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beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Isa. lxiv. 4.
The nature of the divine favours bestowed on the Lord's people is seen, in their being specially appointed. Such are the whole arrangements of sovereign wisdom, whether sustenance for the body or salvation for the soul be considered. In the economy of grace the wants of both are provided for; neither of the two being of small concern in the estimation of " Him with whom we have to do." However unbelief, wrought upon and nurtured by the enemy of our souls, may misconstrue the all-wise dealings of our heavenly Father, we are taught to know that neither is less under the survey of an omniscient eye, and that each is equally committed to the care of an omnipotent arm. Their continuance in close union all the days of mortality, and the support and supply of each as long as that union subsists, is the evidence that each obtains equal divine regard. And the morning of the resurrection will prove,—what few seem to believe, and none live as if conscious thereof,—the union of body and soul to Christ the head over all things to the church.
That a forgetfulness of the special appointment of his mercies issues in much loss to the believer, particularly as to sensible enjoyment of the provisions of the covenant, is known by daily experience. The weakness and helplessness of infancy, the giddy and perilous pursuits of youth, the perplexing cares and trials of maturer years, and the sore conflicts and sorrows of age, witness to incalculable instances of the fact. The continued feebleness of the spiritual babe, the irregular growth of childhood, the fightings and fears of the young man, and the diversified griefs and exercises of the father in Christ, also attest the evil to which this neglect subjects them. What corruption and depravity pervades the better purposes of the soul!—that, after having come to a knowledge of the truth, it should thus ' continually every day' resist the light of a purified conscience, the evidence of the unerring word, and the dictates of the Spirit of truth. We have cause at all times, with our brethren and companions in the divine life, to cry mightily to the author and giver of every good and perfect gift, that he would dispose our hearts to encreased love of his most holy name, and veneration of his perfect will. So that we may not only be renewed in the spirit of our mind, thereby encreasing our strength to meet the adversaries of our Lord and of our own souls, but that our graces may be improved and enlarged " in the knowledge of him." Especially that we may attain to the wisdom of the just, being enabled to distinguish between things that differ, and to grow in an understanding of the way of life. That, as we walk by faith, we may be concerned to follow the footsteps of our elder brethren, who have found the termination of their circuitous journey, and joined the hosts of the ransomed.
Striving for the mastery over our corruptions and temptations, and the removal of the obstacles which stand in the way of our peace, we shall, as they did, often find occasion, through the atoning sacrifice and matchless conquests of Jesus, to shout " victory !" " victory!" Watching with prayer the premeditated attacks of our enemies, and, ahove all things, loooking for the timely visitation of the friend that loveth, and is ready to help at all times, we shall be prepared for the approaching foe, and welcome the coming of the Lord with—" Hosannah to the Son of David!" Leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross,—seeking wisdom daily and hourly at his mouth who spoke as never man spake,—passing through this dreary waste leaning on the arm of our Beloved,—may we go on to perfection, and in due time hear with glad surprize the kind summons to depart, and reply to the last token of everlasting loving-kindness,—" even so: come Lord Jesus!"
We have traced some of the mercies of the Lord as manifested throughout the period of our lives that is past, and we have endeavoured to account, in part, for the low estimate the believer too often sets on their worth. It is now our duty to call on every one whose character is here drawn, to ask his own heart, and to answer to " him who heareth in secret," whether the remembrance of those mercies has so prevailed, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, that conscience cannot accuse them of the error we have described? And, if we are correct in noting the evil whence springs so much coldness of affection, rebellion, and ingratitude, how ought shame and sorrow urge us to the mercy seat, where our great High Priest, moved with the feeling of our infirmities, receives our petitions and renders them acceptable by the incense of his own offering! Can a child of God forget, and remain guiltless, that the temporal and spiritual benefits he receives are specially appointed, and sovereignly communicated i Oh! then, as children of a chosen generation, as members of a royal priesthood, as citizens of a holy nation, as part of a peculiar people, let us shew forth the privileges enjoyed, and fulfil the duties required.
