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This affection of the mind is not peculiar to the children of Adam in their natural state; for the sons and daughters, of the Lord God Almighty, in their spiritual state, share with them the sad inheritance bequeathed by their fallen parent. "Man is born to trouble as the Sparks fly upward." As by necessity of nature the vivid particles from material fire are produced by collision, so from the pain and trouble to which man is subject issue those effects comprised under the term sorrow. But we must leave the boundless field of thought, over which the sympathies of nature might rove uncontrolled, in contemplation on the sorrows of the world, to consider those which are specifically denominated, the sorrows of the saint. This distinction must invariably be maintained, or many serious evils will accrue to the humble disciples of Christ. They are ever liable to the commission of Job's sin, that of aggravating the amount of real distress incidental to their spiritual concerns; or to indulge in suspicion of the all-wise design being accomplished in those exercises.
The apprehension of sin's evil is productive of sorrow. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince of sin; and this the Almighty teacher does by directing the mind to the origin of evil. Not by leading men to indulge vain speculations on the introduction of sin, so often employed to invalidate the testimony of inspiration. Neither is this bis work,—the pretension to justify the ways of God to the light of unsanctified reason. Sufficient for the purposes of saving knowledge and true faith, is a full conviction of the truth of the scripture account concerning the fall, connected with an humble, habitual, and unalterable persuasion, of personal participation in the universal ruin thereby effected. The confession of the penitent prophet is the language of the heart of all who are taught this first lesson in the school of christian experience: "against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight: behold, I was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my mother conceive me." And the consciousness of the truth of such an acknowledgment produces the keenest emotions of
frief. The poor penitent has acquired, by divine teaching, some nowledge of the infinite purity and holiness of him, against whom he has sinned; and in proportion thereto is the extent of his shame, confusion, and sorrow. Compunction of conscience for particular and heinous offences, must not be classed with the influences of that godly sorrow which " worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." The only acceptable sacrifice, is a broken and contrite heart." "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
A sense of nature's depravity and defilement is productive of sorrow. It is not necessary to a true understanding of the depravity of human nature^ that the believer should have followed the multitude to do evil, by visiting the notorious haunts of vice,—by falli.ig captive to temptation and his own deceitful lusts,—or by rioting in sensuality, and allowing full licence to the more obnoxious passions. No—the seeds of sin, sown deep in the heart, may strike root, and germinate, and exibit their deadly bloom, without the aid of those congenial elements. Sin does not require such powerful excitements to prove its baneful quality. The soil of the human heart is of itself adequate to the nourishment and increase of this indigenous plant, whose culture is promoted by the morbid atmosphere which surrounds it. "For out of the heart," saith the searcher of hearts," proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man." The invariable effect of this knowledge on the enlightened mind, however small the degree of illumination, is sorrow. The soul mourns under the pressure of an insupportable burden. His load of guilt weighs him down, and by its constant accumulation becomes intolerable. A sense of utter defilement causes him constantly to abhor himself, and induces the most humiliating discoveries of the nature and influence of original and actual pollution. And keen is the anguish which pervades the mind while under the dispensation of these profitable lessons.
The experience of spiritual darkness is productive of sorrow. Involved in perplexity by reason of the difficulties of the way he is pursuing, the subject of grace is often brought to an anxious pause: he finds himself filled with doubt, surrounded with gloom, and knows no way of escape. The dreadful evil of sin, and the corresponding depravity and defilement of his nature, being the only theme of his devout contemplation, he often apprehends he shall one day fall a prey to the devices of his potent enemies. But, besides, his view has not yet been directed to the sun of righteousness, the splendour of whose beams must dissipate the clouds and the darkness, and cause him in that refulgent light to see light. His thoughts have all turned within, and have been there employed in renewed discoveries of the heart's deceitfulness and desperate wickedness,—the mind's alienation from all that is good,—and the soul's need of a better clothing than the despicable rags of natural righteousness. It is consequently no marvel that he should be the subject of grief, and that his progress is marked with sorrow. You will perceive on his countenance the haggard lineaments of grief, and in all his pursuits detect some symptoms of the chronic malady which rankles within.
