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FEEBLE CHRISTIAN'S SUPPORT.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”-Matt. v. 6.
“ Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”—2 Tim. i. 9.
“ The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”—Rom. xi. 7.
“If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.-In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."-Acts viii. 37, 386 Matt. xxviii. 19.
ADDRESS TO OUR READERS.
na If, as the New Year came round, it brought with it new topics, it would render our annual task of addressing our Readers less difficult. But we have no new doctrines, new views, or new opinions to lay before them; in a word, 'no Novelties of the season” to entertain them with.
Our desire and aim is to stand in the good old ways, and contend for the power and experience of those truths which are revealed in the Scriptures for the edification and consolation of the church, and which ever have been, and ever will be, dear to the hearts of those who are taught of God. The truths of the everlasting Gospel are dear to us—increasingly dear; and we cannot, dare not, tamper with them, conceal them, or deal deceitfully with them.
But because the truths for which we contend are old in them. selves, it does not thence follow that they are always old to us. In this lies much of the sweetness and blessedness of gospel truth, when experimentally made known to the soul. A round of ever-recurring duties must soon be irksome to the most zealous Pharisee; one unvaried chime upon the free-will bells must, after a time, weary the most determined Arminian; and a dry repetition of “ the five points,” Sunday after Sunday, is enough, we should think, to wear
out the patience of the most inveterate dead Calvinist. But in the case of the living family, Truth, when accompanied by a divine unction to the soul, neither wearies nor cloys. As food is ever grateful to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, rest to the weary, shelter to the houseless, and ease to those racked with pain, so truth from God's own lips must ever be precious to those who need a divine revelation to their souls. Does the hungry reject the bread because cut from yesterday's loaf, or the thirsty turn away from the time-worn well, or the weary refuse to cast his limbs on the oft-pressed bed, or the shelterless object to the proffered hospitality of the ivy-grown cottage, or the rheumatic despise an old remedy? To all these the old becomes new, because it brings relief. And is it not so spiritually ?
“ He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. xxi. 5.) “ It shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary." (Ezek. xlvii. 12.) As the family of God are brought into new trials, new straits, and new troubles, old truths, truths older than the world, are made new to them. Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" and his word, his blood, his righteousness, his grace, and his love are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever too.
We can promise, then, our Readers no novelties for the coming year. We have no new light upon prophecy to bring forward, no recent scheme to reconcile free will and free grace, no patented project to unite church and chapel, no fresh invention to make religion easy, no hitherto-unheard-of plan to widen the narrow way, or to prove the truth of a late discovery that the gate is not strait of itself, but that men make it so.
All novelties in religion we consider as delusions, mere meteors, that blaze their little hour and then die away in the blackest night, and therefore utterly distinct from the path of the just, which, as the shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Our grand object and single aim is that by our publication God may be glorified, and his church edified. We therefore wish to discard everything that does not tend to this point. Nor, through mercy, are we ignorant how this may be aimed at, if not attained. We are not sailing on a wide sea, ignorant of our course, or of the point to which we are tending. We are not running after a vague generality called “religion," without knowing what it is, and so fighting as one that beateth the air. We know that the only thing worth the name of religion is the life of God in the soul. And we know that this inward and divine life is commenced, carried on, and completed wholly and solely by the power of God. Whatever, then, does not bear the impress of this power we reject, as being confident it is utterly useless to the point we have in view the glory of God in the edification of his people. Whatever is stamped with this divine savour and power we admit as a message from God. However we may err in its application, this is the principle which decides our selection and determines our judgment. This is the test by which we try, or attempt to try, the pieces sent for insertion; and in this balance do we weigh, or endeavour to weigh, the books that we review.
In this divine savour and power, with which we desire to see our pages impregnated, there are, doubtless, degrees. As in the natural, so in the spiritual dew there will be a varying amount of deposition from the faintest trace of moisture to a copious shower.
In the salt with which the Priest sprinkled the offering, and without which there was no true sacrifice, (Lev. ii. 13; Mark ix. 49,) there were, doubtless, portions of the oblation on which but a few grains, and others on which a more copious shower might fall; and yet every part which the salt touched was “a sweet savour unto the Lord.” And so with respect to the spiritual salt, with which we desire all our communications to be seasoned, there will be, doubtless, some pages barely removed by a few grains from the tastelessness of the white of an egg, (Job vi. 6,) and others more nearly approaching that meat which the old Patriarch loved. (Gen. xxvii. 4.) But the utterly saltless we reject as fit only for the dunghill.
