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unto them that they are under his peculiar care; that they are in his enclosure; that they belong to his garden, and are justified from all their sins-sanctified unto himself-enclosed from the world-unknown as to their spiritual state by the world—“ Hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 8). They are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, so enclosed-so preserved, that not any can pluck them out of Jesus' hand (John x. 29), though enemies without, and the lurking foe within, may attempt to destroy, or, where they cannot destroy, to ensnare them. The storms may roar, and floods often threaten destruction; yet all is safely guarded by Omnipotent power. O, my God, what a mercy! And while poor believers often tremble for their individual safety, and are sometimes shaken as to the Church, the garden itself, their Lord, by the precious names he calls them, reminds them of his covenant love, and thereby of their safety. "My sister"-reminding them of their relationship to Jesus, their gracious Brother, who gave up himself for them, and "by one offering hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. x. 14). "My spouse"-reminding them that the Lord is their Husband; and that as such he loves them, protects them, and provides for them; whilst the precious word "my" gives them a blessed proof that he does indeed consider them as his own-secured by oath-covenant oath-promises and blood; Christ himself promising, "I will never leave thee; I will never forsake thee."
And is this, precious believer, thy lot? Oh, east away thy unbelieving fears, knowing that it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure, and will and does protect you according to his invaluable promises in Christ Jesus.
We are now come to the latter part of the Book of Job (xxxviii. 2). Human speeches are but useless; and so the Lord himself takes upon hiin to question Job, who had answers ready for others; but, when brought into close communion with his God, had not a word to utter. Dear Lord, what a mercy, my God, Job belonged to the family; "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Yet he was humbled before the Almighty Speaker. The Lord spoke to him out of the whirlwind's powerful voice, and confounds Job (as it would every one), calling upon Job to account for things ere he was born, and showing him, by almost every question, man's ignorance. All, all is filled with God; but what are we, poor creatures, when the Lord questions us respecting his own doings and ways? It is not that the Lord intends or endeavours to defend his doings by sending heavy afflictions upon his dear children. It would not do for the Lord thus to act. No! without this, he proves to Job that his Almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, even in the guiding of lifeless creatures, is so brilliant, that reasonable man, and, above all, those who love him, have every reason to acknowledge their shortsightedness, and to submit to him in all their ways with holy confidence, calmly and submissively, knowing that he who gave his only Son for them shall not, cannot withhold from them whatever is needful. Poor creature, thou who tremblest at the sight of the Lord's hand, how little does it become thee to raise thyself against the Lord thy Creator, and darken his deeds by vain and useless words!
Very suited, indeed, were the speeches of the Eternal Jehovah to silence the cavillers against God's providence; indeed, from such things as this reasoning brings before us, we have first to adore the Lord as the Creator of all, who with his creature can and does act in all things as his
Omnipotence willeth; he who best knows what degrees of prosperity or adversity they most need; whose comprehensive power has arranged the chain of all things according in the best order an order, to find fault with which would be the most supreme arrogancy; who, indeed, has, by this very act of creation, united himself to the creature, to love it, and to cause everything-yea, even the greatest adversity, to stand in the most sublime salvation. Again, when we consider that every example which God has chosen to bring forth to Job, is taken out of the lifeless or irrational creation, would he, who takes such amazing care of these lifeless creatures, take pleasure in teazing a creature so nobly framed as man is? Would he not rather care for a being which, considering his reasonable powers, however low in comparison to supreme beings, yet far excelling the great and terrible creature, and is far beyond the immeasurable and most delightful of the heavenly luminaries?
