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for the purpose of becoming candidates for the Lord's table, would not have a word to say; and perhaps could only reply to such questions as were asked, in the language of Peter, by an appeal to the searcher of hearts, “ Lord, thou knowest all things : thou knowest that I love thee !"
Then, as the great head of his body the church, the divine Author and Constituter of this ordinance, has prescribed no rules, has not erected any barriers, or thrown any obstacle in the way of his dear people; why should man, the creature of a day, erect standards, and prescribe a certain rule to the broken-hearted disciple of the Lamb ? For my own part I confess I have long done with forms and ceremonies, with rules and ordinances, (as in themselves conceived,) with the being judged " in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath day.". vide Col. ii. 16-20. being dead with Christ, who is my glorious Covenant Head, from the rudiments of the world.' Yet, though living in such a world, I am not subject to the ordinances thereof, which all are to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrine of men, which things have indeed a shew of wisdom, in will worship; &c. I do not even profess to belong to any party or sect, excepting that I do indeed associate now and then with a few poor outcasts, a few of that sect which now as in the days of the apostles where every where spoken against, and counted as the offscouring of all things : yes, I am contented to be an humble, secluded follower of the despised Nazarene; I am content with Israel of old to stand still and see the salvation of God : I am content to look on while my Lord does wondrously, in opposition to the religion of the present age, which is that the people do wondrously, while the Lord looks on; I am content to wait patiently for the Lord Jehovah, my covenant God and Father, my Saviour and Redeemer, to serve me and all despised outcasts with a portion of meat in due season, while the multitude are serving, or rather making such an outcry about serving the Lord.
Mr. Editor, I have done: should this fall into the hands of a selfrighteous pharisee, I can tell him, I court not the smiles, neither do I fear the frowns of any man; I am, as said before, a poor empty sinner, a wayfaring man, a fool, as it respects the wisdom of this world. May it please God the Eternal Spirit to bless the broken fragments that I have committed to paper, to the removing the obstacles that stand in the way of many of the flock of slaughter, who have been previously emptied of all worthiness and preparation except such as the Lord the Spirit is pleased to bestow—that they may know, that they and they alone, are invited by Jesus to take and eat. It matters not the time when, nor the place where; whether in an upper room, or a lower room; where Jesus is present at the feast he himself breaks the bread of eternal life to his feeble ones; and with a smile (for he ever smiles upon his church,) he says, “ Eat, O friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved !”
Dear Sir, I remain your's in covenant bonds, .. London, May 2, 1827.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) CONSOLATION FOR A BROTHER IN AFFLICTION. Dear Brother in the Lord,
You will perhaps feel a little surprize at my thus intruding upon your time and patience, but I trust the love of Christ is the blessed spring which animates my soul to write, and which will influence your mind while reading. I have noticed, my brother, for some little time past that you have appeared to be labouring under great dejection of mind and distress of soul, for which I am in many respects grieved ; as it certainly must be a heart destitute of brotherly affection, that does not feel interested in the adversity of one so closely allied by the endearing ties of church fellowship. Nevertheless, one respect in which I cannot feel regret is this, that I feel confident all shall work together for good, and I have no doubt you will eventually find it so to be. My brother, if it is any consolation to you to find a fellow traveller in this path, you have it in myself; and as sympathy is half a cure, if the Lord the Spirit should in a sovereign display of his Almighty power shine into my understanding, furnish me, with arguments, and enable me with affection and sincerity to open my heart to you; then, as the Comforter shall apply the few remarks, God will be glorified, you will be comforted, and my own soul refreshed and established.
I know, my friend, by bitter experience what it is to be labouring under this depression and desertion which you appear to be the subject of; but remember, “though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning :" the night of spiritual desertion is a night indeed; there is I believe no affliction equal to it, for “the spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Of what nature the particular affliction which oppresses you is, I cannot tell, but the above-named is evident, for trials and difficulties are all light indeed when Jesus is present, when we have liberty at a throne of grace, and access with comfort to a God in covenant. But Oh! what distress of soul have I waded through, my brother ; what darkness have I experienced, what bondage and travail have I felt, even when my countenance has worn the hypocritical smile, and before the Lord's people I have appeared cheerful! My heart has been overwhelmed within me, and the conversation of my brethren and sisters, which has so often delighted my heart, has been a burden to me, and gladly would I have crept out of their company: but this was but a small part of my grief. When I retired to a throne of grace, what darkness, what bondage have I laboured under; the very heavens appeared as brass over my head, and he who is the delight of our souls seemed, as Job emphatically expressed it, to cover himself with a cloud, that my prayer might not pass through. If I am not mistaken, such have been the exercises of your soul of late. What is the cause, I have no doubt you well know: I am well acquainted with the cause of all, and we no doubt can join in the lamentable cry, “our iniquities have separated between us and our God;" and a painful separation it is indeed! But, my brother, may the Lord grant under his divine teaching it may be the happy means in the end of drawing us nearer himself, enabling us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and follow him through good and through bad report, 6 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;" and I feel confident in the end we shall have to bless the Lord for all the difficulties through which we are called to pass.
