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the teaching and unction of the Lord the Spirit; and knowing their own barrenness and darkness, when destitute of his felt operations, let them bear with what carnality they see in us.
We have erred, and shall doubtless err again; but if our Readers believe that we are sincerely desirous of God's glory and the good of his people, they will bear with that weakness of the flesh in us, of which they see and feel so much in themselves.
We therefore desire to commend our little work to the blessing of a Triune God, and, in his name and strength, to continue our labours for the profit of his chosen, redeemed, and sanctified family.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT IN WORD, BUT
There is a power in divine religion which, however it may be denied and ridiculed, compels even its enemies to bear testimony to its reality. Those who possess this heavenly gift are often unconscious of the effects which are produced by their words and actions when under its manifested influence. Enmity and persecution awake and rise up against them as soon as it becomes evident that their faith stands not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. Many are awed and fettered in their minds at its appearance wbo have not the honesty to confess that it has any effect upon them. Their opposition to those who are the partakers of it is a bold and desperate pushing against inward conviction and checks of conscience; but, as they know that no human eye can penetrate into the secrets of their breasts, they disguise their feelings and appear courageous, though their hearts, like Nabal's, die within them, and they become as a stone. (1 Sam. xxv. 37.) There are others who, notwithstanding their hatred to the power of God, cannot disguise the fact of their being sensibly awed thereby. Saul, therefore, on certain occasions, bowed before Samuel and David, and confessed this power of God in them; Ahab humbled himself at its appearance in Elijah; Herod feared John, feeling him to be a partaker of it; and Felix trembled as Paul “reasoned of temperance, righteousness, and judgment to come;" each bearing testimony that the power of God makes those who are among the living in Jerusalem” « terrible as an army with banners.”
The people of God, in their intercourse with one another, communicate and receive the benefit of this inestimable blessing, and are thus declared to be “the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Cor. xii. 27.) By this they refresh, comfort, edify, strengthen, admonish, exhort, and reprove each other; so that “the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary."
(1 Cor. xii. 21, 22.) The continual absence of this power in a professor of
religion proclaims aloud his lack of divine teaching, and shows him to be as yet in the sepulchre, numbered among the dead. Whatever is devoid of power is to those who have "an unction from the Holy One" (i John ii. 20) no better than "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Cor. xiii. 1.) To them the Churchman's liturgical mockery, and the carnal Dissenter's laboured, monotonous, cold, and lifeless prayer, running one unvaried round of set phrases and formal petitions, are equally insipid, irksome, and intolerable. From mock spirituality and the spirit of Diotrephes they desire to be preserved, whether they appear in a mitred bishop, a reverend dissenter, or a self-sufficient deacon who dictates to and keeps his poor cringing minister in fear, and holds forth in the table-pew at the prayermeeting, or spouts at the monthly or quarterly church-meeting.
To look bold, to assume a spirit of confidence, to talk with great assurance, to be forward and ready to approve or to condemn any person or thing that may come under observation, does not necessarily prove, as some think that it does, the presence of power. All these things may exist where the life of God is unknown and unselt. There is no power when religion is merely a mechanical thing, when there is no springing well, no divine inspiration, no humbling of the soul before God, and no inward reception of grace, strength, teaching, and direction from the Fountain of the water of life.
Ministers there are whose prayer is known to the people before uttered, and whose sermon might be preached almost verbatim by many of their hearers as soon as the text is given out. Such as look to these automaton preachers for something with which to feed their hungry souls, look in vain. Time after time, they are disappointed.
Their case is never unfolded; their wants are not met; the word falls like an idle and twice-told tale
ears; and the attempts that are made from the pulpit to comfort and encourage the tempted and cast down are more calculated to stir up feelings of vexation and disgust than to afford any consolation, light, or instruction to the needy but disappointed seeker, who therefore writes bitter things against himself, and looks upon his case as well nigh hopeless.
