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"Put shoes on his feet;" which the apostle in Ephesians vi. 15. calls the preparation of the gospel of peace. The Lord told Asher that his " shoes should be iron and brass;" and all the Lord's children in the present day require them, for the way is rough. "In the world ye shall have tribulation," tribulation within and without; and as shoes are to preserve the feet, so these are much needed, and are for the preservation of the believer while travelling through this world. Shoes on the feet were a mark of liberty; so to have these shoes on is a mark or proof of the Lord's having freed us from our natural bondage to sin and satan.
"And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it." How the Redeemer alludes to the scriptures under the law which pointed to himself! A fatted calf is one that is prepared for slaughter, so was Christ, " a body hast thou prepared me;" and for this cause he came into the world. A fatted calf is food for the body, and Christ is food for the soul: " my flesh is meat indeed." And he is to be brought forth in his names, offices, characters, relations, blood, righteousness, resurrection, intercession, giace, fulness, ability and willingness to save. He is to be set forth as crucified for sin and sinners, as the church's sin-bearer, sin-offering, law-fulfiller, justice-satisfier, and death-destroyer.
"And let us eat and be merry." This points out Christ as an all satisfying object." "Let us eat," that is, let me and my returned son eat. Christ is the sacrifice upon which God's justice fed until it was satisfied, upon which every believer feeds and is satisfied. "Let us eat," denotes he is the centre of satisfaction between God and his people; for as he is the Mediator of the covenant he stands between them, and in him their love centres. Does the Father say, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased? The believer in the exercise of faith says, this is my beloved Saviour in and with whom , I am well pleased. Hath it pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell? It pleases the believer to see and possess all fulness in Jesus. It pleased the Father to appoint Christ to be every thing to and in behalf of his elect; it pleased God the Son to be every thing to them; it pleases God the Spirit to reveal him to his people as their present and eternal all; and it pleases them to behold him as such, by which means they are led to know that though they have nothing in themselves but sin, they possess all in Christ, and they give him the pre-eminence in all things.
Birmingham, March, 1827. JACOB.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.J
LETTER TO THE EDITOR. Dear Sir,
With your permission 1 take the liberty of communicating some thoughts which have exercised my mind, relative to a subject of importance to the cause of God and truth, in hope that they might catch the eye and awaken the attention of those who contribute to your periodical publication. For some time past my heart has been pained at those invasions on right, or perhaps they may better be denominated, spiritual oppressions, under which many of the servants of our Most High Redeemer are labouring in consequence of the principles they advocate. But this has been only one source of sorrow: at seasons I have scarcely known which have weighed heaviest, " the spiritual wickedness in high places," or the apparent apathy and indifference to these things, which is and has been for some years past manifested in the deportment of those who, in other respects, may be considered " valiant for the truth" upon the earth.
We find that all possible means have been devised and adopted by those who call themselves by the new-fangled name of Modern Calvinists, to strengthen their hands and to extend their influence upon the earth; they have not been wanting in zeal and activity to promote their object, and to gratify their wishes: but, Sir, I appeal to every honest mind, have we not slept, and incautiously surrendered some stations to be occupied to our own wounding? And are we not still drowsy and sleeping whilst ihey are on the alert? Surely it is high time to awake out of sleep. What would the "venerable Ryland," "the learned Gill," and " the zealous Brine" say, were they amongst us? Should we not hear their voices animating the " sect everywhere spoken against" to some rallying points of exertion? and would they not, by their affectionate counsel and heart-warming statements, endeavour to collect our scattered strength and unite our weakened energies, to promote the cause of truth divine, and thereby withstand the invasions on right which are annually made upon us? I think they would! And are there not to be found among us, men of truth and sobriety who will come forward with holy zeal and scriptural decision in this our day! I hope we are not so far lost to the interest of Christ, the credit of the gospel, and the claims of the ransomed.
It is not my intention now to call the attention of my brethren to the several societies which are in existence, and which are fed by many tributary streams, some of which tend to smooth the rough brow of care in old age, and to minister to the necessities of many weeping widows, whose husbands once were the advocates of principles in accordance with those that bear rule; this, if necessary, may be attended to at some future period. My object in offering these remarks, is (if possible) to draw the attention of some of your correspondents to the importance and practicability of the concentration of energy and exertion, in the accomplishment of an object so honourable in its nature and so useful in its tendency. Perhaps, some one or more of your contributors will take up their pens on this point, and suggest any plan of operation which may seem to them the most simple and the most likely to be successful: "for in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Waiting the communications of more aged and experienced pens, I subscribe myself, your willing servant for Jesu's sake,
October 4, 1827.
ON HEARING THE GOSPEL.
