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tent power for their defence. He defeats the designs of their spiritual foes, and when ready to be destroyed by the world, says, “ touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” It is to the Lord's thus going before his people that we ascribe all their preservation. Who can tell what snares the prince of darkness is daily and hourly laying for them? What secret designs are formed by the world for their injury? What dreadful havoc their corruptions might make ? But Jehovah goes before them. No unsuspected foe can pass by him to hurt his people: no fiery dart but he will enable them by the shield of faith to quench. 2. The Lord goes before his people to support them under all their trials. The saints though interested in the blessings of the everlasting covenant, and graven upon the palms of the Redeemer's hands, are exercised with many trials. They have to experience many severe temptations from sátan, many outward trials, and are brought experimentally to know, that “ through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom of God.” But he who appointeth all their trials, goeth before them, He marks every afflictive step they have to tread, and leaves the marks of his love at every step. As afflictions come he supports them with his promises, opens to their view the riches of his covenant, and the glories of that world, where the voice of distress is never heard, Cheered by the promises of the Lord, believers take up their cross, and pursue their journey toward the celestial Zion. With St. Paul they exclaim, “ I reckon that the sufferings of the present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory, that shall be revealed in us.” Discovering the Lord before them, hearing the voice of Jesus, they brave all difficulties. With holy confidence and tranquillity they individually exclaim, 6 my covenant God knows what trials are necessary for my present and future welfare. I have his promise that all things shall work together for my good, and I welcome all his sovereign will, because that will is love. A few more trials and then the days of my mourning shall be ended, and Jesus be the eternal delight of my soul. 3. The Lord goes before his people to direct them. The people of God are utterly unable to direct their steps; they are prone to wander from the Lord, and unless continually upheld and directed by him, would bring great distress upon their souls, and injury upon his cause. But the Lord goes before them. He leads them step by step to his heavenly kingdom. He opens the various situations appointed for them in providence, and directs them into the paths of truth and righteousness. Hence it is said, for the encouragement of the saints, that he leadeth them in the way in which they should go; no other way would be conducive to their welfare, or advance the divine glory. Tried believer, then, who art often cast down on account of the darkness of divine providence, remember that your covenant God is leading you by the way that you should go. However dark his dispensation, yet all are ordered in love, all must issue in your everlasting welfare. In this way the Lord goes before his people: and what a rich display is here made
of the sovereignty of his grace. Who are they that he goes before !
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
He will neupr, no never, no never forsake.
(To the Editor of the Spiritual Magazine.) MEDITATIONS ON MY BIRTH-DAY. Dear Sir,
In taking a retrospect of the way in which the Lord hath led me thus far through the wilderness, I pause to contemplate with unspeakable gratitude, the innumerable mercies of which I have been the recipient; and am compelled to exclaim, “goodness and mercy hath followed me all my days.” And while perusing page after page of my eventful history, and turning over the leaves of my christian experience, I read in the extended narrative a record of mercies of which I have been the unworthy receiver, and the Lord the bountiful giver, and stand amazed in reviewing the long catalogue of blessings and mercies that crowd one after another upon my view, as so many evidences of the Lord's care, and love, and kindness to one so unworthy the least of all his favours. Having now arrived at the commencement of another year of my mortal existence, and turned over another leaf of the volume of life, I have again to bring my ascriptions of praise for all the mercies received in the period of time which hath again made its annual revolution, for having been conducted thus far on my journey to the heavenly country, experienced the Lord continually watching over me for good, and “ crowning me with loving-kindness and tender mercies.”
I may enumerate the years of my life, but never can recount the mercies received in that life from a God in covenant; they are
countless as the sand upon the ocean's shore. In the year that has now rolled away how many special mercies have I been continually receiving; what manifestations of his mercy and love, and constant communications of grace has my peculiar circumstances required. And when called to labour more specifically in his service, and to proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus, how graciously hath he been pleased to impart suited strength and support, and manifest himself unto me as he doth not unto the world. It is when placed in the front of the battle that we feel the heat of the combat, and find by experience the strength and power and subtilty of the enemy with whom we are called to encounter. Satan invariably levels his heaviest artillery against those who, arrayed under the banner of the cross, are called to wield the sword of the Spirit against him; but the Lord Jesus, like a skilful general, always foils the grand adversary with his own weapons, by causing his attacks upon his people to drive them nearer to the side of the great Captain of their salvation, that, feeling their own weakness, they may prize the strength received from him, and find him a never-failing refuge and hiding-place 66 when the blast of the terrible one is as a storm against the wall.”
But there are not only foes and fightings without, but a variety of fears and conflicts within, arising from the peculiarity of the situation in which they are placed ; being sensibly alive to the vast importance of the sacred office, the faithful discharge of which must ever be a subject of paramount consideration with a faithful minister of Christ. The charge of feeding the church of God as an under shepherd, is one of no trifling consideration to those whom the Lord sends into his vineyard; and the accumulated trials, difficulties, and perplexities which such must ever experience to qualify them for the sacred work, will under the pupilage and instruction of God the Holy Ghost lead us to see more and more of our own nothingness, shew us our absolute dependance upon Christ, exalt him more highly in our estimation, and enable us to proclaim him to his people as the Alpha and Omega, the all and in all. How blessed with each returning year of life thus to contemplate the unchanging faithfulness of Jehovah to his people; while many who commemorate with riotous joy the day of their birth, will one day wish they never had existence, or that they could find refuge from the wrath to come in eternal annihilation. But the believer in Jesus will not only have abundant reason to thank the Lord for his natural existence, but pre-eminently so for his spiritual birth, in being born again and made partaker of a life in Jesus to which there shall be no termination. It is an eternal life which will run parallel with the existence of Jehovah himself, as declared by him who dwells in his own eternity, 6 because I live, ye shall live also.”
