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Our God! how deep the condescension;
By birth mysterious. He, the mercy seat; (Luke i.)
And he the only way of man's ascent to God;
O strong endearment this; my spirit pants
This is " our God," whom prophets waited for;
Conveyed with hymns of praise, and shoutings lpud,
'There are Three (hat bear record in heaven, the FATHER, (he WORD, and the HOLY
GHOST: and these Three are One." I John v. 7.
; Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3
(For the Spiritual Magazine.^
THE EARNEST EXPECTATION OF THE CREATURE IN ITS SUBJECTION TO VANITY.
"The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope."— Rom. riii. 19, 20.
THE apostle in the 18th verse is speaking of a glory that should be revealed in us; he contrasts that glory with the sufferings of this present life, and says they are not worthy of comparison; in perfect accordance with what he observes elsewhere,—our sufferings and afflictions are light and momentary when compared with the glory which awaits all who love our Lord Jesus Christ: it is a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory. Then, for the manifestation of that glory which awaits all the sons of God, we have an earnest expectation of, and a waiting for the creature. What creature?
That which the apostle describes as being waited for and earnestly expected, is spiritual, consequently not a natural, an earthly, a fleshly principle, that thus longeth and waiteth. It must be a heavenly, a spiritual nature, that desires, expects, and wishes for spiritual things. It is not possible for the carnal, the earthly, the creature flesh, earnestly to expect and patiently to hope, upon scripture foundation, for the salvation of God ; neither is it the will or wish of the fleshly part of even the regenerate. "With my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin." The apostle in 2 Cor. v. 1, 2. is very striking: " For we know that if our earthly house of this our
Vol. IV.—No. 47. 2 P
tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God.” Observe, he compares the body to a tabernacle : the tabernacle was a temporary accommodation for the children of Israel in the wilderness, an erection soon taken down and removed, and therefore a fit emblem of the transient state of our earthly frame. " It is soon cut down and is withered : our years are but as a tale that is told.” Our life is compared to a post,- to a weaver's shuttle. The apostle adds, “ for in this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed with our house from heaven." He does not say, that this tabernacle groans, but he speaks of something which in habits this tabernacle: for in this we groan earnestly desiring. So far from its being the creature flesh that groans, longs and desires, the apostle declares it to be the contrary, for he says, “ not that we would be unclothed.” The flesh shudders at, and shrinks from dissolution ; and he elsewhere speaks of some who all their life time, through the fear of this dissolution, were subject to bondage ; but notwithstanding all, the apostle felt a prnciple within that desired to be clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
In all the family of God there are two natures, two armies—there is flesh and spirit, a carnal mind and a spiritual, and these two are constantly striving, warring, and opposing each other. And so long as we are in this tabernacle this new principle is subject to vanity, that is, subject to annoyance, infirmities, and weakness of the flesh, not willingly, but subject to it in hope ; in hope of a full, free, complete, yea, an everlasting deliverance. The apostle himself experienced this subjection when he cried out, “ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me ?” But the God of hope darted a ray into his soul, hope sprang up, and then he thanked God and took courage : “ I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
In the 21st verse the apostle explains what may be understood by this vanity, by summing up all the opposition, all that annoys, all the infirmities of the flesh, and seems to embody them in one general term, and calls it “ the bondage of corruption,” and says, the creature shall be delivered from it; yea, more, he shall be ushered into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Believer, how frequently do you complain that you feel your spirits confined as it were in a cage; you have not found room enough to stretch your spiritual wings, nor height enough to soar aloft ; you are forced back again to earth. But your Lord will come by and by and will open the cage door, then you shall indeed prove it to be a glorious liberty; so that while in this time state the new principle is subject to vanity, pent up as in a cage; remember it is a subjection in hope; and God whose ordination hath subjected it to this vanity, hath subjected the same in lively hope.
