything humanly appears to be making against us, "It is well."
Yea, such are those blessed " "triumphs" into which the Lord's dear people are led, in the midst of their intensest creature-woes, that they can gaze with perfect complacency upon the destruction of property, or the defeat of plans-the removal of friends or the reproach of foes-and exclaim, with holy Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." * "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
Furthermore, the apostle adds of this Father of mercies and God of all comfort, "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Thus it would appear, that not only for the apostles' own sakes, but that they might bear an experimental testimony to others, they were personally instructed in the knowledge and enjoyment of the mighty grace, power, and condescension of Jehovah in affliction. In the 6th verse he expressly says, "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation." This language is confirmed by the apostle John, in the opening of his first General Epistle, where he speaks of "declaring" that "which he had heard, which he had seen with his eyes, which he had looked upon, and his hands had handled of the word of life." This is what we understand by experimental knowledge and experimental teaching, without which a teacher or a preacher is like a pilot, who undertakes to steer a ship into port through a difficult navigation, but who, notwithstanding his knowledge of the chart, has never boxed a compass," or previously placed a foot on shipboard.
Moreover, not only by the covenant promise of a covenant Jehovah was the apostle assured that as the Corinthians were partakers of the sufferings, they should be also of the consolation," but this conviction was also based upon his own personal experience, that "as the sufferings of Christ had abounded in him, so had his consolation also abounded by Christ."
Thus did the apostle enjoy a two-fold mercy; first, the personal or experimental knowledge; and, secondly, the undoubted conviction that the Lord was causing his trials and his afflictions to subserve his holy purpose in the prosperity and well-being of his Church. A mercy, beloved, of no trifling importance. And if the apostle could rejoice in the fact, so may you, in your measure and degree also, if blessed with the evidence that the Lord is causing your trials and your afflictions to operate for the welfare of his dear people. Be it yours to consider that precious portion (Phil. i. 29), "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but to suffer for his sake." And though the sufferings may be of the keenest kind, yet they shall issue in inconceivable satisfaction and delight, if the Lord is but thus graciously employing them.
But we must come more immediately to the words of our text, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." The apostle had been speaking at some length of his sufferings. He tells us that he had recently been "pressed out of measure above strength, insomuch that he had despaired even of life;" and again that "out of much affliction and anguish of heart he had written his previous epistle, with many tears;" and, as we before remarked, that even now he was "troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down ;" and