The knowledge of spiritual ignorance is productive of sorrow. Knowing not the way of salvation by faith in Christ, he may be seen employed in the use of means for the attainment of ease to his burdened mind, and cure of his raging disease, which add affliction to affliction, and involve him more and still more in the distress he longs to escape. As the unhappy seaman, whose crazy bark has parted with its helm and anchor in the pitiless storm, strives in vain to withstand the force of the remorseless elements, or make his course to the desired haven; so the troubled soul conceives himself at the mercy of every opposing wave,—anticipates sudden destruction from the impetuous tempest,—and apprehends the impossibility of deliverance. Unacquainted with the methods of divine grace in leading on to a ma-" tured understanding of inherent vileness, and of the heavenly Instructor's design in bringing to pass the mighty internal conflict, the convinced sinner remains, often a long season, a prey to unmitigated sorrow. He has not learned the power of the grace of hope, which shall hereafter illume his dejected countenance, and cause his ransomed soul to beam, and glow, and burn, with joy unutterable and full of glory. But fear, slavish fear, prevailing over every other affection, bids him give up all for lost: "For all his days are sorrows, and his travail, grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night." And with the weeping prophet he cries, " I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath: he hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old: he hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out; he hath made my chain heavy: also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer." Lam. iii.
Nor do these alone constitute the spiritual man a mourner: he too finds food for unremitted grief in the prolific growth of error,—in the bold advances of infidelity,—and in the open scenes of profanity which painfully obtrude themselves on his observation. The sorrow produced by these events is pointed and sharpened by the remembrance, that all the unconcealed indulgences of vice are but the characteristics of the pestilence that walketh in the darkness of his own mind. Such were doubtless the feelings of David, when he said," the transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." Psalm xxxvi. 1.
And, finally, sorrow is produced in the mind, concerned for the glory of the Lord and the prosperity of Zion, by the apathy, coldness, and want of spirituality he has so often to regret among his brethren. This at the present time must be a frequent source of pain to such who are observant of the prevalence of carnality in every department of religious society. Its parylizing influence weakens the energies employed in the cause of truth, and produces disunion in those who form but one body, and should be actuated by one spirit.
My soul! learn to carry all thy sorrows to the Man of Sorrow, who took thy infirmities, and sustained thy griefs. Learn humbly to submit to all the allotments of his sovereign will; and, when oppressed with the complicated ills of an imperfect state, turn for relief to the substantial assurance of scripture, " Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding, eternal weight of glory."
Vol. IV.—No. 44. 2 F
Fourteen Posthumous Discourses, by the late Rev. T. Hutchings, upwards of Thirty-one years Pastor of the Baptist Church in Unicorn Yard, Southwark. Edited by the Rev. William Hutchings, Minister of Paradise Chapel, Chelsea. Westley and Davis.
Having received a good report of the ministry of the Rev. T. Hutchings, we experienced some disappointment in the perusal of this volume. Our prepossessions in its favour were somewhat abated by the Editor's information, that three out of the " Fourteen Posthumous Discourses" had ' long since been before the public' •• And the scandalous• manner in which they are printed, made the reading of them more a toil than pleasure,—not a page, nor scarcely a paragraph, being without literal errors of the grossest description.
The subjects are arranged in the following order. "On the Particularity of Divine Providence".—On the Influence of Personal Religion"—On the Efficacy of the Saviour's Sacrifice"—" On the Communion of Saints"—" Funeral Sermon, on the Death of the Rev. A. Austin"—" On the Relative Importance of our Lord's Divinity"—" On the Exemplifications of the Saviour's Divinity"—" On the Manner in which we should Anticipate the Displays of our Lord's Divinity"—" On Success, the certain Fruit of Faithful Labours"— "On the Conciliatory Address of Abram to Lot"—" The Increase of the Messiah's Kingdom Prophetically Anticipated"—" The Increase of the Messiah's Kingdom Improved"—" The Vision of Isaiah"— and, " On the Extent of the Redeemer's Mediatorial Supremacy."
