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offence of the cross has never in reality ceased. What makes this the more severe, it generally proceeds from a quarter from whence it ought to be least expected—professors of the gospel, children of the bond woman, who like their proto-type Ishmael, mock at the children of promise; and being themselves only fleshly, persecute them that are born after the Spirit. This is indeed a fiery trial, for nature cannot endure contempt, reproach, or buffeting. But think it not strange, beloved, remembering the same afflictions attended your glorious head; and the servant is not greater than his Lord.
There is no path, however thorny, a believer is called to tread, but has been first travelled by his glorious Redeemer; no affliction, however grievous, but he has first sustained, and with all the additional weight of the curse. "Wherefore, consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds." As ye have been partakers of his sufferings here, so when his glory shall be revealed ye maybe glad also with exceeding joy.
(For the Spiritual Magazine. J
* But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, ami put it on him ; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us tat, and be merry.''—.Luke XV. 22, 23.
This robe is the righteousness of Jesus; as it is written, "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;" the best robe, as mentioned in the text, which is put upon all the elect. This robe was appointed by God the Father in the covenant of grace; God the Son as the Surety of the said covenant engaged to work it out, and at the appointed time was born of a woman, was made under the law, and did actually perform all the law required, in thought, word, and deed ; so that he has not left a single command unfulfilled, nor any part of the curse unsatisfied, but has perfectly and everlastingly delivered his people from the law. He is called "the Lord our righteousness;" which denotes we have none of our own, that he has wrought out one, and that it is our's upon the ground of our union to him. The prophet says, "the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake." And, believer, the Redeemer did not work out this robe for himself, but for his people; for whatever the Saviour is in his mediatorial capacity, he is that to his church, and whatever he has done or is doing it is for his given seed.
And it is the work of God the Holy Ghost to make this robe manifest in the hearts of the elect. "He shall lake of the things that are mine, and shew them unto you." The Spirit convinces the elect of the sin of their lives and hearts by bringing the law to their minds, and gives them to see and feel that they have broken it in thought, word, and deed; and then he reveals this blessed robe to their understanding, and causes them to long after a knowledge of interest in and enjoyment of it, and enables them to receive it by faith as the robe in which they are justified, accepted, and exalted, as beggars from the dunghill of nature, to stand among princes and inherit the throne of glory for ever. Blessed robe! a robe which is ever new, and freely given to the chief of sinners.
It is called the best robe, which denotes there are others; yes, there is the robe of angels, and of Adam in innocency, but this is better than their's: it is better in respect of dignity, for their's is but the righteousness of creatures, but this is the righteousness of God. It is better in respect of security, for Adam's could not secure him from falling; but this secures the whole elect from the charge of sin, the condemnation of the law, and the sting of death. And it is better in respect of duration, for it is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; neither sin, satan, the world, nor all the believer's changes, can ever alter or defile it. Some call it the first robe, because it was first fixed on by the Lord for the justification and salvation of a poor sinner: and it was fixed on in Jehovah's mind before angels or men were created, or sin committed, and will continue for ever without any alteration. And it is to be brought forth by the Father's servants, the ministers of the gospel, in all its dignity, perfection, glory, suitability, preciousness, freeness, and everlasting nature, as the only robe which will do for a poor sensible sinner.
"Put a ring on his hand." By this rina; we are to understand the love of God to his people; for as a ring is without beginning or end, so is the love of the Most High to his people. This love is as ancient as his nature, as it is written, " I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Many tell us that the Lord's love to us commences when we believe, &c. but I would ask, did not the Lord choose, bless, and accept us in Christ before the foundation of the world ? yes, and that as the effect of his everlasting love toward us. The Redeemer confirms this truth in his prayer to the Father, "thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me, and thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John xvii. But a ring is without an end ; so the love of God to his children, for he not only loved them before time, but he loves throughout time, and to all eternity. He loves in all states both before and after conversion; he loves them when dead in sin and in a state of rebellion against him, and as the effect of his love to them he quickens them, and brings them as conquered rebels to his feet to supplicate pardon; yea, he loves them when they are iu darkness and in light, in bondage and liberty, fasting and feasting, doubting and triumphing, in life, death, and to all eternity. But the Lord has assured me again and again that this ring shall never be broken, by saying, my kindness shall never depart from thee; therefore I am persuaded with Paul, that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ. And when this token of love is put upon the hand of my faith, or, in other words, I am enabled to believe my interest in it, and take a view of it in all its immensity, I can triumph in the God of my salvation, and say, I will trust and not be afraid.
"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 Higli 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 they 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,
No ISHMAELITE. 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