Again, we see, in such a view as we have entered into, the most visible power of God's infinite wisdom and kindness; yea, we behold his almighty power actively employed towards the whole of nature. An omnipotence which was not too great to bring forth everything by an almighty nod-who ruleth the thunder and lightning when and where he pleaseth-who ruleth the band of Orion-who knoweth how to bring into subjection those he has formed, even animals, as the elephant and crocodile, to his will and power, and prescribes his rules to heaven, earth, and sea. We see afterwards the plainest marks of his inscrutable wisdom in the concordance of his works, in the beauty of his union, in the laws which he affords, and whereby he rules them. We find, at last, the clearest tokens of his infinite goodness impressed upon all his works, especially in the care whereby he provides for all things, even providing food for every creature; yea, even for those creatures who, by their nature and dwelling, seem least capable to take care of themselves. Such thoughts must find, in a God-fearing man, as Job was, a fixed ground; and that not to cavil with Jehovah's all-wise providences, but, on the contrary, to submit, with tokens of the most sublime astonishment, and gives to every child of God the strongest support for confidence. He will then perceive, that even the afflictions with which the Lord visits him are not tokens of a voluntary will, but flow from infinite love, wisdom, and goodness; then were, indeed, all his wrong thoughts, and murmurings against his will, a confirmed and punishable denial of these his perfections, but it belonged to every God-loving creature, how unpleasant it might appear to him, and whatever contradictions his short-sighted views might afford him, completely to rest, and to take the deepest shame of all his wrong thoughts concerning God's ways, and all the murmurings against God's will. How can vain man boast of beauty or swiftness, when one single animal can excel him? Yet if my Lord comes for them, and feeds them, will his redeemed ones ever want? No, blessed be his name, Jesus, in his precious love and fulness, takes care of me and of my concerns, both for time and for eternity; and however much a believer may, at times, feel inclined to wander from God, yet one season of communion with God in Christ will humble the poor soul, and lay him where he should be, and lead him to cry out with Job, "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." This, this, my beloved fellowpilgrim, is the right place for a disciple of Jesus; and it will become a very blessed place when we ask for answers to our inquiries, and lay
lowly before him, expecting every mercy from his almighty power, and receive by faith in Christ every blessing for time and for eternity. When our Father draws the poor child by his blessed Spirit, he leads him on by ways which he knew not, to the praise of God's redeeming love, and thus humbled by his power, he forgives, he pardons, and shows unto them that they are more than conquerors through him that loved them, vile and unworthy though they be in themselves, yet perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. How full, how perfectly, does the Lord prove the truth of his description of Job's character." Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause (Job ii. 3). The Lord knew him as perfect in Christ, though he might fall, and did fall, in himself, proving but the truth of Rom. vii. 25, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." Little, very little, did Job at times, remember the precious words, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities: and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea (Micah vii. 18, 19).
What a blessing to know, that the most minute circumstances of our lives are all directed by the overruling providence of God. However uncertain our steps may appear to be, all is from God; and well might Job say, "When I looked for good, then evil came unto me; and when I waited for light, then came darkness." Yet the Lord was in all this, and nothing could prevent his ways working together for the good of Job. Well, and what was the end of all these trials which we have seen Job under? (see it, Job xlii. 7, 8). What a word, ver. 9, "the Lord also accepted Job." Oft I have felt, whilst reading or writing, "Dear Job, I wish you did not speak thus of our covenant God;" but my thoughts are not as God's thoughts; yea, yea, the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. What a mercy to have a praying friend, a friend brought low by the power of God, for nothing else can do it but this; blessed be God, he can do who doeth all things well, and all in sovereign love for the dear Job's sake.
How wonderful, how remarkable, that all Job's brothers and sisters, and all that had been of his acquaintance before, should come and eat bread with him in his house. Oh, yes, let but the Lord turn the captivity of any of his blood-bought sheep, let it be known among the brethren, soon we'll see God's love to them manifested, and pity from the brethren be shown. But here the Lord imparted to him earthly things; yea, all things should be given unto Job for God's own promise sake, more even, yea, double, than he had before. He also was favoured with a comely young family, fair and becoming. The Lord even kept him alive until the fourth generation." So Job died, being old and full of days." Thus we see the end of his earthly life; but there is a blessedness reserved for him, with all God's blood-bought family-a glory unsearchable-a glory in Christ; he kept a place for him, and Job found it so; and every redeemed child, resting upon the word of our gracious
God, shall find that his promises are true and full in Christ Jesus, to the praise and the glory of God.
We might look at Job as a type of Jesus, but, blessed be his name, we have the glorious Redeemer as our Covenant Head for ever living, glory be to our God for this mercy, Oh, that each of us, beloved pilgrims, may have grace given us to be looking in faith to our covenant God, and trusting in him for all we need. May we so trust in the Lord as to find the words of Job, in the 19th chapter, true in our own experience, "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" and as being assured that the Lord, in his own way, will bring every redeemed soul, however low he may be brought on earth, to the glory of the Lamb hereafter.
Once more, my beloved pilgrims, farewell. May the Lord guide and bless you, and lead us each to his precious covenant love, there to find all we need for time and for eternity. Amen.
AN OLD PILGRIM.
AN ALPHABET OF CHRIST,
FOR THE USE OF BABES IN GRACE.
