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as I said unto you, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;" Christ is “ a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed;" “ He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." And here, my
dear friend, we see the solemn sovereignty of God, and it is marvellous in our eyes; but what we know not now, we shall know hereafter. These people have neither spiritual ears, nor spiritual eyes, nor spiritual understanding; yet we see a many of them that make a great outward profession, and seem to go on in a very easy and comfortable way. And, indeed, well they may; for the devil does not tempt and torment them with his fiery darts, neither are their own lusts à plague to them: they have no fightings and fears within, nor persecutions without; so they go on as smoothly as possible, within and without, and therefore have a great deal to boast of about what they are doing and have done for God. Bat if the Lord does not stop them here, he will say to them hereafter, “ Depart from me, F never knew you."
My dear friend, let us apply the matter more closely.Once we were blind, but now we see; we were dead in trespasses and sins, but now we are made alive by the mighty power of God. When I am brought to meditate on these things, I feel astonished that the Lord should ever. have brought such a wretch as myself out of nature's darkness, and passed by others, leaving them to perish in their sins; for I feel that there is nothing in me to recommend me to his favour. 0, no; it is all of free, sovereign, unmerited, discriminating grace. I feel that I am a vile, polluted, hell-deserving sinner; and when the blessed Spirit is pleased to lead me out of self, give me a faith's view of Christ, in all his glorious characters, and enable me to see myself chosen in him before the foundation of the world, it is then I can rejoice in the Lord as my salvation; it is then I am laid low in self-abasement, and can say, “How is it, Lord, that thou manifesteth thyself unto me, and not unto the world?" it is then I can exclaim, “ Not unto me, not unto me, but anto thy name, O Lord, be all the glory;” it is then Christ appears to me the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely; it is then I feel a little of the sweetness of being on the Mount with Jesus; and 0, what sweet and blessed moments these are to my poor tried, 'tempted, harassed, and perplexed soul! But, alas! how very short they are, yes, and very seldom too! Then I again return to
my old place, and a sad place it is; for there I find nothing but sin and wickedness, evil thoughts, yea, and evil desires too. My Jesus seems to be gone; my confidence and interest in the Lord seem to be the same. Then I sigh, and
and pray for him to return, but seem to pray in vain. Sometimes I am so vain as to try to mend myself, and I think I will drive the world, evil imaginations, and evil desires out of my heart. But, alas ! the more I strive, the more powerfully they work in
I then endeavour to fix my thoughts and affections on things above, but cannot, for I find my evil propensities will still rise up. I then try to forget self altogether, and to read my interest in Christ, but all in vain. Then I run to my Bible, but that appears to condemn me. So that do what I will, I seem to be shut up, and unable to come forth. Then the devil comes with his suggestions, and says, Look at yourself; you are nothing but a mass of sin, and yet you profess to be a child of God. You have never had any true conviction, nor any real manifestation; it's altogether delusion. Thus I am filled with doubts and fears, and am ofttimes ready to conclude that I shall prove to be an hypocrite after all. But now and then the Lord is pleased to apply his promises to my soul, which revive and refresh me; therefore, I am not wholly destitute of hope.
May the Lord bless these few words to thy soul, for his name's sake, and he shall have the glory.
October ), 1834.
THE MINISTRY NOT WITHOUT TRIALS.
(Extract of a Letter.) Beloved of the Lord,-1 yesterday received your kind letter, inviting me to supply for you a few Lord's Days, and take the earliest opportunity of sending you an answer. I write very reluctantly, for I know not what answer to send you: it would suit
my mind better to wait and think. I wish to be guided aright by the great Head of the church. In the first place, I feel my insufficiency and ignorance so great, which makes me fear that I shall come in vain, if I do come. I sometimes am very low in my mind about my standing in grace, and lower still about my preaching. Every thing seemas to be against me. I have to tell my hearers that it is presumption in me to stand up in the blessed Lord's name. I have no stones to throw at Gideon, for his unbelief. Every mark and evidence of a true minister seems to be against me. though I am seldom without one, which is, passing through evil report; for such.scandalous reports are circulated, without the least foundation; which makes me think that the father of lies is an open enemy of mine. But I would say with David, “Let them curse, but bless thou, O Lord." I trust that evil reports may prove cautions, for we need continually hearing, “ Take heed," “ Beware." I feel myself as vile as ever they can represent me, and therefore must contend, from heartfelt experience, that salvation is all of grace. I travel so much in mire and darkness, which keeps me from running into head notions much. I murmur that I am kept so ignorant, and that I know so little, and can open so litile of the word of God; but still I feel it a mercy to be even in such hardness of heart and such confusion, rather than slipping into the pits of heady notions. Many talk about Christ, and the doctrines of grace, who are strangers to the power of godliness: and what an awful thing it is to have a name to live, and to be dead. t desire to know Christ, but I want the blessed Spirit to lead me to that knowledge; for anything short of that glorious and powerful teaching must fade away, in the time of trial. I find the work of the ministry a most trying work, and I often feel desirous of giving it up, if I could do so honourably; but, having put my hand to the plough, I through mercy continue to this day. The Lord at times encourages me in my own soul, and sometimes I hear of the word being blessed through me; but I wonder how it can be so, feeling so full of sin and various abominations. I meet with very few who are enjoying much in their own souls; and when I meet with any who boast much about an assurance of faith, I generally question how they got at it.
