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One thing in particular, I wish the believer not to lose sight of before I proceed, and that is, as to what ought to be our feelings, when truths, as inexplicable as they are glaringly bright, stare us in the face. Let Isaac be our example: he not only trembled, but trembled exceedingly, at the mysterious chain of circumstances before him, from the inscrutable methods the Lord was pleased to make use of, in the sovereignty of his ways, to bring about his strange acts and works of mercy and of judgment. May the Lord bless us with a spirit like Isaac, to tremble at his word, and not fight against it, because we cannot satisfy our over curious minds upon this question, How can these things be, consistent with our own views of right and wrong? "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth, but woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" (Isa. xlv. 9.) For of a piece with the history of Jacob and Esau, and similarly inexplicable to us, is the solemn subject with which I have headed the commencement of this essay; and which I now purpose to explain my own views upon, and my belief of.
In the doing of which, I commence with this solemn declaration, that
First, I DO NOT BELIEVE for a moment, that the Lord infuses the shadow of a principle to sin (if I may use such an expression) in any sinner, in any shape or form whatever; for the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. (Psa. cxlv. 17.) Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. (James i. 13, 14.) Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. (Hab. i. 13.) He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deu. xxxii. 4.) The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity. (Zeph. iii. 5.) See also Ps. v. 4; Jer. ii. 5; Ps. xxii. 3; Rev. iv. 8; and Isa. vi. 3, as a few of the numerous texts of Scripture that might be produced of like import.
From such pointed Scripture testimony as this, of the unspotted holiness and purity of the nature of God, let me turn to the experience of thy heart, Christian believer, as the only source of heart-consolatory confirmation of so Scripture a doctrine. If you really have been brought to the enjoyment of your union to Christ, as a spiritual member of his mystic body, you know, by heartfelt experience, that God is holy: you know, with me, that this Scripture testimony to a carnal man
cannot be received otherwise than any other common historical record, that is, by word only, from the authentic evidence of others: you know that until born again from above, until the Lord made bare the arm of his power through the quickening influences of the Lord the Spirit, you knew nothing of your state as a sinner: you know with me, the opposition of your whole nature to the discovery the Lord made to you of your own heart, all the way he led you, when the Spirit of the Lord as a candle searched the inmost recesses of the soul, and proved your own heart, by feeling experience, to be nothing better than the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird (Rev. xviii. 2): you know also, that when so brought to feel the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and to dread the just wrath of God in your own person, as revealed from heaven, against all unrighteousness and sinfulness of men, on account of it, that you could not believe in Christ in your own strength, if that belief must have constituted the meritorious cause of your salvation: when thus truly humbled before the Lord, and he created you anew in Christ Jesus, by revealing to your heart the atonement of Christ for pardon and peace, and the holiness of Christ for your holiness and justification, like leaven which leaveneth the whole lump, you know, with me, that though you heard and read of the holiness of God, you never, till brought to this point in Christian experience, understood what the holiness. of the nature of God meant; nor the peace, nor joy, happiness, and blessedness included therein. To you, then, and such as you, I alone appeal for confirmation of the Scripture doctrine I have advanced, that God is holy, essentially holy; and that none but the experimental believer in Christ knows anything about it. You know where the natural man is upon the glorious subject, both professor and profane; for you have been in their condition, but they now know nothing of yours: between them and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that, in reality, as it was with the Egyptians and the Israelites at the Red Sea, the one cannot come near the other. To be brought to such experience as this, requires, as the apostle writes, the exceeding greatness of the Lord's power to us-ward who believe. (Eph. i. 9) Therefore, whatever the nominal professor may say, he in reality has no spiritual conception of the holy nature of God.
Second, I DO BELIEVE that every man, as he enters into life, has been shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps. li. 5): and that in his very nature there is not a particular sin only, above others, that he has a nature to commit; but in deed and
in truth, the very essence of all the sins, in every variety, that the most abandoned miscreant in society in thought, word, and deed, ever committed, or ever will commit, on the face of the earth.