As, however, in the ordinance of preaching, the ministry of the sent servants of God, there are different degrees of unction and power, so in communications that spring from the pen of living souls there will be different degrees of life and feeling. But
we would not sit under a ministry in which there was no salt, so we would not willingly admit into our pages communications totally devoid of spiritual flavour. And if we are asked how we can distinguish such pieces, or if we are accused of presumption in setting up our judgment, we must reply, “ In tasting natural food, how do you know whether there is salt in it?” And if the answer be, “By our natural taste," may not we rejoin, with equal truth, “ By our spiritual taste ?» If the God of creation has given you a natural palate to distinguish seasoned from unseasoned, savoury from unsavoury food, why should not the God of all grace
have given us a spiritual palate to discriminate between heavenly and earthly provision? The new man of grace has the members of a perfect body-eyes to see truth from error, ears to hear the voice of the Son of God, (John v. 25; x. 27,) hands to take hold of God's strength, (Isa. xxvii. 5,) feet to run with patience the race set before us, a nose to smell the name of Jesus like the ointment poured forth—and why not a tongue and palate to taste and relish the seasoned and savoury food of the gospel ? For if the ear trieth words, why should not the mouth taste meat? (Job xxxiv. 3.)
But it may, and probably will, be said that we thereby set ourselves up as judges of what is spiritual and what is not. To which we reply, “We certainly do.” And do not all Editors set up their judgment in their several ways ? If an Arminian Editor admits free will and rejects free grace, and if a Calvinistic Editor admits free grace and rejects free will, do not they constitute themselves judges of the one from the other? And why should not experimental Editors enjoy the same liberty, and be similarly allowed to exercise a right of judgment between the spirit and the letter, the form and the power? Some right and exercise of judgment is inseparable from the office of an Editor. He may indeed be an incompetent judge, or a dishonest one,—unable to form a right opinion, or afraid to pronounce a just one. Our incompetency we are, to a certain extent, willing to admit; our dishonesty, never.
As Editors, then, of a professedly experimental publication, our alternative is either to lay down our office as incompetent, or to exercise our judgment, such as it is, upon
and savour of works and communications submitted to us. Could we see our way to do the former, it would be a joyful day to us; for what mostly do we reap as the fruit of our editorial labours? Weariness of body and anxiety of mind. It is no slight bodily task to read communications, and write Reviews. And as to anxiety of mind, the care and responsibility of a publication so widely circulated among the people of God cannot be small. If we would exercise honestly our own judgment, we must create to ourselves constant sources of pain. To be honest is to raise up powerful and bitter enemies, often to wound and alienate friends, to create jealousies and envyings, to make ourselves a mark for arrows of slander and reproach, to sharpen men's eyes to our own failings and short comings, and to stand in that painful, isolated spot where one is more feared than loved. As Editors, we are professedly judges of others; and we need not say how this draws the eyes of men to every failing or mark of
incompetency, and through what a magnifying glass wounded selflove views every blemish in the hand that hurts it. and painfully feel our incompetency. We see that we have said rash things, formed mistaken judgments, and, meaning right, have done what is wrong. “Why not, then," suggests some reader, “ lay down your office?" Will you, Mr. Objector, undertake it? If
you say, “Yes,” our Readers might wish some proof that you are competent for the office, and might consider your readiness to undertake it not the most decided proof of your competency. And if you say, “No," we must still bear the burden till abler shoulders come forward to relieve us. But, as our Periodical enjoys a wide circulation, and, we trust, some acceptance among the family of God, we cannot hastily lay down our office, or embrace the first offer of relief, lest, by too great a desire to ease our own shoulders, we should transfer our load to a back that might break down under it.
Until, then, this desirable time arrive, when we can resign our charge into hands which have not only our confidence, but that of our Readers, (for both parties must be consulted in this matter,) we hope, with God's blessing, to continue our editorial labours.
Our aim and object are more certain and definite than the means of attaining them. In this we resemble all God's people, and more especially God's sent servants. Their aim and desire, so far as they have the mind of Christ, are clear and simple—the glory of God, and the profit of his people. But they and we find, with the Apostle, “ The good that I would, I do not.” They and we are dependant on Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. As they may preach, but not profitably, unless the Lord preach by them; so we and our correspondents may write, but it will not profit God's people, unless he write by us. All our springs are in Him. Every particle of wisdom must come down from the Father of lights into our heart; every door of utterance be opened by him; every gracious feeling be communicated out of him; and all power, dew, unction, and savour, must freely flow out of His fulness who filleth all in all.
Let those, then, who see with us eye to eye in this matter, whose hearts respond to ours, and are joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment,” (1 Cor. i. 10,) lend us what aid they can. Let them send us letters, or other communications, that have been blessed to their souls; let them, in what they feel led to write themselves, have some inward testimony that it is penned under