While thus contemplating some of the new covenant blessings received from our covenant Head, I can also say with Joshua, ere he stepped over the boundaries of time to enter into the joy of his Lord, “that not one thing hath failed of all that he hath promised.” He
VOL. IV.-No. 42.
hath proved as good as his word in ten thousand instances ; hath verified his promises in my experience, and in all the diversified movements of his providence hath caused all things to work together for my good and for his glory. He hath supported me in temptation, strengthened me in weakness, comforted me in affliction, and in every situation of life, however painful the circumstances attending it may have been, yet I have proved his faithfulness to be great, and his promises to be sure, and that “ he is a very present help in every time of trouble.” All his dispensations to his people though they may be trying and painful, are nevertheless exceedingly profitable and necessary; like some useful medicine when administered it may prove unpalatable, but which in the issue is found to be highly beneficial and salutary. His visitations are messengers of mercy, and tend under the Spirit's teaching to empty us of self, to wean us from the world, to shew us our vileness and unworthiness, and that all we have and are is of his abounding goodness and mercy.
In proportion as this is experienced by the soul taught of God, so' in proportion will Christ become increasingly precious, and all he is to his redeemed family be opened and developed with greater sweetness to the soul, as the Holy Spirit instructs him in those heavenly lessons which are only to be learned in the school of Jesus. The farther we advance in this heavenly science the more glorious will Christ appear to the eye of faith, and such an infinite efficacy in his blood, such a freedom and fulness in his salvation, such perfection in hiş unspotted righteousness, such boundless and distinguishing grace, and such proofs of the eternity of his love to his people be discerned, as shall compel them to exclaim, “ He is the chiefest among ten thousand, yea, he is altogether lovely.” Every thing the believer can want is found in him; he is the fountain of blessedness from which all the streams of mercy flow into our hearts, and which is always flowing and overflowing to his chosen family; while every new-covenant blessing in which they participate, are proofs of his covenant love and unchanging affection, which nothing can weaken or annihilate. He suits his mercies to their multiplied necessities, and being empty in themselves they come continually to the heavenly almoner, the Almighty sufficer of his people, in whom all the blessings are deposited, to receive from his royal bounty, grace upon grace, emanating from “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Oh! how precious doth such a view of Christ appear; how suited to the wants of Zion's poor, weak, and weary pilgrims, whose every need is supplied out of his boundless riches in glory, even the unsearchable riches of Christ. All they require in their pilgrimage home to their Father's house he has engaged to supply; all needed grace and strength, direction, counsel, support, and consolation ; withholding nothing that is good for them, but every thing that would prove an evil; he conducts them safely through an host of enemies by which they are surrounded, and, borne on the arms of everlasting
love, these many sons and daughters shall arrive safely in glory, and shout victory! victory! through the blood of the Lamb.
And when they come to the close of their pilgrimage, and all created objects fail and shrink into nothing before the departing spirit, even then his love and faithfulness shall be most conspicuously displayed ; and should the last enemy appear terrific and formidable to nature, standing on the brink of eternity and fearing to launch away, then he will assuredly comfort their hearts, and say, “ fear not, Jacob, to go down into Egypt, for I will go with thee.” He softens the pains of death; he makes their bed in the grave, where they shall lie in peace until the glorious resurrection morning, when the echo of the last trumpet shall rouse their slumbering dust, and the scattered particles collected from the four winds of heaven be re-united to the glorified spirit; and though vile by nature and by sin, yet it shall he changed and fashioned like unto the glorious body of their glorified Lord. In prospect of a consummation like this, so glorious and eternally sure, every tried pilgrim of Zion may well contemplate the dissolution of the mortal tenement, not only with calm tranquillity, but “ with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” He will then leave for ever a world of sin and sorrow, the arrows of the hellish archer no longer touch him ; for he will be eternally beyond the reach of the enemy. The trumpet will sound a retreat from the field of battle, and he shall ride as a vessel of mercy safely over the swellings of Jordan, and finally enter the promised land. There the soldiers of the cross shall rest after the toils of the campaign, the conflict be for ever over, and all tears be wiped away from their eyes : all “ the ransomed of the Lord, coming to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” · May the Lord grant to all his redeemed family an increased acquaintance with these eternal realities; and as every successive year of their lives shall pass away may they die more to the world, live more to Christ, enjoy more communion with him, and see by faith more clearly, when standing on the summit of Pisgah's mountain, the inheritance to which they are predestinated, which they ere long shall inherit; and consider that all the afflictions of this sublunary state, but light, fleeting and transitory, since they are working for them “ a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) THE FORTHCOMING OF GOD'S SHEEP ALL SECURED
IN THE RESPONSIBILITY AND GLORY OF THE CHIEF SHEPHERD.
. « Them also I must bring."-John x. 16. HERE the great Shepherd announces the certain return of all the sheep anciently committed to his charge : he goes forth, in this