What progress have we made in the growth of grace, and in the knowledge of God? If our path be the path of the just, it must shine more and more unto the perfect day. Have we attained to clearer apprehensions of the truth? Is Christ become more precious to us,
in the completeness of his work, in the atoning and cleansing
qualities of his blood, and in the perfection of his righteousness? Has the brightness of the glory of his person been revealed to us ? so that from faith to faith we have proceeded from glory to glory, "and been satisfied with his appearing? Think not, brethren, we are to wait the revelation of the light of his countenance, and the opening of his heart in tender mercies, to some unknown period!" Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven > that is, to bring Christ down from above; or, who shall descend into the deep ? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead." He is already presented to thee in his word,—his presence is ever acknowledged in the church,
and has he not appeared to thee, though it may be but by a
glimpse of his love, in the revelation of himself to thy soul? Oh! praise the Lord for his goodness, that he should deign to come in to the polluted chamber of our hearts, and there erect himself a throne, from whence to dispense his royal favours, and make the place of his feet glorious.
What improvement have we realized in our character and conduct? Does an ungodly world think and speak well of us? Do her allurel ments still entice, and her frowns cause dismay? Does the flesh rise against the spirit within, and conscience offer no alarm to warn off present and approaching danger? Does Satan cease to shoot his fiery arrows, and to raise the storm which has often gathered, and encreased, and overspread the soul? Then have we retrogaded rather than advanced in our spiritual career. But, have the means of grace been sought and enjoyed with greater zeal and delight? Has a prayerful reading and study of the word been accompanied with the promised blessing? Has the ministry of the gospel produced its indispensable profitable results? Have the ordinances of the sanctuary proved seasons of consolation and refreshment? Is prayer that refined element in which alone the soul can breathe with freedom and waft itself to where it would be? Is the communion of saints a continual feast, and the edification of sinners our constant aim and pursuit? Do men take knowledge of us, by the strictness of our profession, by the sanctity of our deportment, and by our escape from the pollutions of the world, that we have been with Jesus?
"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, "beware lest ye, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall ** from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the know"ledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both "now and for ever. Amen."
(For the Spiritual Magazine. J
FRIENDLY HINTS TO "A LOVER OF TRUTH."
My dear Brother in grace relation,
I Am personally unknown to you,—were it not so I should have preferred a private letter to the observations here made. But, as truth is my object, I hope you will bear with me while I offer a thought or two upon your " Remarks on the Review of W. H. Colyer's Sermon" in December Number, pages 210—212.
Your views upon the doctrine of the Trinity, (if I understand you) are in harmony with my own, which views I have long entertained; and respecting which I have been much helped, many years ago, by the works of that eminent man of God, Mr. Romaine; especially his Walk of Faith. In that treatise he teaches, that the names of Father, Son, and Spirit, are not designed to shew us their mode of existing, but their mode of acting in the oeconomy of grace. Jehovah is the same in his nature as he would have been had he never formed any creatures capable of knowing and adoring him. But if he is well pleased to reveal himself to creatures, the holiness and justice of his nature demands that he reveal himself as he really is, (viz.) as three personal subsistences, yet one God. Here my soul would bow with reverend awe, nor dare to pry into that which will for ever remain a mystery; for if this could be comprehended, the creature would be deified, and worship would cease. But the heaven-born soul, in faith's bright vision, may contemplate Jehovah's awful name with sacred delight, and view him as his covenant God in Christ. Here the glory of his perfections shines with harmonious splendour, in the lovely person and mediatorial work of Jesus; through whom his Father and our Father looks upon the whole family propitiously, and where his nature (which is love) is openly displayed, powerfully manifested, experimentally felt, and visibly reflected in praise and love.
