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power of Jehovah, it breaks forth and produces woeful consequences; it appears in thought, word, and deed, in every one of mankind; and, as the Holy Ghost declares, "we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God." Gal. vi. 5. Rom. iii. 23. Yea, we are willing slaves to sin and satan, as soon as we can use a finger or move a tongue, increasing with our growth,'and strengthening with our strength; some more secret, others more open and scandalous; some through sudden and strong temptations, but all equally sinful, yea, sin itself in God's sight. Among unregenerate, carnal men, who know not God, some sins are considered more venial than others; but the scriptures declare no such thing: God the Spirit who cannot lie, (for he is emphatically called the Spirit of truth) says enough to put to silence all such carnality of reasoning. James ii. 10. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point is guilty of all." "Let God be true and every man a liar." But we may be allowed to say, that although every kind of sin whatever is damnable, there is a sin which may be considered in one point of view the greatest, because it embosoms every other ; and that is unbelief: which may be classed under three heads. 1st. The denial of the being and attributes of Jehovah, as the first great cause of all things, foolishly imagining that all exists by a necessity of nature, which never had a beginning, and will never have an end; and that man and beast are upon the same level, as to an hereafter, supposing that we all perish with the body; and this is usually designated Atheism—of which we have a much larger catalogue than is usually believed. "By their fruits ye shall know them.'' 2. The denial of the necessity and reality of revelation, supposing, yea, and publicly contending that the knowledge of God simply from the works of nature, and a following the dictates of one's own conscience, as to moral right or wrong, good or evil, is enough for man to know, and that God is merciful, and will make every allowance for human frailty; wherever through the same they may have come short of perfect rectitude—and this we denominate Deism. Of this class we have, even in this land of gospel light, a most alarming number, which we have reason to apprehend'will ere long deluge this professing country, and persecute the faithful more than they have ever yet been ; these will be in league with antichrist, and give their power to the beast; but their reign will be short, and their destruction sudden and apparent to the whole world. But we have another feature of unbelief—3. That of a rejection of Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, as the only hope and Saviour of sinners, (which we all by nature unquestionably are) the only sacrifice for sin and uncleanness; and yet these men profess to regard the bible as a revelation from God, and because there are some things above the reach df carnal reason, they reject in one shape or other the chief object of all revelation, which is Christ; and with him they must of necessity deny also that other revelation upon which every thing is founded, I mean the doctrine of three divine persons subsisting eternally in the unity of the divine essence, commonly called, for briefness sake, the Trinity in Unity. According to 1 John v. 7. "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one."
Now the bible contains the revelation of the will and purpose of Jehovah in covenant, (and without a distinction of persons in their several acts and engagements, there could be no covenant) for the redemption of his church from their lost debased state, and this revelation being made gradually unto the fathers, was handed down traditionally unto Moses; who having had a still more extensive revelation made to him, was raised up to be a glorious type of Christ, and to write the five books which appear under his name. After whom the Lord raised up other prophets to succeed him, until about 400 years before Christ came, the intermediate time being without any further prophecy that the faithful might be upon the look out for "him of whom Moses and the prophets did write;" and in order (this 1 only conjecture) that "the Sun of Righteousness" might appear- more resplendant after so long a night of darkness. And such Christ appeared to those who waited for him then; to instance one only, as recorded in Luke ii. 25—35. Simeon, to whom it was revealed by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ, he came by the Spirit into the temple at the very moment the child Jesus was brought in by his parents to do for him after the custom of the law.* "And Simeon took him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation," &c. So that in the case of Simeon was fulfilled (besides what the Holy Ghost had revealed to him, especially concerning his not seeing death until he had seen the Lord's Christ) that sweet declaration by the last of the prophets. Mai. iv. 2. "Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings, (or beams;) and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall."
Now let me put the question to you, my reader—Hath this glorious light arisen upon you to lighten your natural darkness? Hath he healed you of your diseases which in the course of nature are incurable? (I am speaking alone of spiritual light and spiritual health.) If not, then you remain in unbelief of Christ, and you are not saved. "For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts iv. 12. This is the only hope of salvation, and the only sacrifice for sin and all uncleanness; whom God the Father sent into the world at the time before agreed upon in the councils of eternity; that time which the Holy Ghost calls the "fulness of time;" because, among other reasons which might be assigned, it brought him into the world who emphatically "filleth all in all." Gal. iv. 4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." He being, as the Holy Ghost saith in another place, "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Rom. x. 4. And thus the Christ being come, he himself declared, that after his departure he would send the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, and that " he should reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me." John xvi. 7—9.
Here then we have revealed what is the chief, the crying sin of those who have the gospel preached unto them, even the rejection of Christ, as the Messiah; and all sin else is indeed little (speaking after the manner of men) or nothing in comparison with an obstinate rejection of Christ; for it infolds within itself every other sin, and condemnation must be the sure result of a continuance therein. For the scripture expressly proclaims, saying, 1 John v. 12. "He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life." Which is equivalent to what the apostles were led to say in answer to the convinced jailor's important question—" What must I do to be saved?" Do !" Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." So that this declaration was not made to the jailor only, but also to those of his household, who should alike believe. And remark especially, I pray you, the passage in question, Acts xvi. 31. where you will find it is written, •• And they (Paul and Silas) said, believe," &c. Influenced by the same Holy Ghost, to proclaim with one heart and one voice, the glad tidings of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence we perceive, if taught of the same Spirit, that unbelief of Christ, as set forth in the scriptures as the whole of a convinced sinner's hope and expectation, is the only bar to salvation. So that like some of old, "they could not enter in because of unbelief."