What saith the Scripture? We are clay of the same lump (Rom. ix. 21): And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen. vi. 5.) The margin reads not only the whole imagination, but also the purposes and desires. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (Jer. xiii. 23.) The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. (Gen. viii. 21.) How can ye being evil speak good things? (Matt. xii. 34.) Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (Matt. xxiii. 27.) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. xvii. 9.) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, &c. (Matt. vii. 11.) I ask, then, can man be worse than evil? Impossible. The Old Serpent, which is the devil and satan, cannot be worse. Again; the apostle has this energetic language to the church at Rome, chap. iii. 7-9 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), Let us do evil that good may come: whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise. Thus the apostle, to the church at Rome, puts himself in the same scale of merit with those, who so libelled the discriminating truths of the gospel, as to say of him and the church to whom he wrote, that he and they maintained and affirmed in their belief the spirit couched in this expression, Let us do evil that good may come: whose damnation, says the apostle, is just. To the church at Corinth in his first Epistle, chap. vi. 9-11, he has this humiliating language: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: &c. See also at your leisure Ezekiel viii. and xvi. throughout. How totally and universally depraved, then, is man! in all the faculties and powers he possesses both of body and soul!! It is fitly por
trayed in this Scripture truth: "And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins." (Eph. ii. 1.) No animal body in which life is extinct, is more insensible to every function of animal life, than is the spirit of man to a holy, spiritual life before the Lord. And until he knows and feels somewhat of the spirit of Job, when he was brought to confess this humiliating truth, "I have said to corruption, thou art my Father; and to the worm, thou art my Mother, and my sister," (xvii. 14) man knoweth nothing yet (comparatively) as he ought to know. (To be continued.)
THE POOL OF BETHESDA.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE GOSPEL STANDARD.
Sirs,-Through your valuable Standard, an impotent body, who is hungry and thirsty, and whose soul at times fainteth within her for a ray of hope in the manifestation of an interest in a precious Redeemer's blood, is desirous of having a few words from a "Lover of Zion," on the 7th verse of the 5th chapter of John; "The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me." Does he, as a valiant soldier of truth, who has experienced the workings of God the Holy Spirit upon his own soul, think it possible for a poor, weak, feeble sinner to come to that pool, waiting there for the moving of the waters, who is walking in darkness and having no light, and who, feelingly a dog, would gladly eat of the crumbs which fall from the children's table, and living and dying in that state, does he think there is any hope for such a soul?
May the Lord enable a Lover of Zion to drop a few hints on the foregoing passage, for the comfort and consolation of, I trust, a mourner, though perplexed with innumerable doubts as to the reality, and for the building up and establishing of the wavering.
May your Standard be the bearer of the truth as it is in Jesus, and may it be a means, in the Lord's hands, of dispensing the bread of life freely to poor, perishing sinners, who desire not only a head knowledge of the sovereign grace of God, but a feeling sense of the divine power working in the heart, is the sincere and earnest petition of, I would hope,
Manchester, Aug. 26.
A BROKEN HEARTED SINNER.
TO THE EDITORS OF the gosPEL STANDARD.
Sirs,-In looking over the first number of the Gospel Standard, I was certainly gratified to perceive the confidence with which some of the writers assert their certainty of salvation, &c. &c. The most valuable legacy which Jesus, the true God and eternal life," has left to them who believe in his name, is, "good hope, through grace" which enables them to look beyond the cares and sorrows of a vain world, rejoicing in the hope of a glorious immortality beyond death and the grave; and the highest attainment which the humble Christian, walking in the light of his Father's countenance, can arrive at on this earth, is, when he attains to that" assurance of faith,” which enables him to rejoice all the day" with undisturbed confidence in the smiles of his Redeemer's face. The promises of God are all Yea and Amen, to the believer in Christ. Every word of the Messiah, and of his appointed messengers to the churches, is calculated to give "strong consolation," and full assurance of hope even to the end, to those followers of the Lamb who, by grace, are taught to yield obedience to the doctrines of the cross.
I should certainly be the last person in the world to detract one iota from the assurance, or confidence, of the strongest believer; but I would humbly suggest that, having a strong faith in the testimony of God is one thing, and boasting of our individual confidence and security is another. Of late years, I have been especially disposed to think with great caution respecting those persons who make this boasting, or vaunting, or talking with dogmatical confidence, about their certainty of salvation, as the reward of their strong faith; and I have met with many who make no scruple about dooming the whole human race to eternal damnation, except the few who are disposed to adopt their own peculiar strong language. It is true, that Job is represented as being enabled to say, whilst suffering under the severest agony of mind and body, magnified into torture by the keen reproaches of his friends, in spite of his accumulated sufferings, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and not another," &c. It is true also, that the Apostle Paul, in the probable prospect of being torn to pieces by wild beasts, for bearing testimony in support of the truths of the gospel,