The devil is a very great deceiver, and we have very deceitful hearts; so we need not be so very much surprised to find so many puffed up with vain notions. May we ever encourage those who have life and feeling, but may we be kept from bolstering up professors in false hopes and false joys.
May the Lord bless and prosper you, and may the frieuds be enabled to pray that I may come with the blessed Lords sanction. Believe me,
Yours very sincerely, for Christ's sake. April 7,
GOD IS LOVE.
TO THE HEAVEN-BORN CHILDREN OF GOD. Beloved of the Lord, It is your blessedness to prove, by the divine teaching of God the Holy Ghost, that God is Love, --eternal, immutable Love. This precious truth you will not deny; but then you may often struggle under very deep depression of spirit and heart-rending groans, lest you should not be interested in this glorious Three-One God of love. It is not enough for you to hear that God is love, nor to believe it as a most blessed truth, nor to say he loved David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, &c., nor to look round
say, concerning others, he loved them, or, he loved you, or, he loved thee. No; your heart thirsts to say, feelingly to say, he loved mo. You feel that vital godlinesis is personal, and to you it matters but little, as it respects your own comfort, who he loved, or how greatly he loved them, if he do not love you. The vehement desire of your heart is, that the blessed Jehovah, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, would speak this precious truth to your heart, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. xxxi. 3.) It will not do for you to be told that
must simply believe, do your duty, and be decidedly pious, and then God will love you: this ground you have proved to be boggy, and have been necessitated to flee from it, and cry, “Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.” (Isa. xxxviii. 14.) The Lord has given you faith to believe that “ they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. viii. 8); and that however fair a show they may make in the flesh (Gal. vi. 12), it is but a show, leaving them destitule of vital godliness. Christ's kingdom is not of this world (John xviii. 36); for the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. xiv. 17); and this kingdom must be set up in the heart (Luke xvii. 21), not in word merely, but in power, and that power
of God: “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” (1 Thess. i. 5.) Therefore, having eyes to see the emptiness of a mere duty religion, nothing short of an enjoyment of the power of Christ's religion in your heart can satisfy you. For this you hunger, thirst, and pant; and even when you dare not say,
- The Lord is my God,” still nothing but Christ and his blood and
obedience brought home to your conscience, by the power of the Holy Ghost, can give you rest; but when Christ and his complete salvation is enjoyed, with solemn pleasure you can
“He loved me, and gave himself for me ;” and, as the glorious effect of vital union to Christ, by, a living faith in him, you can, in some measure, trace the almighty love of God the Father in your election, of God the Son in your redemption, and of God the Holy Ghost in his quickening, enlightening, teaching, sanctifying, anointing, and sealing power, and with solemn joy say, “This God is my God for ever and ever, he will be my guide even unto death;” and as the blessed Spirit leads you on, you can enter a little into the nature of the undivided love of the glorious Three-One God, and see that the love of each dear Person is of the same nature and extent; so that all that the Father loved and chose in Christ (Eph. i. 4, 5), the Son loved and redeemed from their sins: « Who
gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous. of good works:” (Titus ii. 14)—and all that the Son redeemed, the blessed Spirit loves, quickens, teaches, and sanctifies : “For such were some of you; but”–0 the blessedness of this precious but, when brought home to the heart—" but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. vi. 11); and the whole nor any part of this is neither by works of righteousness which ye have done, nor according to your works, " but according to Jehovah's own purpose and grare, which was given you in Christ before the world began.” (2 Tim. i. 9.) Therefore, your salvation, in all its bearings, is of rich, free, discriminating love. God grant that you may daily live as becomes creatures so highly favoured, showing forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Trials you may have, yea, you inust have; for it is the settled purpose of God that " through much tribulation ye must enter the kingdom.” But this is all in love, and everlasting love is still sure; and this blessed God of love has engaged to succour, support, and defend you. Your light, as it respects the manifestation of it, may not always be as the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, nor the blessed graces of the Spirit spring up in your souls like the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Clouds and darkness may surround the Lord, hiding his glory from your view, and in your feelings you may be very, very dark, and very, very barten. But your dear God of love will not forsake you; new co