Oh! may the Lord in infinite mercy grant us a double portion of his Spirit, that faith may be in lively exercise, that we may be enabled to look beyond second causes, and to rest upon the word and promise of a covenant God; and amidst all our dejection crying out, “ Lord, save, or I perish.” Casting our concerns, temporal and spiritual, for time and eternity, at the feet of Jesus, exclaiming, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
My brother, these are paths which none know, which none pass through, but the redeemed of the Lord. What consolations, what comfort can be found, when Jesus hides his face? creatures, however dear, are all burdensome; no created enjoyments will fill the vast space, nothing short of Christ. You may be surrounded with affectionate friends, sympathizing relatives, all that can endear mortals to you; yet the cry and desire of the heaven-born soul bursts through them all, exclaiming,
“These can never satisfy,
Give me Christ, br else I die!" These I know to be experimental truths, and have no doubt you will bear me out, and say amen to them. We have been poring over the disease : now may the Lord the Spirit reveal the remedy, and as I write, and as you read, apply the healing balm of Jesus' precious blood to both our wounds. Oh! may the Sun of Righteousness, according to his promise, arise upon us with healing in his wings, that with holy delight we may bask in his genial rays. This is the element our souls desire; here all idols fall, like dagon before the ark; here all creatures are removed to the wished for distance, and every idol is cast to the moles and to the bats.
My brother, “though thou passest through the waters they shall not drown thee, and the floods they shall not overflow thee; when thou passest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the fame kindle upon thee.” May the Lord direct your heart into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ the Deliverer, who shall come with deliverance in his own time, and you shall again, as an inhabitant of the rock, sing and make melody in your heart unto the Lord Jehovah, who is the saving strength of his anointed. Yes, may the Lord enable you and me in the exercise of faith to recline our heads, like the beloved John, upon the bosom of the friend that sticketh closer than a brother, the friend loving at all times; unto him may we be taught to make all our sorrows known, and to commit our cause, and lay all our concerns at the feet of infinite wisdom, conscious that all things shall work together for good. I trust the time is not far distant when our souls shall feel that liberation they pant after; when Christ Jesus shall reveal himself to our souls, in all the glories of his person as a sin-pardoning God; when the Comforter shall shine into our souls; when we shall go on our way rejoicing, abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost ; living in sweet communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, above the things of time and sense; that the world may be under our feet, and our whole lives may be to the praise of the glory of his grace who hath made us accepted in the beloved.
A few more conflicts and sorrows, trials and difficulties, and the closing scene will arrive, the happy moment when our languid eyes shall take the last survey of created things. Yes,
“A few more setting suns at most, .
Will land us safe on Canaan's coast.'
Your sincere friend,
(For the Spiritual Magazine.)
THE LIFE OF FAITH.
BELCHER, OF DEDHAM, IN NEW ENGLAND.
Dear Brother, sisi
Your's I received, and thought on that question, being, how to live in this world so as to live in heaven?. It is one of the common pleas of my heart, which I have often occasion to study, and therefore takes me not unprovided. It is hard to keep the helm up against so many cross winds as we meet withal, upon this sea of fire and glass. That man knows not his own heart that finds it not difficult to break through the entanglements of the world. Creature-smiles stop and entice away the affections from Jesus Christ; creature-frowns encompass and tempestuate the spirit, that it thinks it doth well to be angry. Both ways grace is a loser. We had all need to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. The greatest of your conflicts and causes of complaints seem to have their original here.
Temptations follow tempers. As there are two predominant qualities in the temper of everybody, so there are two predominant sins in the temper of every heart. Pride is one in all men in the world. I will tell you, familiarly, what God hath done for my soul, and in what trade my soul keeps towards himself. I am come to a conclusion to look after no great matters in the world, but to know Christ and him crucified. I make best way in a low gale: a high spirit and a high sail together will be dangerous, and therefore I prepare to live low. I desire not much; I pray against it. My study is my calling, so much as to tend that without distraction, I am bound to plead for, and more I desire not. By my secluded retirements, I have the advantage to observe, how every day's occasions insensibly wear off the heart from God, and bury it in itself, which they who live in care and lumber cannot be sensible of. I have seemed to see a need of everything God gives to me, and to - want nothing that he denies me. There is no dispensation, however afflictive, but either in it or after it, I find I could not be without it, whether it be taken from me or not given to me, sooner or later God quiets me in himself without it. I cast all my concerns on the Lord, and live securely on the care and wisdom of my heavenly Father, My ways, you know, are in some sense hedged up with thorns, and grow darker and darker daily ; but yet I distrust not my good God in the least, and live more quietly in the absence of all by faith, than I should do, I am persuaded, if I possessed them.
I think the Lord deals kindly with me, to make me believe for all my mercies, before I have them, that they will then be Isaacs, sons of laughter: the less reason hath to work upon, the more freely faith casts itself on the faithfulness of God. I find that while faith is steady nothing can disquiet me, and when faith totters nothing can establish me. If I stumble out among means and creatures, I am presently lost, and can come to no end; but if I stay myself on God, and leave him to work in his own way and time, I am at rest, and can sit down and sleep in a promise when a thousand rise up against me ; therefore my way is, not to cast beforehand, but to work with God by the day; os sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." I find so much to do