It is often a long time before all God's children can account for these things. They feel that the ministry is not such as they require; but they are afraid to say that it is not of God. They feel a lack of power and dew; and their souls get dried up like a potsherd, and become as the mount of Gilboa; but they are slow to believe that this is the effect of the preaching which they hear, or to think that it is increased by their associating with untried, unhumbled, and parrottaught professors. But, in due time, the mystery is cleared up; the soul is enabled to see through the flimsy vail, and discovers that the minister and people lack power, and know not that the “heart of the wise teacheth his mouth and addeth learning to his lips;" yes, he finds that it was power that was lacking. It is power that the soul sought; for he stood in need of that gospel which comes "not in word only, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power." Thus every
anointed member of Christ is made to value power, and to count as loss all that is without it. With power, he is taught in his own soul; with power, he is made to feel acutely and deeply his sinnership, his beggary, his helplessness, his emptiness, his ignorance, his carnality, his deceit, and his vanity. It is power which works in his heart, even that same power which raised up Jesus from "the dead. This power causes him to confess his misery and guilt before God, searches his heart, makes him cry for mercy and forgiveness, reveals to him the throne of grace, and raises up groanings, sighings, and longings for the blood of sprinkling; it makes him hunger and thirst after righteousness, drives him out of his numerous refuges of lies, fastens the words of the wise like nails and goads (Eccles. xii. il) in bis heart and conscience, discovers to him the snares and delusions of Satan, shows him his need of divine teaching, humbles him before God, causes godly sorrow which worketh “repentance not to be repented of” to flow forth, raises up faith in the Redeemer, communicates peace to his soul, enables him to pour out bis desires at the foot of the allar, and leads him to know, in some measure, the
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost.
Such as are partakers of this power, and have escaped from the snare of the foolish and the congregation of the dead, are made partakers of the afflictions of the gospel. The keen, swift-flying arrows of scandal and false report are directed against them; the tongue that speaketh like the piercings of a sword seeks to wound their reputation and murder their fair name; their motives are misconstrued, their words perverted, and their actions misinterpreted. They are deemed proud and self-righteous, because they dare not associate with those who are made manifest to them to be the enemies of God; they are deemed censorious and bitter, because they condemn, with plainness and pointedness, the delusions of Satan in others, which delusions have been discovered and condemned in themselves; and they are said to be narrow-minded and uncharitable, because they do not, like the simple, believe every word that professors may utter. Some call them bigots; some enthusiasts; and others scruple not to ascribe their religion, the power of which they hate, to Satanic influence. The self-righteous pharisee dislikes them because they expose his pride and contempt of the righteousness of God; the hardened professor of the doctrines of grace, who has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof, despises them because he thinks them legal, and argues that because they speak so much of the corruptions under which they “groản, being burdened,” they must consequently live upon their corruptions; the Antinomian hates them because they condemn his licentiousness, or speak against his unchristian spirit and loose conduct; and the man of the world shuns them, and ridicules them as fools. Thus they are the sect that is everywhere spoken against, and that is hated of all men for Christ's sake. But his power rests upon them; his power works within them; and his
deferds them from evil.