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord."
REV. i. 8.
(Continued from page 579, vol. x.)
D. A Drawing Christ for drowning souls, Every unregenerate sinner may be said to be in a drowning condition. He is sinking into a deep, a bottomless ocean-the ocean of God's eternal wrath. "Oh, the wrath of God! the wrath of God! the wrath of God! that dreadful ocean Into which every Christless soul must sink for ever; how shall I escape it?" Reader, is such the language of your heart? Then I have "strong consolation" for you. Christ is an ark which can bear you safely over this awful sea; if the golden chains of His covenant love and faithfulness are about you, you shall, yea, you can, never sink beneath the dark billows of Jehovah's wrath. God's very nature renders it an impossibility. Hast thou ever cried to Jesus "out of the depths?" Hast thou ever been brought to his feet with a "Lord, save me, or I perish?" Can you say, "As the heart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God?" (Ps. xlii. 1). Oh, then, you shall never perish, for be assured none ever came to Jesus who were not drawn by Jesus (see Hos. xi. 3, 4; Song i. 4; John vi. 44; and xii. 32). None ever really cried to him but in answer to his gracious call (see Job xiv. 15; Isa. lxv. 24). For, as the magnet attracts nothing but what is iron to itself, so Christ attracts none but those who are drawn to him by his own Spirit. We read that Samuel called on the Lord, but it was not till after the Lord had called Samuel (see 1 Sam. iii. 1-10; vii. 9; and Ps. xcix. 6). But you ask, "What is it to be called?" Beloved, I will tell you what it is not, and endeavour to point out some few evidences which, with God's help and blessing, may enable you to determine whether you are
among the called. But to describe accurately, or even intelligibly, the act of the Spirit in calling the elect, or how that act is performed, is simply impossible; I might as well attempt to paint the wind. It can only be known by being felt, and none but those who have experienced it in their own souls can form the remotest idea of what it really is. As our Lord said to Nicodemus, "The wind bloweth where it listeth; and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John iii. 8). For a blind man is not more ignorant of colours than the natural man is of the work of the Spirit in the believer's heart. As it is written, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. ii. 14). First, then, the call of God is no mere fantastic notion, or enthusiastic fancy; neither is it any miraculous sign, audible voice, or supernatural vision, such as too many, even of God's own dear children, have sometimes deceived themselves with; and which, so far from being the operations of God's Spirit, have, I much fear, been too often the delusions of the devil. Oh! beloved, I solemnly warn you not to rest for a moment on any such rotten foundations as these; do not rest upon anything short of Christ, or anything but Christ, as you value your soul's
peace. "To the law and to the testimony; "whatever agrees not with
that word has no truth in it. It may be called philosophy, or it may be called science, or it may be called experience, but whatever it is, or whatever it may be called, though positively asserted by the most learned, the wisest, and the most holy men; ah, though uttered by an angel's lips, if it agrees not with God's revealed word, the test and standard of all spiritual truth, it is but "a lie at best." Now, in the 10th chapter of Romans, and at the 17th verse, we read that" Faith cometh (not by sign, or vision, or dream, but) by hearing, and hearing (not by any audible voice, but) by the word of God." And again, in the first chapter of the first epistle of Peter, at the 23rd verse, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." And to these agree the words of St. James, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (James i. 18). Beloved, the present is not an age of miracles; there is no "open vision," or immediate inspiration during the present dispensation; and the only instrument which the Lord the Spirit is pleased to use in bringing God's predestinated children to the saving knowledge of him, is the truth of his holy word, which is hence termed in Scripture, "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. vi. 17); and every truly enlightened and regenerate soul can take up the language of the son of Jesse and say, " Thy word hath quickened me" (Ps. cxix. 50). And hence there is no authentic instance on record of a heathen having been made wise unto salvation without having heard the gospel. But while I contend that the word is the great instrument of conversion, far be it from me to restrict or limit the power of the eternal Spirit, who, though spoken of as being "sent" by the Lord Jesus Christ (see John xiv. 26; xv. 26; Gal. iv. 6, &c.), still, as a Sovereign, works how, and when, and where he pleases; and who might, undoubtedly, have used other instruments to effect his purposes of mercy had it not been his sovereign will and pleasure to choose it in preference to, and to the exclusion of all others. More over, the Spirit uses and applies the word at sundry times, in diverse manners, and under an infinite variety of circumstances. Yes, various