To believe then, is to be saved; and to be saved is to believe. Not a mere historical or notional belief, such as any natural mind may attain unto, by hearing, reading, and dint of study; but a scriptural and spiritual apprehension of Christ as your own personal salvation, so that you can and do cry out with the church, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Mark here, for it is very blessed to apprehend the Holy Spirit's design; it is called not a robe of righteousness, but the robe of righteousness, the only one, though belonging to the whole church: for this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. And so you have an abiding sense of that great deliverance Christ hath wrought for you personally, from the power, dominion, and curse of sin, from death spiritual and eternal; to all which unbelievers are immediately consigned—as in these words, "The wages of sin is death."
( To oe concluded in our next.)
(For the Spiritual Magazine. J
* A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse."—Canticles iv. 12.
The shrubs of the Redeemer's "right hand transplanting" have oft-times to pass through the dreary discipline of nocturnal withdrawments. They are not always (nor is it fit they should in a time state) dandled in the lap of covenant favour; or what would avail the promises in the charter of grace, under afflicting dispensations? Storms will arise; tempests will blow; and in this night of absence hurricanes will arise from the blast of earth and hell to alarm her; but her safety is in Jesus. However severe the inundation, and raging may be the boisterous billows, they shall never be disrobed of their heavenly plumes, nor in the end suffer loss. What a mercy! in every season she is equally beloved, and equally beautiful to her husband. He perceives her comeliness, even when her soul is apparently overwhelmed by the defilement of corruption's polluted stream. He smells the rich fragrance and perfumes exhaled from his roses and his lilies, notwithstanding the darkness of the night which envelopes her, and the dense and uncomfortable frames she experiences, as produced from her departures from him. To prove his love, and exercise her faith and patience, and to excite her panting after him, are among the causes of his transient concealment behind the darksome cloud; and the accomplishment of his purposes of grace, and the security of his glory are the ends designed. But at longest the seasons of Jesu's absence will be short; he will again arise in the full beams of love, and open up before the radiance of the sun the glory of his gTace, and again exhibit the graces which enamour and transport him.
The gardens of nature require fountains of water, and streams to cool and refresh them. They need the dews, which distil upon the tenderest plants in the night, to advance their growth, and to expand their foliage and beauty to the cheering sun. So does the spouse of Jesus need the invigorating dews which fall on the renewed soul in the night of affliction, to sanctify and render her subjectively meet, and to display her glory before the reviving presence of the Sun of suns. Amidst the Eden of the Lord is the Holy Spirit, who is an ever-flowing fountain of living water, from whence issues the pure and unadulterated streams of eternal life. These streams are indispensably necessary to vivify and make fruitful every plant of grace; without them, they would wither, droop, and die. There are streams which often pass unseen through the subterraneous caverns of the soul; but though seen, or unseen, they are constant in their operation, and on their ceaseless influence and application depends the life of grace. All the springs of nature have their source in nature's God; but the springs which flow in Zion proceed from the throne, and have their source in rich eternal love, which ever flowed freely to the church, and shall never cease throughout eternity.
Jehovah hath declared that " his delight is in his people;" and God hath said, " Zion is his habitation." What a sacred inclosure is this! The foundation of his palace is salvation, and her gates are praise. She is surrounded by the immortal bulwarks of eternal grace, and is safe from the hellish desires of her enemies to effect her overthrow. "God is in her midst," and "the shout of a King is heard in her camp." The omnipotent arms of matchless love are intwined around her, so that she may smile at every storm which batters on the fair citadel. Jehovah is indeed a wall of fire round about her to consume her enemies, and his presence is in her midst to illumine the plantation, and to make her "to bud and blossom as the rose, and to cast forth her roots as Lebanon." By faith the spouse of Jesus looks over the battlements, and beholds with pity the ants of the earth beneath, tugging with anxious toil for one bare grain as a reserve for winter's store, which perishes in using; but with greater amazement does she contemplate the love that transplanted her to a more auspicious haven; being once a groveller like them, (and now too prone to grovel) to sing his praise for ever.
But, again. The gardens of nature are frequently visited by the severating hand of its cultivator, to pluck up and root out the obnoxious weeds, which surround the native plants; and to prune the trees, so as to beautify them, and make them fruitful, and to mature their growth. But not more needful is the wisdom of the gardener of nature requisite to expunge these baneful excrescences, than the skill of the Holy Ghost in the sacred inclosures of Zion. The hurtful weeds of carnality, pride, and self-sufficiency are ever rearing their baneful heads. If through grace they are cut down, they spring up again, though unwatered by the dews of grace. Those noxious weeds expose her to frequent mortifications. The spouse of Christ must be brought into the stripping room, to be unclothed of her boasted atlire; her comeliness must be made to appear corruption, and she must be brought naked to the foot of the cross. And how often is she boasting of her beauty, and priding herself on the loveliness and brilliancy of her garments and fair adorning, and valuing herself on the superiority of her situation (at least internally) rather than looking to her Bridegroom, and admiring his glory. These are weeds which need expelling: sometimes this is effected by terrible things in righteousness, and sometimes by a gentler hand, but in every case effectually.
But in this secluded spot intrude the self-righteous, self-important pharisee, and hypocritical professors, "who have a name to live, while they are dead." These awful characters, according to the decree, must abide until the general harvest to receive their doom, when they will be cast into the furnace of black despair. When they are discovered to be the weeds of corruption, they are properly exterminated from the militant church, but further the church has no authority; for Jesus alone must fill the judgment seat.
The end designed by the existence of this garden inclosed, is that which gives importance to the whole; it is the glory of its owner.
Vol. IV.—No. 43. Z