The great Preacher of righteousness after relating one of his most instructing parables, " the sower and the seed," supplies his disciples and the church at large with an explicit and particular explanation, that they may not be left to misconstrue the gracious design, and that he may receive the honour which is his due as the Prophet of the church, into whose lips grace is poured without measure. It is difficult to conceive what might have been the various views taken of this part of our Lord's ministry, had it not been the divine pleasure thus to furnish an immediate interpretation : this we know from the numerous misconceptions of the Lord's will in other instances, that the church would have witnessed a large addition to the flood of errors which had at that period arisen, and has since progressively increased, often threatening to overwhelm her peace and prosperity. As a proof of the desperate hostility of the carnal mind to spiritual instruction, and its hatred of the principles inculcated by our Lord's parables, the subject of grace is often amazed to observe the laboured and unceasing perversion of their meaning, which even to the unlearned and illiterate, by the Spirit's teaching, is rendered plain and understood with ease. Those honoured characters seem to be justified in the expression of their astonishment, when they place in contrast the 'dark sayings' of scripture, with those sacred lessons which 'make wise the simple.' Of the former description we wonder not the observer should exclaim, with the eunuch, "how can I, except some one should guide me?" But when the heavenly Instructor condescends with the problem he lays down, to supply its solution— with the parable he utters, to give its signification—what can more naturally excite our surprize and our grief, than that the mind should, notwithstanding, retain its determined obduracy? If the only obstacle to a reception of the truth in the love of it were an obtuseness of intellect, or, as some say, the want of will, we might expect by the influence of example, the power of argument, or earnest exhortation, the mind might be brought to yield to its dictates. But, alas! spiritual death which reigns over every power of the mind in its unregenerate state, bids defiance to all human means for despoiling him of his dread authority: for, like the great leviathan, he smiles at the weapons and despises the exertions that would rob him of his usurped ominion. And, besides this scripture doctrine, our Lord proclaims is own sovereignty on the subject when in answer to the disciples' nquiry, " what might this parable be?" he replies, " unto you it is Vol. IV.—No. 43. 2 A
given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing, they might not understand." Luke viii. 4—18.
The solemn caution and warning, "Take heed therefore how ye hear," with which our Lord closes his improvement of this parable, presents a subject for consideration answering to the title at the head of the foregoing remarks. The disciples and the multitude which • were gathered together, and were come out of every city' to attend the Lord's personal ministry, had, during the relation of the parable, been apprized of the characters to whom the lesson was specially directed, when he cried, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear!" We cannot, therefore, be at a loss to understand who they are for whom it now stands on record, and to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. None but those whose ears are opened to hear, and whose hearts are expanded to receive the truth in its power and spirituality, are capable of understanding the gracious words proceeding from the lips of Christ.
The Spirit of truth, the glorifier of Christ, must fulfil his covenant engagement in the instance of each object of divine regard, individually, before they can be recognized as subjects of grace, or as followers of Christ, sitting at his feet, and listening to his voice. He who raises the spiritually dead, must endue the spiritually deaf with indispensable faculties of the renewed mind, the hearing ear and the understanding heart; or the Lord's voice will be heard, neither in the storm, nor in the tempest—in his word, nor in his ordinances—in the thunderings of the law, nor in the peace-speaking accents of the gospel. Often are men's consciences stirred within them by the rising of slavish fear, and often is that mental perturbation allayed by the interposition of legal hope. It is a frequent case that a soul under divine instruction lies long under the bondage of the law, and while in that state he may not perceive a ground of hope, or prospect of deliverance in the gospel;—but when the immediate agency of the Lord the Spirit is employed for the divine purpose of leading the sinner to Christ, then the objects of his idolatry—his carnal hopes and dependencies, his slavish fears and doubts, his idols of wood and of stone, of gold and of silver, with the idol Self, are cast to the moles and to the bats, and " the Lord alone is exalted in that day!" We come now to speak of these highly favoured people as they are influenced by their Lord's command: "Take heed How* ye hear!" It is assumed, (or the subject would extend to an inconvenient length) that they each enjoy the inestimable privilege of hearing 'the joyful sound' from the mouth of those whom the Lord hath sent to minister in his holy name—whose knowledge of divine things is governed and regulated by the plain testimony of the unerring word—and whose experience is acquired by the witness of the eternal Spirit to his own truth, sealing it home to the heart, and producing, among other results, an unblameable life and conversation. By what means, then, are they to take heed how they hear? The faithful apostle speaks of some who were not profited by the preaching of the gospel, because they did not mix faith with what they heard; which reproof applies more or less to all the Lord's people who are favoured with such a ministry, for none are found as they ought to be in the active exercise of this principle.
I. Now the first great act of faith in him that hath an ear to hear the messages of mercy and grace from the Lord's servants, consists in —an unalterable persuasion of the inefficiency "of the clearest and most faithful testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, unaccompanied by the almighty energy of its divine author,—with an entire renunciation of innate ability to receive, or take home to the heart, the word of life. Such an one is confidently assured of the alone source whence he must derive the spiritual benefit he seeks,—and the appointed means by which only that advantage can be obtained. We therefore believe it is the Lord's will that his people should thus take heed how they hear. It is the blessedness of all when taught aright to know, that this distinction of character is peculiar to those who have "ears to hear;" and we are authorized in exhorting, in the Lord's words, thus " let them hear!"
II. To take heed to what is heard, is to hear the gospel in the exercise of that principle which teaches the utter defilement of our nature, and proves the existence of sin's pollution, notwithstanding the communication of superabounding grace and the enjoyment of the truth by which its possessor is sanctified. Then the poor sinner takes heed how he hears, when mixing faith with what is heard, he renounces all former hopes and expectations, prostrates himself at the feet of Jesus with all his cares, wants, sins and sorrows, being made willing to lay hold of him as a whole and only Saviour, both for justification and sanctification.
III. The believer, endued with power from on high, takes heed how he hears, when,, he comes before the Lord with filial confidence, receives his heavenly Father's messages of love and mercy, and rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But a variety of intermediate states of mind, in which he that hath ears to hear hears the gospel, remain to be contemplated, and will furnish matter for another essay. The Lord render what is here written profitable to the reader's mind. Amen.
THE DUTY OF RECORDING THE MERCIES OF GOD CONSIDERED.
« Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen; and called the name of it Bbenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."—l Samuel yii. 12.
To observe the way of God, is ever the duty and the delight of all those who have resigned the friendship of this world, and are seeking those things which are spiritual and permanent. We can never sufficiently admire the unequalled love of God to his people, by frustrating