The apostle does not intend this subjection to be a subjection of submission, or of approbation; not a subjection to the commands of the flesh, but such a subjection as the Israelites experienced when in bondage to the Egyptians ; not willingly, for they cried out by rea
son of the cruel servility they endured. Paul, as we before observed, groaned in consequence of feeling a body of sin and death, and he greatly lamented this subjection. "O wretched man!" So also the Old Testament church complained, Ps, cvi. 42. feeling this subjection to the spoilers of their peace and comfortable feeling : " their enemies also oppressed them, and they were humbled under their hand," that is, they were necessitated to endure that state of oppression. But, to bring the matter to our own personal experience,— God hath set one over against the other, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man, that he that glorieth should glory only in the Lord. Have you not, my brother, yea, do you not even now feel that state the apostle describes, " When I would do good, evil is present with me, and how to perform that which is good I find not?" Then you need no one to explain what this subjection to the bondage of corruption means; because you feel you are the subject of vanity. Bless God it is not willingly; bless God who hath subjected you to this warfare,—that he hath not left you in a hopeless condition; for he hath blessed you with a hope full of immortality, full of eternal life, that is, full of Christ, for he only hath immortality, and he is eternal life. He who is the hope of Israel is your hope, the God of hope. In him and on him they (the church) wait all the day, and from him and by him they expect the victory : " they overcame by the blood of the Lamb."
(For the Spiritual Magazine.J
"A spring shut up, a fountain sealed."—iv. 12.
"Happy art thou, 0 Israel, a people saved of the Lord!" Inclosed in the vineyard of grace, thou art constantly watered from the pure river of eternal life—surrounded by the endless perfections of Deity, and the countless beauties of thine adored Lord. Separated from the world's wide wilderness by distinguishing and regenerating grace, and planted by the heavenly husbandman in the sacred plantation of grace, thou art in union with thine heavenly husband, and hast an interest in the affections of his heart. Grace in thy heart is an everlasting spring; it is a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
In my last paper, I noticed wherein the church of Jesus resembled "a garden inclosed," as expressed in the former part of this passage. In addition to what was then said, it may be remarked, in continuance of our subject, that the inclosure of grace is well watered from the celestial reservoir of eternal love ; and that constantly and perpetually, secretly and manifestly, by a divinely sovereign, and irresistible power. The grace distilled into the soul is sovereign and free; it gently alights on the tender herbs, and extracts therefrom their fragrance. A profuse shower would tend rather to root upT and annihilate; for mortality cannot sustain too bright a vision of glory and immortal felicity, but can merely look through the prison walls of clay, as "through a glass darkly;" nor was it ever designed the spouse of Jesus should receive a portion in time, which her title-deeds expressly declare is to be received in the future state of her existence. Could the heir of glory enter into the full knowledge and contemplation of the joys awaiting her, she would be totally unfitted for the converse of men, and the concerns of time, unmeet for society at large, and a total blank in the universe of active life. So glorious a development of consummate bliss as this, would extinguish every inferior allurement ; nay, more, would beget an extacy of ravishment, incompatible with human frailty, and burst asunder the slender cord which binds it down to sense, to soar aloft to the fair paradise where Jesus dwells.
The amazing mercy revealed by the Holy Ghost, in the calling in of the spouse of Christ from a wilderness of sin and sorrow, to a palace of unspeakable beauty, and to the enjoyment of the charms emanating from her Lord, needs some counterpoise to the spirit. Did not darkness occasionally overshadow her course, and were not dense clouds to intervene between Jesus and the soul, the revelation of his inimitable and all-conquering beauty, though it were in measure but as a drop to the ocean, or in degree as a single glimpse to the full enjoyment; she would be too much intoxicated with the draught to be capable of superintending earthly things; and altogether unfitted for life, and the management of its meaner occupations.
■ It may be calculated among the christian's choicest mercies, that he is altogether under the supremely wise conduct of the Holy Spirit; and that every bitter and sweet are nicely mingled in his cup by an unerring hand, according to the divine appointment and designs of the eternal Three-one Jehovah, before it is partaken ; and that in the fulness of time he cannot fail receiving it, and must drink the draught however palatable or unsavoury it may seem to be. Ephraim's rebellion augmented his sorrow; but it was ordained long before Ephraim was, that that sorrow should constitute part of his bitter portion. It is a great favour indeed, to be restrained from evil, though with bit and bridle; but it is a greater favour to be kept reconciled to the gracious will of our ever blessed Lord. It is unbelief that clogs the christian's zeal, and damps his joy, and makes his footsteps heavy. But for unbelief, the bane of spiritual-mindedness, how truly light would be every affliction to be borne, and how safely would he pass onwards to the heavenly shores!
It is a remarkable fact, that the plants of nature do not contribute one particle to their own growth or beauty, but depend solely and entirely on the God of nature, who giveth them every shower in its appointed season. And as to the illustrious plants of grace, they are entirely passive in their production, as well as in the reception of all ■the successive showers of covenant favour, and the various communi