But although, my brother, I have the happiness to agree with you in this view of the subject, and, no doubt, in other important points of truth, yet it appears we are not agreed in every point. The concluding sentence of your P. S. appears to me very rash and unguarded, which gives me an occasion to make a few observations upon that, and other parts of your "Remarks." The doctrine of pre-existence has been, and still is, held by many who pass under different names among men, both orthodox and heterodox: and because men of unsound principles have held the sentiment, it has often been handled roughly by those who have the unhappy method of confounding what should be kept apart. This has often caused the judicious Trinitarian who also holds the pre-existence, to say, as did the lawyer in old time, "Master! thus saying thou reproachest us also." The sentiment you reject, has been and still is espoused by many, eminent, for talents, usefulness, and piety; while others, equally eminent, have thought with you that it has no foundation in the scriptures. Bear with me, my brother, when I say, if you are not prepared to refute the sentiment which you have rather contemptuously rejected, you would have done better had you been more cautious. I have seen books upon the pre-existence, of considerable size, in which it has been ably and I think scripturally defended, by clear and conclusive arguments, but I have never met with any book expressly against it. If there is any book of that sort extant, I should be glad to be informed, for what little I have seen against it appears to me to be of small weight.
I hardly know what you mean by "a pre-existing soul set up from eternity." I believe no sober-thinking pre-existarian believes that the soul of Christ is eternal. Whatever began to be is not eternal: but the soul of Christ began to be; therefore the soul of Christ is not eternal. There is eternal absolute and eternal restricted: I need not inform you that whatever bears a date is not the former. I can find both eternity and priority ascribed to our Lord; the former suits well with his divinity, and the latter as well with his humanity. "The first born of every creature, the beginning, the beginning of the creation of God," &c. are terms by far too low to apply to his divine Person; then it must refer to that nature which had a beginning: and why he should be so called I see not, unless it be true that he so existed.
Bishop Fowler, Dr. More, Dr. Watts, Dr. Gastrell, Dr. Burnet, Dr. Knight, Dr. Bennet, Mr. B. Fleming, Joseph Hussey, John Allen, and others, have believed and defended the sentiments which you reject; to which I might add Mr. Romaine, for he recommended the works of John Allen. Here you have a bright constellation of intellect, and it cannot be denied that some of them were stars of the first magnitude. Is it not extremely rash and unguarded to call these men "poor dim mortals," having " benighted minds?" This your words manifestly imply, but I sincerely hope it is more than you intended, yet it is too obvious to escape observation. In accounting for Christ being called a Son previous to his incarnation, you have adopted the common mode of explanation generally given by those who oppose the pre-existence. But, according to this way of reasoning, there was no Son of God until many of the adopted sons of God were in real existence, and in a state of glorification too: and thus many of the "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ," were in possession of the kingdom of glory, before the primitive "heir of all things" was acquainted with it. This is not the way to give him that pre-eminence .which the scriptures ascribe to him.
Your rejecting both the eternal generation, and pre-existence of the Son of God, leaves you nothing more than a decretal or ideal Son of God, and so the Old Testament saints could have no more than a decretal Mediator, although they experienced the grace of his mediation upon their souls, and knew him as the man of Jehovah's right hand. But I should intrude upon these pages if I entered further into the subject; I can only touch it, as Jonathan touched the honey, and if to you, my brother, but a little clearness of sight (as to this point) should be imparted, I shall be doubly paid for offering these observations. I only add, whatever Christ was, in the divine purpose and decree, that he must be in open time: but he was the first-born among many brethren, the first-born of every creature, and the beginning of the creation of God, in the divine purpose and decree; therefore, he was the first-born among many brethren, &c. in open time. The second member of this syllogism is your own creed, and how you evade the conclusion, remains for you to shew. To object to this conclusion is to say, he was viewed in the divine decree, what he never was in time, or ever can be. He (as man) is not the first-born among many brethren, if many of those brethren existed before him; nor the anointed Head, if a part of his body was anointed before this anointing was poured upon the Head. It is as much an inversion of the order of things in grace, as it would be in nature to suppose, we might gather the fruit before the tree is planted.
In the beginning of page 211 you say, "a divine person took this prepared body into union with himself." This is true, but this is not all: he possessed a human soul as well as a body, which 1 doubt not