Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and light, and the divine outgoings of the renewed spirit to the Author and Finisher of its faith, the revivings of the soul under the warm beams of the Sun of righteousness, the actings of faith, hope, and love upon an invisible Jehovah these and similar operations of God the Holy Ghost are far dearer and sweeter to us than a dry, cold, hard, marrowless statement of truth, though as correct as if “the carpenter bad stretched out his rule, marked it out with a line, fitted it with planes, and marked it out with a compass.” (Isa. xlv. 13.) We want no such cabinet workmen to send us their mortise and tenon furniture. Such neatly carved articles suit our pages as little as a veneered cupboard suits a famishing mechanic, without a loaf of bread to put in it. We seek not “great things" (Jer. xliv. 5,) but we seek real things. We seek life, even though that life be given us for a prey—“given," and therefore never to be recalled, (Rom. xi. 29,) —“for a prey," and therefore exposed to the continual assaults of wild beasts, such as Paul fought with at Ephesus.

As we desire, then, to stand upon the ground of life, we desire to embrace and contend for all that is joined to life. "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” We therefore desire to contend for the inseparable union of poverty and riches, beggary and alms, nakedness and clothing, bankruptcy and payment, afflictions and consolations, trials and deliverances, creature weakness and Creator strength, filial chastisements and paternal love, man's ingratitude and the Saviour's loving-kindness, the aboundings of sin and the superaboundings of grace, midnight gloom and mid-day sun, the ballast that fills the hold, and the breeze that swells the sail. We are for a chequered religion, knowing that that which is born of the flesh continues to be Aesh, and that which is born of the Spirit to be spirit. We desire to shun “Pharisaic zeal” as much as “ Antinomian security," and to pass between the upper and nether millstone, without being dashed against the one or the other. (“Hart's Experience.") We desire to contend for that religion which is out of the sight and out of the reach, out of the taste and out of the desire of every dead professor, whether Established or Dissenting, Baptist or Independent, Arminian or Calvinist, pretended friend or open foe. But how to accomplish this desire is out of our own power. To will is present with us, but how to perform that which is good we find not. As in every other act, there is that which mars it as it passes from us. We see sin, frailty, imperfection, carnality stamped upon every page that issues from our press. We are dissatisfied with some things in all our correspondents, but with every thing in ourselves. Our remarks, our reviews, the address we are now writing, we turn from with dissatisfaction. It does not come up to our views or desires. We see a to us unattainable something in the distance, which we would fain seize if we could, but it recedes as we advance, and, like a rainbow, eludes our grasp. It may be seen, but not embraced; pursued, but not overtaken. The difficulties of the work we have undertaken make us faint and weary. A good piece, and especially a testimony that a blessing has rested upon it, encourages us for ihe time to persevere. The sea seems now smooth, and we glide rapidly and easily over the waves. “We will persevere,” we say, “in our magazine.” But our next monthly parcel brings us a heap of letters. We turn them over, and seize one from the mass, the shortest of course. It is perhaps one full of abuse, or if free from quarrelling and fault finding, it labours to set up all that we wish to pull down, and to pull down all that we wish to set up. We throw it down and take up another. As the short one so annoyed us, we will try a longer piece. As far as we can wade through the long sentences, we find nothing in them that will suit our pages. Words without meaning, sentences without power, expressions without either point or savour, experience, (professedly such,) without beginning, middle, or endthese are some of the clouds and wind without rain, in which many of our correspondents have lost themselves, and would fain lose us. “Nothing for the Standard this month;" we murmur, and hastily turn to the end of our letters to see if there be any well known names or initials. We at last find one, or recognize at once in the address a hand familiar to our eyes. We open it and read it. It. suits us, it will suit our readers.

Such are some of the trials of those who contend for life, trials utterly uuknown to those Editors of Religious Periodicals, who only seek to keep up the tone of their theology, as the editor of a newspaper seeks to keep up the tone of its politics. We have our encouragements, however, as well as our trials, our hopes as well as our fears, our leadings forward as well as our startings backward. We believe a blessing has rested upon our periodical. And we would ask those of our readers, who are possessed of spiritual discernment, to compare our early with our later numbers, and see if their is not, as we have gone on, a clearer line of truth, a deeper mine of experience, a more uncompromising path of separation, and a fuller manifestation of power. This we say not boastingly, but with acknowledgment to the Giver of every good and every perfect gift. And as our circulation is becoming more extensive, our readers more numerous and more widely spread, and our pieces more abundantly blessed, we feel we cannot shrink from the work, but are made wil. ling to go on “through evil report and good report; perplexed but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed.”