To prove our labour was not entirely in vain, we make a few selections, which we consider the choicest passages these discourses contain. On the Communion of Saints, Mr. H. observes:
"Whither can we go from the presence, or flee from the Spirit of the Most High ?—In what department of his work3, does not God appear? In what branch of his administration may not communion with God be enjoyed? It is, however, the high privilege of those who "have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," to enjoy communion with him, not only in the works of nature, and the dispensations of providence, but in the manifestations of his love and grace. With a privilege so sublime, unrenewed minds are unacquainted. For such intercourse with the Fountain of bliss, those, who are alienated from the life of God, have nd taste, no desire. But for the enjoyment of communion with him who is the God of patience, and consolation, the true believer is formed by renewing grace: nor does he thirst for God, and implore the light of his countenance in vain. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also, who is of a humble and contrite spirit." Yea, saith our blessed Lord, "if any man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." I speak a language which you, my brethren, understand, when I say, that in serious meditation^ that in fervent prayer—and that in the ordinances of the sanctuary, "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" is to be enjoyed;—that there are instances, in which the God of all grace visits with divine light, and peace, and joy, the souhof the true believer —calling into operation every right principle—imparting a delightful sense of his special favour—and affording some foretastes of that felicity which is experienced by beatified spirits in his immediate presence. This indeed is one of the hidden blessings of the christian life; but verily there is a divine and glorious reality in it. Nor i3 it possible for a child of God to be happy without it:—no, not in the recollection of past enjoyments, and however rich his experience—no, not in the very bosom of christian society—no, not in the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High—no, not if he were to hear a Paul preach, or a Gabriel sing. No matter for the scowling aspect of the formalist in religion, or the sneer of the profane—communion with God is the element and the joy of every soul, that is born of the Spirit, and called to glory. This alleviates his sorrows and his cares—this renders the house of God the gate of heaven to his soul—this inspires him with fortitude, yea, with emotions of joy and feelings of triumph, even on the dark confines of eternity i—and while passing through time, and ere he comes to an "innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly and church of the first born, and to God the Judge of all," this arms him against temptation—this fills him with gratitude—this animates him to the discharge of duty—this increases his conformity to the Divine image, and fits him to take sweet counsel with his brethren in the way to the kingdom. For, what says an apostle? " if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." Ah! if communion with God, and a consequent savour of divine things be wanting, little shall we be qualified to comfort and edify one another. But in coming down from the mount of communion with God, to converse with his brethren in the valley, though the christian may not shine as Moses did, and though he may not tell where he has been—yet, he will bring with him such tenderness of spirit—such humility of mind—such a savour of heavenly things—such zeal for God, as will produce the happiest results in social intercourse. His brethren will be animated and refreshed, and thus, "with one mind and one mouth," they will "glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The best of the whole series are Sermons XI. and XII. on Psalm ex. 3. " Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," &c. The preacher contemplates the prospect which the text affords, as relates to the success of' the gospel—its nature—its effects—its extent. He proposes three considerations, from which the certainty of the prediction being fulfilled may be argued:—the immutability of Jehovah's counsel—the perfection of the Redeemer's atonement—the invincibility of divine grace. We quote the paragraph on " the perfection of the Redeemer's atonement," not as being more excellentthan other branches of the subject, but because it is less voluminous.
"The doctrine of atonement by the blood of Christ, pervades the whole of the inspired volume, and i3 inseparably connected with its contents. That the incarnate Son of God was delivered for the offences, and raised again for the justification of apostate men, the gospel proclaims. Nor should we ever associate with a doctrine of such vital importance, those flimsy and superficial notions, which tend to concede the doctrine of the cross to its enemies —which go to sever the golden link of suretyship relation, which subsists between the New Covenant Head, and all the redeemed—and, in a word, which imply, if they imply any thing, that it is possible for the ends of our Lord's obedience unto death to be defeated, and that, notwithstanding the amazing scene which has immortalized Calvary, when there suspended on the cross, Jesus exclaimed, "it is finished !"—the purchase of his invaluably precious blood, may after all perish everlastingly, under the curse of the law