In the hearts of those men in whom the kingdom of God, which is “in power," is set up, God suspends the balances of the sanctuary. Into these are put the true and just weights which Jehovah delights in; and with these unerring scales the various things which are found within are weighed. Here true judgment is given; and though fallen nature may cry, "O tbat Ishmael might live before thee,” the Righteous Judge cannot be persuaded to alter his righteous decision. Here the living soul learns to know and value what is right and lawful, and is taught what doctrines are false and damnable. No need has he to read the writings of Atheists, Deists, Socinians, Arminians, Sabellians, Papists, Wesleyans, Pelagians, Antinomians, &c., to be persuaded that there are persons who are thus deluded, and to form a judgment of their tenets; for be discovers that the bitter root from which all these sprang is in his own heart; and here they are tried, weighed, and condemned. The Holy Ghost is a Spirit of judgment to him that sits in judgment and strength to them that turn the battle to the gate. Hence it is that what to the deceived seems a certain and delightful truth, and is eagerly studied and strongly maintained and advocated by them, to him is known to be earthly, sensual, and devilish. What delights them, grieves him; what they contend for, he contends against; what they gather, he throws away; what they follow, he flies from; and what to them is a welcome visitor, to him is a Satanic intruder, or a foul temptation. Their hopes and confidence he knows full well; and their foundation he has proved to be a sandy one. He has felt what they feel, and knows what they know; but they have never experienced what he has, nor have they felt what he is a partaker of. Thus he that is of the flesh, minds, esteems, follows, and holds as sacred the things of the flesh; and they that are of the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
But, notwithstanding much struggling, the partakers of power are enabled to “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." When the Lord works in them, Satan works likewise; when they would do good, evil is present with them; and when truth is made precious and its power is felt, the father of lies assaults it with his subtle reasonings, his plausible conjectures, and his apparently strong evidences against its reality. His lying tongue is often bidden in their carnal thoughts, which are strung thereupon, and which he, with cunning craft, leads forth, to distress and harass them; but the more he tempts, the more divine power works in them; and though every
infidel and minister of Satan, every panderer to sin and instigator of licentiousness, has a tongue which clamours within, the still small voice of Jehovah, which is "powerful and full of majesty," cannot be drowned, and always prevails. But Satan often works in a yet more treacherous
produces a false peace in the soul, secretly insinuates into it the spirit of slumbering, and ceases to contend violently. Gradually, the soul gets careless and torpid; prayer becomes a burden and is void of power; bardness seizes upon the heart; the oracles of truth are little looked into; conversation upon spiritual things grows insipid and is avoided; while the things of the world gain ground in the affections; idols are set up and worshipped; Ephraim is joined to them, and, for a season, is let alone. Where now is the power he once felt and manifested? Like Samson, he is shorn of his locks; but, like Samson's, they in time grow again. The Spirit of power makes him feel gradually bis situation; and he finds his inability to deliver himself from it. He begins to cry to the Lord, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned;" but his prayers seem not to be heard. He is terrified at the irreverenee and mockery of God which he finds continually flooding his soul; and, filled with his own ways, he begins to bemoan his sad state, and to loathe and cry out against himself
. Now, this arises from the working of power in his heart, which power continues to operate, and in due time enables him to pour out his soul before God, to take hold of his strength, and to receive hope and comfort again. The word is once more unsealed; the heart feels power in prayer; Jesus and his salvation are made precious; the enjoyment of his atoning blood and righteousness is sought after; the guilty conscience flies to the Fountain, and Christ is all and in all. He who has once felt the power of the Lord is sure to feel it again; for “to him that hath, shall be given.” He that has been condemned with power will soon be justified with power; he that is chastened with power will be comforted with power; and he who is enabled to pray with power will be answered with power. In him who most feels his own weakness the power of God is most manifested; he stands when others who are “fat and strong" (Ezek. xxxiv. 16) fall; and he will rejoice when others shall mourn. He to whom he has fled for refuge will make him feel his power to save, to cleanse, to restore, to comfort, to teach, and to lead into all truth. And wben all the family of God are beyond the reach of the archer, and are far from the “mountains of leopards," and the “ lion's den;" and when they who are “preserved in Christ Jesus and called" " are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” shall be led to "fountains of living waters," and shall have all tears wiped from their faces; they will, with one consent, confess that they who are kept, are “ kept by the power of God, through faith into salvation.”
G. S. B. I.
A LETTER FROM THE LATE MR. MARRIANER.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,- According to promise I now write to you, ibough I believe I have nothing to say worth hearing or reading. This place, like all others, is full of profession and pride; nor can I find any people here who are brought to seek the Lord. I have talked to many, but they are generally resting short. The bail has not swept away their refuges of lies, nor the waters overflowed their hiding place. Their league with hell is not made manifest to them, nor is their covenant with death broken up by the almighty power of the Lord. If they speak of distress, it does not arise from the right cause; and if they speak of joy, there is no oil, but it is dry, and leaves the speaker and the hearer barren.
I heard of a little people at W—, in B-, thirteen miles from O—. I went over the other day, and I found two or three whose hearts were right with me, and I really believe with the Lord also. They are a