Should we stop in our course, our enemies would rejoice, and make merry, and send gifts one to another, because the witness that tormented them was slain; and many of our friends would be sorry that their monthly messenger came with his admonitions and reproofs and encouragements no more. One link of the chain that binds together ministers and hearers of truth would be lost; and that mutual intercommunication, which, by our means, exists between many members of the living family, would be broken. Our periodical has been a means of widely diffusing the letters, experience, and spiritual exercises of gracious men, which, humanly, never otherwise would have seen the light. Our controversial pieces, we trust, have been a means of exposing error, and clearing up truth. Our very notices on the wrapper of the places and times where gracious men have been appointed to preach, have had their utility, instances of which have

come to our notice, in bringing together living souls to hear the word. And our reviews and advertisements of gracious works have given them a wider circulation. All these considerations press upon us to proceed. But we need much and continual help; and therefore conclude this lengthened address by inviting our spiritual correspondents to send us such letters, pieces, and communications as are commended to their conscience, and have in them some of that dew of Hermon, which descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

THE EDITORS.

THE FEAR OF GOD.

“ The fear of God" is a very common phrase among many, but how few there are who know anything at all about it in a true sense, from heart-felt experience! It is a very blessed and beneficial fruit of the Spirit of God in the hearts of his living elect, the essence or nature of which is put there in the day that divine life is communicated to the soul, but not fully manifested to the soul to be the fear of God, nor its effects fully developed, till the soul in some good measure is brought into the precious light and liberty of the gospel. (Jer. xxxii. 40.) It is a blessing which no dead Arminian, twice dead, go-between, mongrel Calvinist, or thrice dead, cold-hearted, clear-headed, presumptuous doctrinalist, is possessed of. It is one of the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, (Isa. xlv. 3,) found in that path which no high-soaring fowl knoweth, and which the keensighted vulture's eye hath not seen, and the presumptuous lion's whelps have not trodden. (Job. xxviii. 7, 8, 28.) All the fear of God that these have, with all their external sanctity, pious profession, and clear head-knowledge, is nothing more than natural fear, or the conquered fear of the devil and the damned; or the fear of Agag · for the sword of Samuel; of Saul for the judgments of God (1 Sam. xxix. 20); of Zerah the Ethiopian, at the overpowering strength of the Almighty (2 Chron. xiv. 14); of the Midianites, at the hot displeasure of God (Jud. vii. 22); of Felis at the force of truth (Acts xxiv. 25); or of the keepers of Christ's body, at the mighty power of his resurrection. (Matt. xxviii. 4.) But the true, spiritual, gospel fear of God, in the hearts of those quickened by divine power, is a grace-covenant blessing, a heavenly gift, and a thing purely of a supernatural quality, easier to be understood in the felt experience of it than it is to describe or express it. It is part of that heavenly wisdom and spiritual understanding, richer than rubies, (Job xxviii. 18,) hid in a mystery, which the wise and prudent of this world, with all their natural sagacity, extensive knowledge, and profound learning, are totally ignorant of. (1 Cor. ii.) It is hid from the eyes of all living, (the elect excepted,) and kept close from the fowls of the air; (Job. xxviii. 21;) eye hath not seen it, ear hath not heard is, neither hath entered into man's heart to conceive it. (1 Cor. ii. 9.) This wisdom is too high for worldly-wise fools; (Prov. xxiv. 7;) nor

can the living people of God themselves understand it, or see its worth, beauty, and peculiar excellency, until the Spirit of God, in the course of his teachings, shines into their hearts, and gives them the light of the knowledge of its glory. It is part of that good treasure hid in a good man's heart, which produces good things; (Matt. xii. 35;) and without it we cannot approach, worship, or serve God acceptably. (Heb. xii. 28.) It is a solemn and reverential awe of the sacred majesty of God, and a divine filial respect and regard for his will as our God and Father, and a true concern to be kept by his power and guided by his wisdom into all the paths of truth; (Ps. cxix. 161; Hag. i. 12; Ps. xix. 9; lxxxvi. 11; Heb. xi. 7; 1 Pet. i. 17;) and it proceeds from a solemn sense felt in the soul of the glory, 'majesty, and power of the great God in the law and the gospel; of the strictness of his justice and aboundings of his grace; of the severity of his judgments and tenderness of his mercies; of his fiery indignation and complacent love. (Deut. iv. 10; Ps. cxix. 120; Num. xvi. 34; Matt. xxviii. 8; Acts v. 11.) When it is in exercise, there is felt in the soul a sweet pleasing nearness to, and familiar intercourse with God; the heart is enlarged towards him, and the soul feels a clinging to him from a sense of his goodness, rich mercy, and compassion in Christ towards the guilty; and at the same time there is felt a selfabasing bashfulness, mingled with holy fear, at his great and terrible majesty. Amazed at the glory of ihe inflexible strictness of his justice, blazing in the face of Moses, against the smallest jot of sin, and the glory of the freeness and superaboundings of his rich and matchless grace, shining in the face of Jesus, over all sin, (2 Cor. ii. 7; iv. 6, the soul is filled with solemn fear and solemn pleasure. Hence the believing soul serves the Lord with fear, and rejoices with trembling; (Ps. ii. 11;) “with fear and with great joy.” (Ps. xxviii. 7.) This fear softens and dissolves the heart; (Job xxiii. 16;) it enlightens and instructs the spiritual understanding; (Prov. xv. 33;) under troubles and trials it works strong confidence, enabling the soul to shelter under the wings of the Almighty as a refuge; (Prov. xiv. 26;) out of it flow the living waters of eternal life, enabling the soul to depart from the ways of wickedness and death; (Prov. xiv. 27;) it is clean, and accepted of God, (Ps. xix. 9,) and purges lightness, foolisbness, frothiness, and filthiness; it makes a man esteem himself little, and foolish, and weak, and causes him to commit his ways to God, and acknowledge God in all things; it works a hatred to evil, and a strong desire to be kept by the power of God from sin; (Prov. iii. 5–8;) it works diligence in the soul after God, receives fresh supplies of life and vigour from God, and causes the soul to rest in him; (Prov. xix. 23;) it teaches lowliness, meekness, humility, simplicity, caution, and discretion; (Prov. xxii. 4;) it produces uncorruptedness, gravity, sincerity, sobriety, chastity, and honesty; (Titus ii. 7;) it makes and keeps the conscience tender and watchful, and excites us to keep a conscience void of offence toward God and man. If the subject of this fear be a servant, he will serve his master as honestly behind his back as before his face; if he he a

master, he will use his servant as if he were a servant himself. In trade he will deal honestly, as in the sight of God, who seeth the secrets of his heart. His tender conscience will not let him deal unjustly, nor carry on the secret frauds and deceptions of trade, as practised by the world. In short, it teaches him to set God's conduct in Christ to his people before his eyes, as the rule and pattern of his conduct, and to follow God as a dear child. (Eph. v. 1.) Sin may follow him, but he cannot follow sin. The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath taught him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly. (Titus ii. 11, 12.) Neither can he use hypocrisy, deceit, or carnal flattery, nor does he wish to receive it. He does not care what men say or think of him. He commits his ways unto the Lord, who judges righteously. He knows that the Lord knows his heart, and this comforts him. He cannot do with the fleshly prayers, sayings, and ways even of many of those whom he has reason to believe are God's children. He knows the difference betwixt flesh and spirit, betwixt what is man's own and what is of God. His soul is disgusted at the abominable presumption of barren hypocrites, who can talk largely and boastingly of God's decrees, sovereignty, election, reprobation, particular redemption, &c., who in prayer accost God with a carnal, bold, impudent presumption, asking things of God in that unhumbled manner, as if they had some authoritative claim upon God, or as if God was sobliged to give them their requests. At such, I say, he feels disgusted, because he knows from experience he has no claim whatever upon God, and whatever the Lord is pleased to bestow upon him, he knows it is freely of his grace, that it may be “to the praise of the glory of his grace;" for when he is brought into the presence of the great God from necessity, it is in the character of a poor, vile, helpless, worthless, wretched beggar, rather than a claimant. Nor can he at all live in the company of rotten and unsound professors in doctrine; they sicken and kill his soul. Preaching, of whatever kind, does not reach him, except it be mixed with power. The Spirit of God, at times, shines most astonishingly on the word, and then shines into his heart with the sweetness of its contents, warming and gladdening his heart, strengthening his faith, cheering his soul as with strong drink, until he forgets his poverty, and remembers his misery no more, (Prov. xxxi. 7,) overshadowing his heart with the love of God, till it thrills with joy and gratitude, drawing his soul out to Christ, his people, and his ways. And when he relapses into coldness, seadness, darkness, unbelief, fear, and distress; driven to the top of Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, amongst the lions' dens and the mountains of leopards; (Song iv. 8,) in the body of sin and death, or sojourning and fighting in noisy and quarrelsome Mesech with the strife of tongues; (Ps. cxx. 5; xxxi. 20;) or wandering alone beside the footsteps of the flock in a solitary way, looking for the place of his rest, and the shinings of the face of his Beloved; (Song i. 7;) still he is again renewed, and revived as the corn, and grows as the vine, and smells as the blossoms of Lebanon. (Hos. xiv. 7.) His hands drop with myrrh, and his fingers with

« AnteriorContinuar »